Author Archive

Judy’s Story: God’s Love Shines Through

Written by lauren. Posted in Children, Missions, Sponsorship, Stories

Judy Princell visited the village for the first time this past summer and was immediately drawn in by the people and the way she saw God working around her. Here she shares some of her thoughts on her experiences.

Judy with childrenI wish everyone could have the paradigm shifting  experience of visiting the village  and knowing, even for a short time, these wonderful, bright, courageous people. Ten of us were blessed to spend two weeks with Margaret and Davis and the children, families, and teachers in the village.  We were met by some of the children on our first afternoon with bouquets of flowers and special songs they had rehearsed for us. We were blessed to be guests at Pastor Joseph and Mary’s wedding the next day—an all day affair and a truly unique experience. We were able to visit with some of the children in their homes, and this was one of the times God used us for one of his miracles. There was a badly burned  baby girl in the compound, and  because we were there and met this family, Margaret and Davis took  her to the hospital and her life was saved.

The most precious memories I have of the village are the amazing stories we heard
from some of the mothers, from Pastor Joseph and Mary, from Davis and many others. God’s love always shines through. I could tell you story after story about the miracles
that we heard and saw in the short time we were in the village—all because of God’s wonderful timing. 

My two little sponsored girls, Mercy and Joan, are bright, beautiful children who I pray will have a better chance to grow up and achieve their goals because of Heritage Academy!

Same Mission, New Look!

Written by lauren. Posted in Village Project Africa

New Look

As we move into a new phase with Village Project Africa, we wanted our website and logo to reflect the way we are changing and the great things that are happening in Kenya! To that end, we worked with some talented designers to create something more reflective of who we are now. We hope that as you look over the new site, you’ll gain insight into our program and be inspired to join us as we move into the future God has planned for us.

We have been so blessed to have an incredible support base since the very beginning and we are thankful for all of you who have come on board in so many ways. From those who have prayed for us and for the village to those who have given of themselves in time or donations, each person has helped to make our program successful and a changing force in Makutano. It’s amazing what God has done through each of you in the last six years!

We look forward to where God is taking us and are so pleased to have all of you along with us! This blog, in addition to our Facebook page, will give us an opportunity to keep you informed about the latest things happening in the village. Be sure to check back often! In addition to news from the village, you may have noticed that we also like sharing your stories on the blog. If you have a story to share about how Village Project Africa has affected you, please send your story to lauren@villageprojectafrica.org. We’d love to
share it!

And speaking of sharing… be sure to share our new website with your family, your friends, and folks you meet! 

Love changing lives!

Heritage College: Providing Quality Education to Teachers of Tomorrow

Written by lauren. Posted in Education, Village Project Africa

Dr. Nyle Kardatzke traveled to visit our school three times last year and plans to make a trip again at the end of the month. As an educational consultant, he has a valuable perspective on our teacher’s college. We wanted to share with you his thoughts and insights about the college to give you a closer look into the history of our educational programs and what is happening now with Heritage College!

Report by Dr. Nyle B. Kardatzke, Educational Consultant for Village Project Africa

NyleHeritage Academy, Makutano, Kenya

Heritage Academy is a Christian elementary school that was an unexpected outgrowth of a work that Margaret Lewis and Davis Otieno Reuben started among widows and orphans in a rural agricultural area about an hour’s drive north of Eldoret in western Kenya. Wild animals, other than cats, dogs, and occasional rogue bulls have long since left this area. Most people subsist on small farming plots called shambas and on very little cash from the market economy. Although measured per capita income has risen in Kenya in recent decades, this economic growth has taken place mainly in the cities of Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, and Eldoret.

Widows in Kenya are in a particularly precarious position. When a woman’s husband dies, it is common for the dead man’s family to claim any property that the family had accumulated, including cattle, homes, and land. The widow is ejected from the couple’s property, and she is often rejected by her own family for fear they would have to help support her and her children.

It was in this environment that Margaret and Davis began to teach widows how to sew and make tote bags to sell in Kenya and the United States. The meager income they generated was typically a lifeline for the widows and the children they were supporting.

Students cannot enter the government schools in Kenya at the first grade level unless they can write their names and recognize numbers. Margaret and Davis realized that the widows were nearly all illiterate, so their children had little prospect of learning to write their names and enter the government schools, so they decided to offer a small preschool to overcome this hurdle. They rented a small, mud-walled house, hired a teacher, and announced that there would be a preschool opening. They thought they might accommodate 35 children, but on registration day, 80 children were brought to the school and they admitted 50. In a few months, they announced that the next level would be opened and 100 students were brought; another 50 were admitted. The school was soon moved to a new site, classrooms were built, and now there are 520 students in preschool through 5th Grade. In January 2013, 6th Grade will be added and enrollment will approach 600 students.

All instruction is conducted in self-contained classrooms, though teaching is departmentalized among the teachers in the upper grades. All of the classes that I saw included at least 35 students, and it was common to find 45 to 55 students in a room. Fortunately, the students are well-behaved and attentive. They work in close proximity to each other, literally touching each other’s elbows in a way that would be unworkable in the States. But even with eager and cooperative students, this is a heavy load on the teachers’ attention and time. It’s amazing that it works so well.

The Heritage College Program

Student Teacher WorkingWhen Dr. Lynn Staley learned about Heritage Academy, she proposed a teacher training program that would work within the school to assist the teachers and produce well-trained teachers for Kenyan schools, public and private. Dr. Staley raised funds for the first student teachers, and they were first in the school in January 2011. Within the school, the teacher training program is known as Heritage College, paralleling the name of the school itself, Heritage Academy. 

There are 10 student teachers working at the school under a semi-volunteer arrangement known in Kenya as “an attachment.” This means that they are attached to a college program and are working as unpaid interns as part of a training program. In some situations in Kenya, students would pay for the privilege of having this kind of training and the prospect of a college certificate after a two-year internship and success on an exam. At Heritage Academy, the college students receive a small stipend for their classroom work, and their tuition for the college classes at the school is covered by the program’s funding. This is considerably more attractive than many similar programs, and it is further enhanced by the quality of the staff, students, and organization of Heritage Academy. The current student teachers are supported by scholarships through Village Project Africa. Support for student teachers costs $50 per month, $600 per year.

The school year in Kenya is divided into three terms of instruction: January to March, May to July, and September to December. Schools are not in session in April, August, and December, and it is in those months that the Heritage College students attend college classes at Heritage Academy. In addition to the ten Heritage College students, all of the teachers at Heritage Academy are offered free tuition for the college courses, and nearly all of the fourteen senior teachers have accepted this offer. In addition, teachers from other schools in the area attend the college classes as tuition-paying students. Enrollment in the college program is about fifty now.

Value of the Current Program

Teachers playing with kidsThe Heritage College program provides realistic classroom experience for promising high school graduates in preparation for teaching careers. The sponsored students, all girls at present, are from local high schools and have been identified by their school officials for their intellectual and moral promise. All are from low income families, often having been raised by their grandmothers. Their prospects for future employment outside the Heritage College program are limited, to put it mildly.

Within Heritage Academy, the student teachers serve as assistants to teachers who judge the program to be helpful, making their work more effective. The assistants help keep class records, observe the work of individual students during class time, and sometimes lead class sessions under the supervision of experienced teachers. On occasion, a college student teacher may serve as the classroom teacher temporarily as a substitute. The quality of instruction at Heritage Academy is heightened by the work of the student teachers, and the senior teachers themselves have opportunities to grow through their management of the young teachers.

In the future, graduates of Heritage College are expected to raise the level of instruction in other schools in the area, and some may be hired at Heritage Academy itself. Their future presence in other schools will heighten the influence and reputation of Heritage Academy and Heritage College.

Dr. Terry’s Story: Six Weeks of Care

Written by lauren. Posted in Children, Education, Farming, Health, Village Project Africa, Women's Community

Dr. Terry Horner (known affectionately as Dr. Terry in the village) traveled to Makutano to provide care and medical knowledge to the people of the village. After six weeks, Dr. Terry was inspired by what he saw and the compassion, care, and charity he saw all around him in the village. 

I recently returned from an uplifting and inspiring six-week trip in Makutano, Kenya, where I worked with Village Project Africa. I wanted to go back for my second time, because I saw last year how much work needed to be done to improve medical, agricultural, and educational facilities. I feel it is my calling from God to help the village people, who have spiritually-inspired me and become my friends. We continued Village Project Africa’s mission to help current and future generations of this impoverished village break the chains of poverty. 

Last year, I stayed three weeks with the group and refreshed my childhood farming skills. Over the course of this year, Village Project Africa transformed the school garden into a larger garden with a greenhouse for tomatoes and cabbage. Village Project Africa now has self-sustaining produce that they eat and even sell. To complement the produce, a farm manager now cares for 200 chickens and three cows. 

The focus of this year’s trip was to expand a small medical clinic with one practitioner, who sees 500 students for free. I realized how difficult it can be to care for the children and families when I couldn’t access current technology in a comfortable environment like at home. Village Project Africa proposed a much larger clinic with laboratory services to help treat patients based on a diagnosis, rather than by symptoms. In addition, maternity services with pre- and postnatal care and deliveries will be initiated to reduce the infant and maternal mortality rate.

This proposed clinic will serve women who currently deliver at home or have to walk several miles to reach another center. HIV and AIDS patients will also have access to
better treatment options at this facility. Once the plans are approved, we can start construction. We plan to return next year with a larger medical team from the U.S. to provide a free clinic. 

A few days before I arrived, a Kenyan medical student started volunteering at our clinic. His story caught my attention because he lost both of his parents at a young age and he was interested in becoming a neurosurgeon. He told me he struggled with school, but said he remembered his father’s advice that education was the key to success. He paid more attention to his studies and his hard work paid off when he became the only student in his secondary school’s history to receive perfect grades. In addition, he scored 37thon a test among 67,000 students in Western Kenya. Despite being admitted to the medical school at Kenyetta University, he could not pay for more than one semester. 

For the next six weeks, he amazed me at how much he knew about medicine with only one semester of medical school. His potential is great, and he wants to stay in Kenya to become the fourth neurosurgeon in his country. Village Project Africa promised him financial support during seven years of medical school. In exchange, he agreed to stay and practice in Kenya. 

Finally, the local school called the Heritage Academy has been booming. There are more than 500 students now and a new 6th grade will add 100 more children. The government signed off on plans to start building a dining hall/conference center. Among other benefits, it will give children a place to eat out of the dust and rain.

As a physician, I am always grateful for the chance to help someone physically, but this also gives me the opportunity to share my faith through service. I thank all of my patients, colleagues, and friends for their support. Being a part of Village Project Africa has changed my life by showing me the purest forms of compassion, care, and charity in Makutano.

Tim’s Story: A Witness

Written by lauren. Posted in Missions, Stories

Tim Parker shares what his four visits (and counting!) have taught him about generosity
and life.

Tim WorkingMy first trip to Makutano, Kenya was in 2008—a totally surreal experience. I never would have imagined that I would have such an opportunity, and now I have been there four times. I’m so blessed!  

While I have helped out and volunteered for various projects on each of my visits, I feel that I have not necessarily been a doer. Instead, I feel I have been a witness.  I’m a witness to God’s works, and the
generosity of family, friends, and strangers as they lay down their resources and time to help the people of Makutano.  I have seen God’s generosity in the American travelers, who give out of our abundance, but I have seen even more of God’s generosity in the people of Makutano who have nothing, but are willing to give you all they have.

I have had the privilege of meeting some great people in Kenya—Davis and Nixon, just to name a couple.  Their character and commitment to others is infectious, and I can’t help but feel recharged after being with them. They make me realize my purpose in life is greater than my own.  I believe God has great plans for the people of Makutano, Kenya because I have undoubtedly been witness to some of those plans being played out.

Tim playing with kids

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