by Angela Adhiambo
Last year, a little girl in green gumboots came to our home.
On one hand she was clutching a tiny jembe (garden hoe), and on the other she was holding her mother’s hand.
As her mother and my mother talked, I noticed that she kept stealing glances at me. I thought she looked hungry, so I offered her some milk and sweet potatoes.
She ate very quickly, and soon after told me “I’m starting school soon. I’ll be in grade 7 next year.”
She looked no more than 5 years old.
I smiled and said, “I had no idea you were such a big girl!”
Rosie smiled back, “When I finish school, I’ll be bigger and I’ll be able to help my parents more.’
I pointed to her little garden hoe and proceeded to ask, “Is that what the garden hoe is for?”
After a few minutes, Rosie and her mum left. I later found out from my mom that Rosie was indeed turning 5.
She was supposed to join kindergarten right before the pandemic hit, but has now been held back for 2 years because her parents couldn’t afford to take her to school.
Rosie’s parents are small scale farmers by trade. They have no farm of their own, and are sometimes contracted by local farmers to help out during the planting and harvesting season.
On a good day, her parents make no more than $3, even with the help of Rosie and her siblings.
With the current cost of living crisis, that’s only enough to put food on the table. So , children from poor families constantly have to make a tradeoff:
I think we both know how difficult the latter one can be. So, more and more kids from extremely poor households in Kenya are making the conscious choice to not go to school.
And it’s heartbreaking.
I went for a fundraising meetup in a rural area, and met with a few delightful children. Many of them were between the ages 7 and 11 years – typical school-going age. They were selling groceries, on a school day.
I talked with them for a while and found out that they were selling groceries to raise school fees. So, I asked about how far they were from their goals, and how often they had to sell groceries to raise school fees.
All of them gave the same response – none had ever made enough.
And that’s when I realized that selling groceries was just something they did to try and help their parents.
So, it was more an act that helped them cling to hope, than it was one with a reachable goal.
One 15-year-old girl even said that she had decided to drop out of school so that what she made could be used to add onto what her siblings had made. That way, her siblings could go to school, and she would no longer be a burden.
All of this has been true for decades.
To these poor families, the cycle of poverty never ends because they can’t afford to support their kids to a level where they can eventually support themselves.
Sadly still, no one is coming to help these kids.
And that’s what we’re trying to change.
The good news is that, with the support of a really kind stranger, Rosie was finally able to join school this year.
I’ve honestly never seen her more excited!
The local community and I have done everything we can from buying school supplies and school uniform, to making sure that she always has school snacks. But there are 14 more kids just like her who urgently need support to continue with their education.
That’s where generous champions for children like you come in.
With your help, we can take the kids who’ve dropped out back to school, provide them with necessities like books and school uniform, and give them a fighting chance at a better future.
Rosie’s life has since changed for the better. Going to school is a given to most, but it certainly wasn’t for her.
Her mum and I took her to school on her first day, and she was so excited she didn’t even cry.
So please, will you make a gift to help us take others like Rosie back to school?
As little as $15 per month can help us keep 1 kid in school for a whole year.
School’s already started and we have 14 more to help.
Rosie’s story continues to unfold, and it’s beautiful to see. Meet her and chat with her live here.