Soon it will be Thanksgiving time in the United States, a holiday that I once described to some friends in Kenya as, “Sort of like a harvest celebration but with lots of professional sports on TV.” I ended up explaining the rules of American Football and why it’s called that despite being played with your hands (they were baffled).
So American Thanksgiving is a cultural holiday that doesn’t quite translate cross culturally. But the core of what Thanksgiving is all about, things like gratitude, like “thankfulness” itself, that’s something we can all understand. It’s something the students attending Springs High School in Shalom understand very well.
These students had very few options for attending High School before WTA constructed this school. Most around were not affordable for their parents either. Springs is local and because of our continued support, able to meet parents’ budgets.
That’s why the Form Two English Class took a moment this past week to write letters wishing the donors of that very school that they were attending (the desks they were sitting on too!) a Happy Thanksgiving.
It wasn’t just a holiday card though, these students were also taking the time to say thank you to the donors for helping make their schooling possible. As I was reading them, I was struck by genuineness of their letters, and how well they understood the empowering force of education in their lives.
Here’s some of what they wrote:
“I appreciate the great things you have done. You have enabled me by donating so that I can learn in a good environment.” – Victor Ochieng
“Thank you for every effort that you did to see all the students, including I, are provided with a good school to learn.” – Hillary Kipkoech
“I could have been walking for long distance to access education in an expensive school, but through your building of classes, I can smile.” – Joseph Gitau
“I greatly appreciate the work of your hands. Thank you a lot for building Springs High School. I have gained an experience that will change my life…” – Ezekial Njongoro
After reading the letters, I thought about how thankful we should be too. We’re very lucky to be in a position to provide better access to schools for kids in Kenya. We’re very lucky that we have the resources to be generous with our time and money.
After all, there’s a lottery about geography. A kid born in Kenya will have more challenges pursuing education in his or her life than a kid born in America. That’s a fact. Whether you have a school to go to or not, that too is geography, and its not something that many in Kenya have control over.
For the kids in Lemolo B, who’ve been learning this past year in a rough shelter, their school is getting closer to finishing construction. Kids here used to walk for hours to get to school, but not anymore.
Shalom and Kimigul primary schools have met those needs too, and helped kids there overcome those odds stacked against them.
We should be thankful this Thanksgiving that we’ve been able to make such a difference in so many lives in Kenya. We should be thankful that we’re able to build schools in Kenya that mean so much to so many.