Grace Finds Success, Even in Poverty

Story and photos by Donna Atola, Kenya Field Communications Specialist

A young, sponsored girl living in a hard place in Kenya shares her understanding of success.

Grace has been enrolled at her Hope Center since 2016, when she was 6.

Grace, 11, lives with her brother Daniel and their mother in Mongotini, a community in Malindi on the coast of Kenya. She lost her dad a while ago and her mother is the family’s sole provider.

Her mother, Priscilla Kabibi, has a small food kiosk near a public school in the community where she sells bread and beans to kids for the equivalent of 5 cents each during lunch breaks and makes the equivalent of $3 weekly.

Just like Priscilla, most caregivers in the impoverished community struggle to earn an income. Some rely on small-scale farming of cassavas, vegetables, maize, and fruits, which is not sustainable because Malindi receives little rainfall and items like fruits are seasonal.

Others sell firewood and charcoal, but this also is not sustainable because forests around the village have been depleted.

The little income Grace’s mother earns goes toward food, clothes, and examination fees for Grace at school.

To earn extra income, Priscilla leases land where she grows and sells chilies. This allows her to save up for Grace’s needs.

Striving To Be a Child Champion

Grace was enrolled in the OneChild sponsorship program at Grace Hope Center in 2016 when she was 6. Since then, she has received learning materials, school uniforms, food baskets, and gifts from the Hope Center.

Hariri, center, is Grace’s favorite Child Champion at her Hope Center. Grace wants to be just like her when she grows up.

At the Hope Center, Grace enjoys listening to Bible stories from her teachers, playing, and loves the meals she gets every Saturday, which is the program day. She also learns about Jesus while at the Hope Center.

Her favorite Child Champion is Hariri. Grace says she admires Hariri’s kindness, calmness, and caring nature toward kids. She considers Hariri a friend.

“When I grow up, I hope to become a Child Champion like Hariri,” says Grace. “I would love to help kids, be kind, and caring to them so that they can freely approach me for any help and guidance. I will strive to be their friend because kids love friends. I would love to help kids get virtues and also guide them on the right path as the Bible says.”

Grace is in the fifth grade at Mongotini primary school. Her favorite subject in school is social studies. She enjoys learning about different communities in Kenya and the different cultures around the world.

Finding Happiness With Success

During her free time, Grace enjoys playing hide-and-seek with her friends. She also loves playing with dolls.

Because her mother could not afford to buy dolls, Grace makes them herself.

Unfortunately, Grace’s mother cannot afford to buy her dolls, but this does not stop Grace from playing with them – she makes her own dolls using clay.

“I learned making dolls when I was in kindergarten,” she says. “Then, I would make them using either clay or plastic paper if I needed them to last long. The plastic ones can be given a bath like real humans, unlike the clay ones which will waste away if washed.”

She adds, “Now I can make them quickly because I have mastered the art.”

She named her most recently made doll “Success.”

“For me, success is a reflection of a job well done to completion,” Grace says. “The doll was complete, and I was pleased with how it turned out to be. This inspired me to name my doll Success.”

She adds, “Success makes me happy. I love to be associated with victory. I get contented when I manage to beat a milestone in life or achieve an objective. In school, when I have all my assignments well done, I get happy, and that is success to me.”

In addition to playing, Grace also enjoys teaching her little friends new lessons she learns either at school or at the Hope Center.

“I have friends in school who are not enrolled at our Hope Center,” she says. “So, after attending program, I love to share with them the new Bible verses and any other new skill I learned while at the Hope Center.”

Glimmer of Leadership Qualities

Hariri, her Child Champion, says she noticed leadership qualities in Grace and the Hope Center staff are helping nurture it.

Even though she is still a child, Grace exhibits leadership qualities, according to her Child Champions.

“At her age, she is way responsible,” says Hariri. “After a day at the Hope Center, we realized that Grace remains behind to help the little kids bathe and lotion up after playing and getting dirty. She ensures they are all looking pretty as they go back home.”

This little act of kindness and care earned Grace the role as leader of the younger kids at the Hope Center.

Grace’s favorite bible verse is Philippians 4:4-7. She says the verse reminds her of God’s unending love and favor and inspires her to thirst for God’s Word.  

Grace poses with her mother, Priscilla.

Grace also loves cooking. “I enjoy helping my mother with house chores at home. But I love preparing my favorite dish, ugali (porridge), and sardines.”

Grace dreams of becoming a doctor one day so she can serve her community and also help eradicate poverty at home. She also loves fashion design and hopes to explore it in the future.

But despite Grace’s jolliness and hope in life, she, like many kids in hard places, faces challenges. Apart from her mother straining to constantly provide food for her, Grace has no bed and sleeps on a matt on the floor.

Most kids in the community, like Grace, struggle to complete their school assignments in the evening using kerosene lamps because their caregivers run out of money to buy kerosene.

Grace says kids in her community also lack mentors.

“Most kids that are not enrolled at the Hope Center don’t know Jesus, because no one urges them to attend church or teaches them about Jesus,” she says.

Lucky for her, she is enrolled in the sponsorship program and knows all about Jesus’ love for her and other children.

Give a child, like Grace, hope for a better future through sponsorship!

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