A Gift of Hope

By Donna Atola With Robyn Wilson, Photos Courtesy of Hope Center Staff

When a sponsor sends a special birthday gift, a family in Kenya receives a new home — and a new beginning.

Jane, a 15-year-old girl in Malindi, Kenya, always dreamed of becoming a doctor. But when her home was destroyed during heavy rains, her dreams were destroyed along with it.

The oldest of seven children, Jane lived with her parents and siblings in a two-room, grass-thatched roof house. One room served as her parents’ bedroom. The other room was used as a living room during the day and a bedroom for the kids at night. Their family owned one bed made of papyrus reeds and wood frames, which Jane’s parents slept on at night, while the seven siblings shared one mat on the floor.

Jane in front of her previous house

Jane sits outside of her previous home before it collapsed during heavy rains.

In October 2020, Jane’s dad, John, decided to add a small structure to their home so Jane could have her own room. “It was bad that my daughter was sharing a sleeping area with her siblings, who are much younger than her,” says John. “Being an adolescent, Jane needed a quiet and calm reading area to study.”

But in December, before the construction was completed, their house collapsed during a storm. The family desperately needed shelter — immediately.

Although John, 68, works hard fishing and selling charcoal on the roadside, he barely makes enough to provide for his family. He didn’t have any extra resources to hire construction workers. So, he built a temporary, one-room house for his family of nine.

With even less privacy than before, Jane found it nearly impossible to study. She had just started her final year of primary school, but she wasn’t sure if she would pass her final exams.

However, on Jane’s 15th birthday, her life changed. Sally, Jane’s sponsor, sent Jane a special birthday gift. Child Champions at the Joy Hope Center, where Jane attends, consulted with the family to find out what they needed most. Jane’s parents decided to use the special gift to purchase iron roofing sheets, which would make it possible for them to build a home that could withstand heavy rain.

Jane in front of new home

Jane is incredibly thankful for her new home — and new beginning.

“I am excited that my sponsor sent me a gift for my birthday!” says Jane. “It’s fulfilling to know that she prays for me and my family, thinks about me, and even remembers my birthday. She not only sent me a gift, but she also sent my whole family a gift. I lack the words to express my happiness. I just want to thank you, Sally!”

After the iron sheets were purchased, Child Champions from OneChild’s Kenya office travelled 425 miles from Nairobi to Jane’s remote village to help construct a new, stable home. “I was delighted,” says John. “I am very grateful for the OneChild team. There is a lot of love and unity from people who barely know me, and this is something that is so rare to find in today’s world.”

Jane and family mudding the home

Child Champions and kids from the community volunteer to make Jane’s dream of having a safe and stable home a reality.

Jane’s mom, Nzingo, is also incredibly grateful. “This was an act of generosity and kindness,” says Nzingo. “Jane’s sponsorship has not only provided for our physical needs—it has also instilled virtues in our children.”

John is even allowing his kids to attend church because he has witnessed a transformation in Jane. “Ever since Jane was registered in the program, I have noticed that her behavior is different from other kids in the village,” says John. “Jane’s sponsorship has helped our family a lot.”

Jane, her parents and several of her siblings stand in front of their new home

Jane, her parents and several of her siblings stand in front of their new home, which Jane’s sponsor helped provide through a special birthday gift.

Now, Jane is excited about the future. In her new home, she has a small room of her own where she studies in peace. She is determined to pursue her dreams once again. “I am committed to my studies,” says Jane. “When I become a doctor, I will be able to care for my family and all the kids in my village.” Sally’s special gift didn’t only give Jane a new home — it also filled her with new hope.

“I am excited that my sponsor sent me a gift for my birthday!” says Jane. “It’s fulfilling to know that she prays for me and my family, thinks about me, and even remembers my birthday. She not only sent me a gift, but she also sent my whole family a gift. I lack the words to express my happiness. I just want to thank you, Sally!”

You’re also welcome to send your sponsored child’s family a special gift. Any amount will make an incredible difference in his or her life!

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