For the Love of Children

Stories and photos by Donna Atola, Kenya Field Communications Specialist, and Babylene Bocayes, Philippines Field Communications Specialist

Get to know some of our Child Champions in Kenya and the Philippines as they share about who they are and why they were called to serve kids in hard places.

Inspiring and Protecting Kids in Hard Places

At OneChild, a global community of Child Champions come together to help kids living in poverty so they may have hope and thrive. Here are some insights from Child Champions serving in Kenya regarding why they chose to give of themselves for the love of children.

Evelyn Reson: Transforming a Generation

As a child, Evelyn dreamt of becoming a nurse because she wanted to help and care for the sick in her community.

The more Evelyn worked with children, the more she realized this was her passion.

But she went on to pursue a career in social work and community development instead.

As a social worker, she interacted mostly with adults and, on a few occasions, with kids.

Before joining PEFA Kimana Hope Center in late 2021 when it was launched, Evelyn never thought she would work with children.

But as she began serving the kids at the Hope Center, her passion for them grew.

“I realized it is more than a job. It is service to God and to humanity,” Evelyn says.

“I love being with the kids and working at the Hope Center. I pray for the kids and for the work that I do at the center.”

The Child Champion says she draws her daily motivation from believing in the calling that God placed in her heart.

“I believe God placed in my heart the call to serve and transform this generation. So, when I wake up, I know I have a role to mentor and to care for them holistically and this motivates me to serve the kids,” Evelyn explains.

She believes children are seeds planted on Earth by God. Her hope for the seeds of God is that all of them achieve their God-given potential — and that all of the seeds germinate and thrive in life.

Joyce Shaban: Fulfilled by Children    

Joyce joined the Hope Center when her child was registered into the sponsorship program at Lokwii Hope Center in Turkana.

Joyce had planned on becoming a doctor, but when she started teaching kids at a Hope Center, her plans changed.

Turkana is an arid region in northwest Kenya. For a long time, this region has been neglected and lacks amenities like roads, schools, and health care services.

Joyce volunteered to rally other parents whenever the center needed support from the parents. From her active involvement in Hope Center activities, she was elected to represent the parents on the center’s committee.

As years went by, she took up other roles in leadership and she now volunteers as chairperson of the committee.

As a child, Joyce dreamt of becoming a doctor, but she later realized she loved children and changed her career path. And when the Hope Center presented an opportunity for her to serve the kids, she says she found fulfillment.

“When they know they can count on me as a mother and as their mentor, it gives me joy,” Joyce says. “I love to see kids hopeful for the future, and this motivates me to serve them.”

Apart from serving the kids, she also helps empower mothers of kids who attend the center by sharing her knowledge on financial literacy and entrepreneurship skills.

James Epuul: Inspiring Kids to Achieve Their Dreams

James was born and raised in Turkana. He perfectly understands what life is like for a child living in a hard place.

Growing up in poverty himself, James vowed to help kids in hard places when he grew up.

He was raised by relatives after his mother died, and despite the hardships he faced, he says he knew from a young age that he wanted to serve in a children’s ministry when he grew up.

“I saw the hardships in my community, and I endured them,” James says. “I remember saying to myself that I will work for and serve children when I grow up.”

His own positive transformation inspired him to want to be part of other kids’ transformation in his community.

“I am greatly inspired by the positive transformation of kids in my community, and I want to be part of their life journey and story.”

James’ hope for the kids he serves is that they achieve their dreams in life and join him in transforming their community for the better.

“I hope that when they are grown, they can pay it forward by serving and holding the hands of other kids in need.”

Kelvin Wesonga: Kids Part of God’s Plan

As a child, Kelvin wanted to become a pilot when he grew up. This changed when he attended university and earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology.

Kelvin says his heart was drawn to children when he ministered to kids living in poverty in settlements in the capital city of Nairobi.

While on campus as a member of the Christian Union, Kelvin joined a group that visited and ministered to kids living in poverty in settlements in the capital city of Nairobi.

During his weekly voluntary visits to minister to the kids, he says his heart was drawn to them.

Coupled with a course he was taking, Kelvin was able to have a better understanding of how children should be properly taken care of.

His journey at the Hope Center began out of curiosity. He wondered what happened with the kids he saw around the church compound on Saturdays. Kelvin then reached out to the leadership of the Hope Center and offered to volunteer at the center.

As a Child Champion, he says he loves to see kids achieve milestones as they work toward achieving their dreams. A Bible verse that motivates him is Proverbs 22:6, which says, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”

Kelvin believes that Child Champions are critical in God’s plan to positively transform communities.

“The most effective ministry that will lead to the healing of generations to come is the children’s ministry, and God uses Child Champions to reach out to the kids. This gives me extraordinary fulfillment,” he says.

Kelvin hopes that Child Champions around the world are encouraged to serve the kids knowing that they are in the will of God.

Benjamin Mwanyule: Child Protector Extraordinaire

Benjamin always knew he wanted to work with kids. His dream as a child was to become a teacher because he admired a teacher in his church who went on to become his Child Champion.

Having once been a sponsored child, Benjamin knew he wanted to pay it forward and become a Child Champion as an adult.

Having grown up in a hard place, Benjamin felt lucky to be enrolled in a sponsorship program in his church in Malindi.

From being a sponsored child, he says he had firsthand experience of the value of sponsorship and knew that he wanted to pay it forward by being a Child Champion.

Having served at Neema Hope Center in Malindi for the last three years, Benjamin says his joy is seeing kids become hopeful for their future.

He shares his story with the kids at the Hope Center to encourage them.

Benjamin is also passionate about child protection, and kids at the Hope Center know to come to him whenever there’s a child protection issue in their life.

“I know that we as champions are called to not only help them see the possibility of a greater future but to also protect and defend them so that they can achieve their maximum potential,” he says.


Joyce Kenga: A Champion Listener

To say that Joyce is caring, nurturing, kind, protective, loving, and devoted to kids in hard places is an understatement.

Joyce joined Matumaini Hope Center in 2018, after previously working as a kindergarten teacher in a government primary school and as a counselor in a clinic.

Joyce wants to help kids living in poverty find hope.

When she was serving as a kindergarten teacher, she realized she had a calling to the ministry.

As a child, Joyce hoped to become a nurse, but when she was a teacher in a primary school, she says an incident at school defined who she wanted to become.

She had asked kids to draw whatever they wanted to during a creative arts class. One of the kids drew a fire with a man on top, and Joyce was curious to know who the man was.

She says the child told her the man was his father, and that he wanted the man to burn because he did not like that his father beat his mother daily at home. At that moment, Joyce says, it occurred to her that she wanted to serve kids in hard places and help them have hope, and also restore families.

“I never knew how effectively kids would communicate through art, and from that day, I have learned to listen to what is spoken and what is not spoken by a child,” she says.

Joyce then pursued a career in social work and community development before joining the Hope Center. She currently serves at Joy Hope Center in Langobaya, Malindi.

Joyce is passionate about helping kids and their parents identify solutions to the problems they face at home and in the community.

“I love it when they are motivated to find solutions to their own problems,” she says. “It shows that they have hope. I believe that this is a step toward transforming a community. I wake up knowing that my input will contribute toward the change of heart and minds of the kids and parents who might be losing hope.”

At the Hope Center, Joyce enjoys visiting the kids at home to check on them, pray with their families, and create a friendship with them.

Her prayer for the kids she serves is that they may grow to find solutions to problems in the community and be the positive change that transforms it.


From Problem Child to Role Model for Kids

When Mary Cris was enrolled at a Hope Center, her life changed.

“I was a brat and disrespectful,” says Mary Cris about her life before she was sponsored through OneChild.

Sassing back to her parents was normal. She got into fights with other kids because of the bad words she said.

Mary Cris never thought she would change.

But the love, encouragement, and perseverance of her sponsor and Child Champions helped her learn to make better choices.

The Transformation Begins

Mary Cris was enrolled at a Hope Center in the Philippines when she was 9. At first, she couldn’t get along with other kids because she would pick fights with them.

But spending more time in her Hope Center changed her. As she learned love and patience from her Child Champions, she began to love others and pray for them instead of picking fights with them.

“I learned that I cannot be a role model if I have this attitude,” Mary Cris says.

As the years went by, she enjoyed joining with the other kids in their activities such as singing and storytelling at her Hope Center. She recalls one of her teachers who made those activities especially fun.

And like the other kids in the program, Mary Cris also received school supplies, uniforms, and help with her school fees.

The Birth of a Role Model

Growing up in the program, she looked up to three Child Champions who influenced her to become a role model herself.

First, her Hope Center Director Elizabeth Bihag, who is like a grandmother to her.

“She corrects me when I am wrong,” says Mary Cris.

Mary Cris credits her Child Champions and sponsor for helping her make it through school.

Not only does Elizabeth correct Mary Cris when needed, but she helps her toward her goals for the future through financial support of her college studies.

Another Child Champion who made a difference in her life was always there for her and still gives her advice today. And her youth leader in church, who was also a teacher in the Hope Center, showed her how to engage with kids and capture their attention.

When a child receives love and support, the impact doesn’t stop with that child. Often, he or she goes on to transform the next generation. That is true of Mary Cris.

“I know in my heart that I need to teach the children to share what I learned,” Mary Cris says. She now teaches lessons from the Bible to 8-year-old kids in her old Hope Center.

The girl who once had trouble getting along with others is now a worship team member and youth leader in her church.

Hope Center Director Elizabeth says, “[Mary Cris] was an asset in our Hope Center as she has ushered her family to be active in church.”

Thankful for Opportunities

Mary Cris, 20, who is now a college student studying tourism, is grateful to her Child Champions and sponsor for helping her get through high school and into college. She is also grateful for receiving Sponsor Ministry Training so she can help serve and mentor the children.

“OneChild is an opportunity for poor children to go to school,” she says. “My hope is they will take advantage of it and be inspired to finish their schooling.”

Help a child living in a hard place get the love and support he or she needs to succeed. Sponsor a child today!


Help this story grow:

We are accountable to the children we serve AND to our donors.

Our accountability to our donors is one of our highest priorities. Our goal is to use the funds entrusted to us as wise stewards. To do this requires continued monitoring of our fund distribution. OneChild is also a member in good standing with the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA)