On my recent trip to our project in Kiang’ombe, I met a little girl named Wambui. I wondered why she was in our program because at 7 years old, she’s much older than the other children and seemed like a bright kid who could be attending a local primary school. For the teachers though, this was a decision they didn’t have to think about for long. They tell me their job isn’t to chase away, but to help where they can and that’s exactly what they’re doing for this child and her family.
Wambui is the fourth generation to live in extreme poverty at their home in Kiang’ombe. Life hasn’t been easy with a disabled grandmother, no father, losing all 3 of her siblings, and having a mother that struggles to find work while battling alcoholism. School is something her family hasn’t had much experience with because it’s always been too expensive to afford. When you’re struggling to survive from day to day, I can understand why school wouldn’t be very high on your list of priorities.
Wearing the same raggedy shirt and sweater of what used to be a school uniform, Wambui is present at school daily and is excelling. There’s also been a change in Wambui’s mom since her daughter has been coming to the school. While alcoholism is still a struggle, she’s making a concerted effort to find work and provide for her daughter. Staff have noticed hygiene improvements and she’s also volunteering at the school occasionally. “She’s really trying to change,” said one of the teachers. When I asked why, they said, “This could be the first time that someone has done something for them without asking for anything in return.” It just goes to show how a little kindness and love can go a long way to give people hope. I’m excited to see the changes that continue to happen with this family. My hope and prayer is that Wambui’s children know a different life than her previous 4 generations. Education is a step in the right direction to make that change possible. Megan J. Steele
Short clip of Wambui in class – she is so focused on teacher Mercy’s instructions.