My good friend shared this image on his Facebook account this morning and it got me thinking about our church service last Sunday at the Nairobi Chapel.
In 2008, just after the post-election violence (PEV) rocked Kenya, the Nairobi Chapel, together with several other church communities embarked on a healing mission travelling around all the towns that were PEV hot-spots. It was on one of those sojourns that the church came across a group of class 8 students living in an internally displaced camp – Jikaze – who had almost no hope of doing their exams that year. Together with the host community and a local church, they embarked on providing housing for this group of students, seeing to their academic and social well-being, offering counseling and hosting them in real families before they sat their KCPE exams.
Last Sunday 16th, the Jikaze students came back to the Chapel to say “Thank-you” for helping them along in life. It was amazing to hear, albeit briefly of what has happened in many of these young adults, several years later.
That group of students paved the way for what would later come to be known as the Jubilee Scholarship Fund. The Fund, administered by the Nairobi Chapel caters to students from needy families by paying their school fees and providing mentorship for life. The fund, now in its 7th year has about 346 students in secondary schools around Kenya and a handful in University. The students pursuing their tertiary education are also supported by the fund along other avenues. It has been a long, meaningful journey for the students and their families who have more of a stake in these children.
The thing that amazes me about the Jubilee Fund is the concept of mentorship. Each student is paired with a mentor – almost all of whom are congregants at the Chapel – meeting with them at least three times a year. Chapel organizes ‘Mentors Days’ at every school holiday – where workshops are held for the students and their families and they get to sit with and listen in to their mentors. The interactions have changed not only the students – many of whom come in from the neighboring communities of Ngando and Kibera – but also allowed the mentors to pour in to the lives of these children. At the end of the year, they go for a residential camp where they are taught life skills, given spiritual nourishment and allowed to celebrate life as God has called them to.
The students on the Jubilee Scholarship have dreams. They want to be teachers, study politics or become doctors to save their communities. They have a chance in life. The Scholarship Fund relies on donations from individuals to see the children through school and so far, God has been faithful by providing through many of them to give the children a new lease in life.
There are so many needy children in Kenya, in Africa but this fund is helping those around our Jerusalem (Chapel’s geographic radius) – before reaching all of Judea. There are many corporate companies investing in education and funds bigger than what Jubilee Provides – but the Chapel is doing great things with the little it has for this program. I have interacted with several of the students – seen their potential and listened to their dreams – the ‘Yes I Can’ kind of pursuit with dogged determination, even if their socio-cultural backgrounds lend little to the future they want to pursue.
The Fund is always in need of more support. The Jubilee Fund hopes to grow the number of scholars to 1000 in 2015, but this can only be done through your assistance. To get more details about how to support, get in touch with Nairobi Chapel’s Social Justice department at firstname.lastname@example.org
Make a difference in Someone’s life today.