Mar 25, 2021

For all of us, 2020 has been a year like no other.

Finally, we were can start computer classes again!
Finally, we were can start computer classes again!

On March 11th 2020 the World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic—and turned all of our lives upside down. One year ago a hug went from a warm greeting to a health hazard. We were forced to separate from friends and family; tragically, some of us lost friends and family.

The first case of Covid 19 was detected in Kenya on March 13th. The government immediately sprang into action, closing all schools, small shops, open markets, factories and basically any means of employment where the wage earner was surviving on a bare minimum salary to begin with, and no backup savings. Often, if a son or daughter had a job in one of the larger cities, money was sent home to elderly parents each month to enable them to pay for the minimum essentials of food and shelter.

Being a school, we were told to close Kijiji Mission and send all of our students’ home to their overcrowded slums. Fortunately, we were able to convince the area officials to let most of our students stay with us, where they would be safe. We just weren't allowed to function as a school, meaning that Martha could no longer follow her curriculum.

Not a problem! There was an immediate need for facemasks. So, we got to work making facemasks to be given out to anyone in the community who couldn't afford to purchase one.

 With the help of local Lions Club, Rotary, Rotaract Club and local small NGO's we were able to get thousands of facemasks out to the most vulnerable in our community as quickly as possible.

Within a very short time it became obvious that women who relied on a few dollars a day to feed their children by doing washing, housework or selling in the markets had nothing to feed their families. As soon as we were out of our two-week quarantine period at the end of March, we did our first food hamper distribution program, and we've been doing them every week ever since.

Our focus is the elderly, child headed households, single female headed households and people living with disabilities. One valuable lesson that has come out of our journey through 2020 is that this segment of the population will need our assistance long after the "new normal" sets in. Martha and Ephantus have committed themselves to doing the food distribution on weekends for as long as Springs of Hope Foundation can afford to provide the food and a small petrol allowance for Ephantus' donated vehicle.

Last weekend we were able to distribute 190 food hampers to the elderly and people living with disabilities. Each hamper contains enough food to feed a family of four for two weeks.

On most food distribution occasions we are able to do more than provide much needed food. We usually come across situations where the family needs additional assistance or counseling.

Recently we met a young mother with two young boys who were both born blind. Ephantus was able to assist their mother by getting them enrolled into a school in Nakuru that caters to the special needs of blind children. Something their single mother would never have known how to go about doing.

Finally, on September 1st we were able to bring in new students. Primary and high schools were still closed, but as a vocational training school Kijiji Mission was able to begin teaching again. We'd built up a backlog of very needy young women who were eager to join our 12-month program. Most had been recommended by the area chiefs who we met when doing our food distribution program. Unfortunately, we can only bring them in one at a time, placing them in our now unused volunteer house for a two-week quarantine period. We've been admitting new students for the past six months and we still have young women on the waiting list.

At last, the students who began their 12-month training with us in January 2020 will be graduating at the end of this month. Normally graduation is a huge celebration. Families often hire a minivan to bring the many family members who want to be part of their graduation ceremony.

Sadly, like the last graduation ceremony in August 2020, only the students and staff will be able to celebrate their many accomplishments and personal sacrifices during the past 16 months.

Thank you for being part of our unexpected, unpredictable journey. During the past 12 months we've learned that we're capable of doing many things when called to serve. Such as instantly pivoting from being a vocational training school to a mass food hamper and facemask production facility. By the way, the girls loved being in a position to give back to their communities, and often worked on the facemasks through their lunch break and on weekends.

We've learned so much about the unaddressed needs of the elderly and people living with disabilities. During the past 12 months, because of your generous support we've been able to assist the most vulnerable in our community. We are committed to continuing with the food program, and hopefully seeing it grow.

But, most importantly 2020 has shown us all that, when the going gets tough, the very best in everyone comes out.  Martha, Ephantus, Beryl, and our students did an outstanding job of getting everyone through a very stressful 12 months.

My huge gratitude and thanks go out to our team in Kenya and to our generous supporters all over the world who make it all possible,

 

Warmest regards,

Jennifer Hughes-Bystrom

We were all so happy to be back in the classroom.
We were all so happy to be back in the classroom.
Tailoring students, busy with their assignments.
Tailoring students, busy with their assignments.
Elderly recipients of our food hamper program.
Elderly recipients of our food hamper program.
Young mother with two blind sons.
Young mother with two blind sons.

Links:

Mar 23, 2021

For all of us, 2020 has been a year like no other.

Elderly recipients of our weekly food program
Elderly recipients of our weekly food program

On March 11th 2020 the World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic—and turned all of our lives upside down. One year ago a hug went from a warm greeting to a health hazard. We were forced to separate from friends and family; tragically, some of us lost friends and family.

The first case of Covid 19 was detected in Kenya on March 13th. The government immediately sprang into action, closing all schools, small shops, open markets, factories and basically any means of employment where the wage earner was surviving on a bare minimum salary to begin with, and no backup savings. Often, if a son or daughter had a job in one of the larger cities, money was sent home to elderly parents each month to enable them to pay for the minimum essentials of food and shelter. This essential lifeline dried up immediately to this most vaulnerable sector of our community.

Being a school, we were told to close Kijiji Mission and send all of our students’ home to their overcrowded slums. Fortunately, we were able to convince the area officials to let most of our students stay with us, where they would be safe. We just weren't allowed to function as a school, meaning that Martha could no longer follow her curriculum.

Not a problem! There was an immediate need for facemasks. So, we got to work making facemasks to be given out to anyone in the community who couldn't afford to purchase one.

 With the help of local Lions Club, Rotary, Rotaract Club and local small NGO's we were able to get thousands of facemasks out to the most vulnerable in our community as quickly as possible.

Within a very short time it became obvious that women who relied on a few dollars a day to feed their children by doing washing, housework or selling in the markets had nothing to feed their families. As soon as we were out of our two-week quarantine period at the end of March, we did our first food hamper distribution program, and we've been doing them every week ever since.

Our focus is the elderly, child headed households, single female headed households and people living with disabilities. One valuable lesson that has come out of our journey through 2020 is that this segment of the population will need our assistance long after the "new normal" sets in. Martha and Ephantus have committed themselves to doing the food distribution on weekends for as long as Springs of Hope Foundation can afford to provide the food and a small petrol allowance for his donated vehicle.

Last weekend we were able to distribute 190 food hampers to the elderly and people living with disabilities. Each hamper contains enough food to feed a family of four for two weeks.

On most food distribution occasions we are able to do more than provide much needed food. We usually come across situations where the family needs additional assistance or counseling.

For example, we met two brothers who were both born blind. We were able to assist their mother by getting them enrolled into a school in Nakuru that caters to the special needs of blind children. Something their single mother would never have known how to go about doing.

Finally, on September 1st we were able to bring in new students. Primary and high schools were still closed, but as a vocational training school Kijiji Mission was able to begin teaching again. We'd built up a backlog of very needy women who were eager to join our 12-month program. Most had been recommended by the area chiefs who we met when doing our food distribution program. Unfortunately, we can only bring them in one at a time, placing them in our now unused volunteer house for a two-week quarantine period. We've been admitting new students for the past six months and we still have women on the waiting list.

Thank you for being part of our unexpected, unpredictable journey. During the past 12 months we've learned that we're capable of doing many things when called to serve. Such as instantly pivoting from being a vocational training school to a mass production facility. By the way, the girls loved being in a position to give back to their communities, and often worked on the facemasks through their lunch break and on weekends.

We've learned so much about the unaddressed needs of the elderly and people living with disabilities. During the past 12 months, because of your generous support we've been able to assist in our modest way. We are committed to continuing with the food program, and hopefully seeing it grow.

But, most importantly 2020 has shown us all that, when the going gets tough, the very best in everyone comes out.  Martha, Ephantus, Beryl, and our students did an outstanding job of getting everyone through a very stressful 12 months.

My huge gratitude and thanks go out to our team in Kenya and to our generous supporters all over the world who make it all possible,

 

Warmest regards,

Jennifer Hughes-Bystrom

Community members at one of our weekly food sites
Community members at one of our weekly food sites
Single mothers & elderly disabled food recipients
Single mothers & elderly disabled food recipients
Hearing impaired members of our community.
Hearing impaired members of our community.
Last weekend we distributed 190 food hampers
Last weekend we distributed 190 food hampers
These two brothers were both born blind.
These two brothers were both born blind.

Links:

Dec 28, 2020

When you empower girls and young women, everyone thrives.

When girls are educated and supported, their entire family & community benefits.

At the Springs of Hope Foundation, we believe that poverty shouldn’t stop a family from feeding their family or sending their children to school and that girls should not be forced to carry the burden of domestic labor.

All children deserve to go to school, follow their dreams, and pursue the career that they want. Education is at the heart of this. But for young girls who missed out on an education during their formative years, our vocational training and youth economic empowerment projects provide a second chance for young women to develop skills and knowledge that can help them find employment or inspire them to become their own boss.

We work to provide vocational training to young women and help them set up a business. We empower our young women with financial literacy training, business management, and computer literacy. 

When girls are educated, it means more jobs for everyone and a reduction in overall poverty. But outside of the economy, our vocational training and financial independence training program completely transform an individual woman’s life.

We are incredibly grateful for all the support we have received over the years and excited by the impact that this has helped us to ensure.

This Holiday Season please consider making a year-end donation to Springs of Hope Foundation.

Wishing you and your loved ones good health and happiness in 2021.

Gratefully yours,

Jennifer Hughes-Bystrom

Founder/CEO

Springs of Hope Foundation 

 

A volunteer running a class on business management
A volunteer running a class on business management

Links:

 
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