Sunday, January 20, 2013

Help Kenyan Kids Take Exams (They want to! Really!)

Even a small donation will make a big difference!
ONE OF THE SPONSORS from Australia wrote this; I could not have said it better myself! 

"Another plea for a couple dollars for "my" Kenyan children.

I know everyone's giving budget is stretched to the limit, but I'm hoping you can spare another $2 or $3 for a worthy cause.

For the past six years I've been involved with what is now called Plant-a-book International (formerly called Kenya Kids in Need) charity. I'm currently paying for the education and lodging for two teenage orphans who live at Galilee School in Sowete-Kayole slums of Nairobi, and for the education of three other students who live in the slums nearby. The school is the creation of a man who was a sponsored child himself.

The school has developed to the point where in 2009 the first graduating high school class took their final high school exams. (Every student passed!)
But while primary education is free in Kenya, secondary education is not. At Galilee, the neediest and orphan students mostly have overseas sponsors, for the rest, where most slum families live on $1 USD a day, it is a struggle to keep students at school and not contributing to the family income.

The Kenyan government charges $85 USD each for the students to take their final exams, and Plant-a-book International is trying to provide for as many students as possible to take the exams. (The headmaster also raises money from local businesses and slum families.) The time for payment is drawing near, and it would be tragic if these hopeful students were not able to sit their final exams.

These kids work so hard to do well...they have to share textbooks, they have no electricity to study at night, so they come to school at 6am to work; they form study groups and work together on Saturdays to help each other through the curriculum, and their courses are so much harder than Aussie ones...EVERY student has to do the equivalent of extension maths, for example, and they all study Shakespeare in English, which is usually their second or third language.

Having the high school certificate makes a huge difference to employment prospects for these students. The top 10% are eligible for a uni scholarship. Even a poor pass opens the possibility of an office job rather than being a maid or a street seller, thus breaking the poverty cycle for whole families.

If you can spare a couple of dollars you can use the PayPal donation button at You'll be donating in US dollars, which are close to parity with $AUS at present.

Think of the karma! Thanks for reading."

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Reconditioning Humanity

FROM THE "I wish I had thought of this" files... Check out this website: This is so great! 

The Idea: You get cards from them and leave them or give them with a Random Act of Kindness. The card asks the recipient to "pay it forward"--but there is also a number on the card that can be tracked through their website. . . Assuming people actually log in and report on their card, you could watch your little act of kindness grow and multiply!

I ordered three cards for Bob & Lilia & me. 

Go to their website! Order some cards (they're free)! Pass it on! 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Sermon Doodle Jan 6, 2013

IT WAS INTERESTING to me that today I started reading My Descent into Death on the recommendation of a friend. Fascinating book (one of those "near-death experience" stories, but this one started out badly!), and in the book, the author is told--in Heaven, no less!--the same two points that Ian preached on today: Know yourself, and know what you're about!
(Embarrassing challenge: Find my misspelling!) 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Nudibranch cake

Actual nudibrachs. Cute, but poisonous.

MY OLDEST DAUGHTER asked for a nudibranch cake for her birthday. Why?, you ask. Why not? So Lilia and I set out to create said cake. Here he is, in all of his sea sluggish glory...
Nudibranchus funfettius

I can only imagine what she'll ask for next year...

And, in a show of extraordinary family togetherness, my middle daughter drew a nudibranch. Here it is, with a link to her tumblr . . .

This is probably the only spot on the Internet where you can see nudibranchs all together in the three classic media of photography, colored pencil, and ... cake.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Sponsors urgently needed!!

I OFTEN MENTION Compassion International in my blog posts, but I want to give a shout out to another of my favorite sponsorship organizations: PlantaBook International. Our story is a modern-day miracle: One little school in Nairobi (Galilee School), with caring people from all over the globe supporting them through the Internet!

When you sponsor a child through PlantaBook (for as little as $12.50/month!), you also become part of an active, caring community of sponsors. You will get to know other sponsors as friends, all the while banding together to support the sweetest bunch of kids on the planet as they struggle to obtain an education.

Several things set this program apart, besides the fact that it truly is a grassroots effort, and a very successful one at that!--
My little Elvis, with the school supplies and school bag I bought for him
*The online store: This is part of the PlantaBook website and allows you to purchase items, from school uniforms and shoes and textbooks to umbrellas, mosquito nets, and soccer balls! Everything is purchased locally, so you are helping the local economy as well as your sponsored child. Added bonus: You get a photo of your child with the item you bought. Every time! 
*Fanuel: Fanuel, the director of the school, is (in my opinion) an angel on earth. You cannot be involved in Galilee without getting to know Fanuel and feeling privileged for the chance to do so.

Here is the latest "New Year's" message from Fanuel. Read it and then go to and get on board! 

Dear Sponsors and Friends,

The new year is here. 2012 has been successful for us and hope that 2013 will be even better.

Our prayers and wish is that more and more sponsors come forward to sponsor children both at WHS, GPS and HH for it is the sponsorship that has kept these children in school, put books in their hands, keep teachers in class and so much more. It enables the children to learn well and before our own eyes transformation of our poverty stricken community is taking place and soon and very soon light will be showing at the end of the tunnel. What we most need at the moment is to have more children sponsored so that we can help our community. On this may I take this opportunity to urge our sponsors whose children did the KCSE exams last year or are no longer coming to our schools to consider sponsoring another needy child, we all reach out to our friends, family, colleagues, church, etc. and spread the word, for the more sponsors we get we shall be able to keep so many more children in school and many lives will be transformed in the process.

This year our priorities are in improving the school infrastructure, ie our primary school classrooms, being that they are temporary they are not comfortable for children to learn in during rainy season because of leaking. Then we need to purchase the remaining plots of land and sanitary facilities.

At the same we would like to do some purchasing of textbooks and other teaching aids in areas we feel our children are not performing well, e.g mathematics, so as to improve their performance.

Thank you so very much. I wish you and your families a happy and successful year 2013.

God bless


Fanuel Okwaro
The Director
Galilee Primary School, WHS and Holly House Children's Homes