Reflecting on meeting WSI students

By Jacque Bode

In May 2019, a group of WSI supporters traveled to Kenya to visit the students and meet with the program’s volunteers and partners. This post is the first of several by that group of travelers. Jacque Bode is the mother of WSI co-founder Tom Bode. -Ed.

What a joyful challenge to try to put into words the enormity of experiences of my visit to Kenya.  By far, encountering the Kenyan people and their culture, was my favorite – and most especially, meeting and talking with our Kenyan students.  

I have deep admiration for these young people.  They have grown up in poverty – a kind of poverty that I believe rarely exists in the USA – but with their intellect, determination and ability to sustain hard work for years, they will be a force of positive change in their communities and the world.  I was especially touched by Brenda, who overcame her shyness to visit with me a bit.  She said she misses her mother very much – I was sad to learn the students are not allowed to visit family except on school breaks – but her education is so important she is willing to endure her homesickness to continue her studies. She shared that her dream is to become a pediatrician, or if that isn’t possible, a teacher, or an accountant. Unlike in our country, a Kenyan student’s choices are determined (and limited) by how they place on qualifying test scores.  After visiting with Brenda, I was left believing she will indeed become a pediatrician.  

Another striking moment for me was visiting with Peris and Villatricia at dinner.  These two young women are at two different universities in Nairobi (Peris will be a junior in chemical engineering and Villatricia will be a sophomore in education). They were quietly well spoken, pleasant and clearly happy to be able to visit with Katie and Tom.  However, at one point in the conversation, the subject of politics came up.  Both young ladies became quite animated in their discussion, revealing excellent analytical skills, and an ability to clearly convey their own views and ideas with a maturity and honesty that was very impressive.  I thought to myself that if this is a measure of the success of all the supporters of WSI, then we are wildly successful!

I was struck, too, at the strong emotional connection the students feel with Katie and Tom.  Clearly they idolize Katie and Tom, and Katie particularly showered the students with love, affection and appreciation.  You could see the girls just soak up Katie’s energy and faith in them – and see how Katie’s faith in them inspires their faith in themselves. You can see how they want to become the same kind of strong, smart, well-educated professional woman Katie has become.  The boys, also, enjoy that special connection but are a bit shyer to express this with words. Their beaming faces tells it all.

My ‘take home’ recognition from my experience in Kenya is that while it may feel very discouraging to make big changes in our complex and troubled world, powerful change can and does happen on an individual level – individuals like Katie and Tom who have the energy and determination to devote themselves to WSI (in spite of their already very full lives), and who inspire the young people WSI supports in Kenya.  These young women and men already are a positive force in their communities. I believe they will continue to be forces of change – not only because they will have an education and the skills to make good decisions in their own lives and the lives of their families, but they have the drive and capacity to continue to strive to become the best they can – and to inspire others to follow their example. 

My heart is full.  I am grateful to have had this experience.

The author, Jacque Bode (right)

WSI Trivia Night

WSI’s annual Trivia Night fundraiser is just around the corner! For our fifth year, we’re sticking with what works and changing nothing except the questions! Come have a good time enjoying pizza and beer, competing at trivia, and supporting a great cause!

When: July 25 – doors at 6 pm, trivia game starts at 7 pm. Come early to grab a good seat.

Where: Lucky Lab Beer Hall, 1945 NW Quimby Ave, Portland

Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 at the door. Buy tickets online today.

Prizes will include award winning lemon meringue pies.

We will also have photos of the students, an update from our recent trip to Kenya, and handmade items from Kenya for sale.

We hope to see you there!

High school graduates bound for university

By Tom Bode, President
Lydia and Marion graduated from Christ the King Girls High School in December 2018 after four years of support from WSI and earned impressive results on their all-important final exam. Their outstanding achievements during that time demonstrate the immense opportunity that WSI funding provides for young people and showcases the hard work, skill, and maturity of these two young women. WSI recently received letters from these students, which you can read on our blog.

Marion and Lydia spend their last months at school exclusively preparing for the national KCSE exam, taken by high school seniors across the country, to determine their eligibility for further education. Students who score at the highest levels are guaranteed a spot in a four year university degree program (and some government scholarships). In 2018, only 13 percent of student taking the KCSE scored in that category. Lower scores earn students a position in shorter programs and technical and vocational schools.

Lydia and Marion both scored well above the top cut-off, allowing them to continue their education at a four-year university. With scores in hand, they are now waiting to hear which university they will attend when classes start in the fall. We are very proud of their achievements and excited to hear where they will go next.

WSI has three older students who previously earned admission to university through their scores on the KCSE. Peris is currently in her second year at the University of Nairobi, Kenya’s premier institution of higher education, where she is earning a degree in chemical engineering. Triza is attending Mt. Kenya University, where she is studying education with hopes of becoming a teacher. Villitracia is studying business at the Co Operative University of Kenya. WSI provides support to university students through its Professional Education program.

Great words from this year’s two graduates

Marion and Lydia graduated from Christ the King Girls’ Boarding High School in December 2018. They are the sixth and seventh WSI sponsored students to complete high school. They wrote us letters soon after finishing school that perfectly capture the driving purpose behind everything WSI does: providing bright students with the financial support they need to become their best selves. We encourage you to read these letters and be moved by their success and maturity, just as we were.

Marion’s Letter

Marion’s letter

To World Scholarship Initiative

When I think critically and try to figure out some of the people who have helped me in life then I cannot fail to say that World Scholarship Initiative is one of them. You are some of the best people in the whole world since you have shown me endless love and compassion from the time when I joined high school up to now when I have completed my high school life. I lack words to express my gratitude to you, but I pray that God may give me good results in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Completion exam (KCSE) since it is the only way that I can thank you.

Indeed, you are great people in my life since it is only because of you that I joined a boarding school, something that I had never thought of in my entire life.  Also it is because of you that I managed to live a comfortable life in school having been provided with everything including school fees; and yet some of my classmates came from well up families but they could not live such a life.

Surely, you are God sent into lives of many children from St. Paul’s Primary School, me being one of them.  We had never thought of living the life we are living right now.  Many of us used to speak broken English, never ate lunch, used to walk for a very long distance to school and also were always sent home for coming late to school but now all these have been turned into a lovely and comfortable life.  I tell you, many of us now can afford a smile on our faces since we can see light ahead of us.

Personally, I have benefitted a lot since my life is not the same.  I thank God for my staying in Christ the King whereby I have matured to be a great women in the future.  At least now I have courage to stand before people and speak to them courageously, and this is all because of the chance that I was given to be the school president.

I assure you that Christ the King is a good school since it has enlightened me in my education, it has taught me how to be a good leader, it has given me a chance to explore the country through symposiums and trips, it has also enabled me to participate in sports and games such as netball, football, volleyball, and handball, and in fact, I was awarded a certificate for being the best handball player during the interclass competition.

The words that I have used may sound familiar and useless but from deep within my heart I say “thank you so much.”  As for me I urge and plead with you to continue with this program, since by doing so you are touching previous lives of those children who have great dreams and goals, but they are unable to achieve them due to lack of support from their parents and those around them.

In conclusion, it is my pleasure to say that I am very grateful for the support you have given to me and I hope that you will continue.  With all those remarks I once more say thank you and may God bless you.

From: Shikokti Marion Mbaisi

Lydia’s letter

Lydia’s letter

Hello! Receive greetings from Lydia.  Am doing fine, I have just completed my secondary education and am hoping for the best results.  To Kate, then you for the letter you sent and congratulations because you are married. Am happy to hear that Mr. Tom got employed thanks to God that is good.

To all members who have been contributed to my academic support am grateful and am proud of you. I have never lacked anything during my schooling period, you made me comfortable in school and my part was only to study.  Once more I say thank you.  

Those of you who came to Kenya and we went for a tour, I thank you all it was just a wonderful day and a good interaction.  Am also grateful to Miss Wanjohi because she has always guided me and also encouraged me in everything until now am done.  

My mum has been doing a great job as a parent and she supported me in everyway for sure I had a smooth time with her during my studying period.

The school that you took me to study was also good, it had all the facilities required.  In terms of discipline was also high even if the Principal was so strict she always did her best and ensured we had a conducive environment.  

When I was in form one the school life seemed to be boring since had never been in a boarding school but as days went by I became used to and I really enjoyed being there for sure you chose a better place we call a school, wow! Thank I appreciate a lot.

I will never forget you all since you have brought me this far, it was a very long journey but you never gave up then you are very caring and dedicated.  God bless you.  I thank you so much and I wish you all the best in your lives.

Yours faithfully

Lydia Moraa

Three new students

By Tom Bode, President

With a new year comes new students. In Kenya, eighth grade students receive the results of their all-important national test, the KCPE, in December. In January, we learned which students from St. Paul’s Primary School have been accepted into our partner high schools.

We are pleased to announce that this year two students from St. Paul’s qualified for a World Scholarship Initiative scholarship: Yvonne and Robinson. Yvonne will join four other WSI scholars at the girls’ high school, Christ the King Girls Boarding School. Robinson will join one other boy at the boys’ high school, Loreto Boys Boarding School.

That’s not all. This year, for the first time, WSI has identified a student from another primary school, Bondeni Primary. Located a short distance from St. Paul’s Primary School, Bondeni Primary faces many of the same issues as St Paul’s: lack of funding and a student population that is quite poor. In an experiment to expand our reach, WSI has accepted Eunice from Bondeni Primary to join Yvonne and the others at Christ the King.

These students works hard in primary school and did well.  Thanks to the support of our donors, WSI can provide these students with the opportunity to attend a high school fitting for their drive and intellect.


Peris’s Story

By Tom Bode, President

Last time we visited Kenya, we recorded Peris telling us about growing at St. Pauls’ Primary School and eventually becoming a student at Nairobi University.  It’s a powerful testament to the success that WSI and all its donors help these student to achieve.