New Board Member

On September 22, Ruby Buchholtz joined the World Scholarship Initiative Board of Directors. She brings to our group passion for our cause, talent, ambition, and experience serving in Peace Corps in the Philippines. A native of Eugene, Oregon, Ruby earned her Bachelors degree at the University of Oregon and is currently pursuing a Masters in Environmental Management at Portland State University.

Ruby joins Michael Bode, Katie Cobb, Tony Mecum, and Tom Bode on the WSI Board.

Ruby

Spring Update

By Tom Bode, President

Lots of exciting events have taken place for WSI over the last several months.

First, in February we took on two new students to sponsor!  Lydia and Marion both did extremely well on their KCPE (Kenyan Completion of Primary school Exam) and were accepted to attend Christ the King Secondary School. Marion wrote in her first letter to us:

My Mother was happy for the scholarship you gave us. She had no plans of me joining form one [first year secondary school]. She did not have even a single cent to pay my school fees but you took that burden to be yours. I don’t know how to express the joy that I have but only to say thank you so much.

Lydia and Marion have done well with the difficult transition from living at home to life at a boarding school. On their first report cards as well: Lydia is ranked 11th out of her class of 80 and Marion is ranked 47th.

The five other students continue to express their thanks as well. All of our students attend individualized tutoring during school breaks (there are three breaks of four weeks each during the year). Triza, Peris, and Villitracia, our first class of sponsored students, are halfway done with their third year! I suppose its just as surprising to me as it is to them how fast the time has gone. This term, Peris was sickened by Typhoid and spent a few weeks in the hospital, impacting her normally stellar performance. It is a reminder of the difficulties faced by these students – and everyone in the developing world – where diseases that we take for granted as not being present, actually are present and life-threatening. She is fine now.

The boys, Gidraf and Paul, wrote in their recent letters about a trip they took to Lake Victoria, located several hours from their school. Lake Victoria is one of the Great Lakes of Africa and the third largest lake in the world. Paul tells us that they ate many types of fish, saw an almost 400-year-old tortoise, and went on a boat ride. Gidraf wrote about his favorite game, rugby: “I am on the school team and I play position 6. This season we participated and managed to reach the district level. We were very happy because that was the first time to reach there.”

It’s been almost three years since I started this organization, and I’ve been consistently overwhelmed with amazement at the support we’ve received. Because of all of our efforts, there are now seven (!!) students attending high school, doing well, and growing up to their full potential who would not otherwise be able to do so. That is an amazing achievement – thank you all for making it possible.

Marion with Mom

Marion with her mother

Lydia with Mom

Lydia with her mother

Join us on December 11

On December 11, World Scholarship Initiative will be taking part in the World Affair Council of Oregon’s International Development Showcase, an annual event that brings together locally based charities working internationally on issues of development. Guests at the event will have a chance to meet the staff and learn about the efforts of WSI and other noteworthy organizations.

Registration is free. For more information, visit the event page at World Affairs Council.

Hope to see you there!

Four More?

By Tom Bode, President

Here’s a quick update on what’s happening at WSI:

The Kenyan school year ends on November 14, at which point our five current students will have 3 weeks of extra tutoring (that sort of thing is common there) before heading home for Christmas. Some will stay in Nakuru, while other will go to their “home home” – that is, the rural village where their family is from.

Meanwhile, eighth graders across the country will take their final Primary School Exam over three days, which determines which high schools they can get into. The word on the ground is that there are up to four students who could score high enough to earn a scholarship from us – and all four are girls! Millie, our Kenya organizer, asked me how many of the four we could sponsor. I told her all four – how could we leave any deserving student out?

 

Please remember that we have wonderful Handmade in Kenya notecards for sale – 10 for $20, including shipping! Even Amazon can’t beat that. Your donation means that we will be prepared to sponsor as many students as are deserving next year. Thank you!

New Volunteer

By Tom Bode, President

This week WSI is pleased to welcome Libby Martin as a new volunteer and member of the WSI team. Libby graduated from the University of Rochester in 2011 with a double major in anthropology and public health. She has a passion for international public health and community development and has volunteered with medical NGOs in Uganda, Guatemala and Cambodia. She is thrilled to be joining WSI to help create positive opportunities that benefit both the students and their community.

Libby will be working on fundraising and outreach projects. We’re all excited to see what she will accomplish!

478045_4890552869043_127897601_oKaribuni, Libby!

 

Tutoring

By Tom Bode, President

The Kenyan school year runs January through December and is divided into three terms, with a month break in between each term. In an equatorial country, having a “summer break” doesn’t make sense, because there is no summer.

The students are now on their August break, having completed the second term of the year. This break, we are trying something new: all five students are enrolled in a private tutoring program. They attend tutoring in small groups with other students and receive instruction on their weakest three subjects. For most of our students, their weakest subjects are Math, English, and Swahili. The instructors are teachers who are also on break (and looking for a little money on the side, as is the Kenyan way). The teachers and the program are recommended by Millie, a former teacher of the students at St. Paul’s and an invaluable World Scholarship Initiative volunteer. Our five students will receive tutoring daily for three weeks, three subjects each. The total cost is a remarkably inexpensive $120.

I am confident that this tutoring program will assist our students in their performance at secondary school. When I hear the students’ thoughts on the program, I will share them with you.

Appreciation

By Tom Bode, President

Today I received an unsolicited letter from the mother of one of the students that we sponsor. The heartfelt appreciation in it recharges my dedication to provide these students with the education and opportunity that they deserve. The chance to truly change someone’s life is rare, but this letter shows me that we are doing it for these students and their families. There is no way that I could run this program without the support of all of our donors, so please consider this letter addressed to you as well:

Hey Tom, I hope you are fine. We here are all fine. It’s one year now since you were here, we still miss you dearly. Remember God brought you here and you became part of us, that’s why we can hardly forget you. I thank God because if it was not for you, my daughter could not have entered into a secondary school. I thank you. I pray for you every moment that God shall give you good health and bless you mightily. Please pass my thanks and appreciations to the other donors, may almighty God bless you abundantly for your generous support to my daughter.

She tells me that, whenever she remembers you, she recalls everything you used to teach them. So, she puts more effort on her studies so that your every support and care to her shall not be in cain. She appreciates.

I thank God for that we are alive today. Although you are very far away, remember you are part of us and so more to my daughter as parents. So, I am humbled to have you in my life. Greet Katie so much.

I love you and miss you dearly.

Snapshot of Kenya

Public transit in Kenya is largely an unregulated system of privately owned mini-buses, called Matatus. These mini buses pick up as many passengers as possible and compete fiercely for passengers. They run routes in cities or between cities and are a common site everywhere in Kenya.

This video, prepared by the New York Times, is a great snapshot of life on the Kenyan street. The children we sponsor are familiar with these buses, the dirt roads, the market stands, the corruption, and the questionable names. It’s a fantastic demonstration of how a different culture operates.

Link to Video

 

The “Lottery of Birth”

How much of your life can be attributed to the circumstances of your birth? Recently, New York Times Columnist Nick Krsitoff described a meeting between two young women, one a college student from Long Island, the other a young wife in Myanmar, who were born into vastly different circumstances. He writes, “talent is universal, but opportunity is not.” The truth of this statement is as visible in international comparisons as it is in your own neighborhood. What we’re doing at WSI is trying to provide opportunity to a few students who are a bit short on it and share some of our good fortune from the “lottery of birth” with others who have a little less.