Expanding the Vision: Starting a School

March 18, 2019 | 0 Comments

I remember 6 years ago when we started Grain of Rice Project that we literally had almost nothing…only a borrowed sewing machine and some beads.  We humbly started working in a tin shack beauty salon with our artisans crammed in one tiny backroom that was so small you could stretch your arms out and touch a wall with each hand.  It was dirty, mice infested, and reeked of lacquer from the furniture business next door.

 

And yet we had a lot of faith—faith that this little idea could be something more and make a bigger impact.

 

That mustard seed of faith has continued to grow.  I remember in 2013 jumping up and down in my house when I found out an organization from Valparaiso University was going to give us $30,000 to start a new center in Kibera in a clean space.  We remodeled a building, bought sewing machines, tables, chairs, bookshelves, and more.  It was the miracle that we needed to continue.

 

Friends, WE NEED ANOTHER MIRACLE.

 

Over the past 2 years, I have felt more and more that as our organization has grown to include a kids program, a soccer team, a girls empowerment program, and additional artisans, that our little house in Kibera can no longer hold the 60+ people we serve every week.  We are busting at the seams and have no room for growth.

 

But more than that, GOD HAS GIVEN ME A BIGGER VISION.

 

When I spend time on the ground immersed in our programs, I see that our true purpose lies within the opportunity to educate a generation of young people in a new way.  So many Kenyan children are either sitting out of school completely due to lack of school fees, or they are stuck in an archaic system of learning that only values memorization.  In Kenya, if a child cannot memorize, he/she is likely to have less opportunity to go a good high school and achieve future dreams.  We at GORP, believe there is another way.

So here is the miracle we are asking for—

 

WE WANT TO START A SCHOOL.

 

Not just any school, but a school that provides hands on learning to children infused with literacy-rich curriculum where stories, art, and STEM activities are at the heart of everything.  We want to take the model we are using in our afterschool program and expand it on a larger scale to reach not just one class of children for a few hours, but a whole school for the whole day.  We want our school to be a training site where other teachers from around Kenya can come for professional development to learn these new teaching methods and take them back to their own schools to create change.  Kenya is currently piloting a new curriculum that is trying to bring change, but teachers haven’t been adequately trained, there is no model for them to see, and they lack resources to implement the ideas.  We want to step in and be a catalyst for change.  We want to show children that they are loved and valued in the Kingdom and are capable of doing big things, even though they come from disadvantaged backgrounds.

 

So what does this look like practically?

 

We want to buy land in a rural part of Kenya where there is more space and where children are underserved and move our entire operations and staff there.  The K-8 school would be constructed in phases and would continue to house our current programs.  Many of the children we currently serve do not have a safe environment to live and so they would be given the option to board at our new facility.  Boarding schools are very common in Kenya.  We have a handful of educators from the U.S. that are willing to come and train the teachers for our school.

 

Six weeks ago, I walked through the rural areas of Nanyuki, Kenya scoping out land for a possible site.  The area was breezy, and fertile, and had breathtaking views of Mt. Kenya.  The price of land, however, had me gasping for my breath.

 

Friends, in the past 6 years, I have walked through highs and lows on this journey.  There have been difficult challenges that have made me want to give up, and yet God gave me the faith to push forward.  Now, I’m staring at this giant task before us, and I’m overwhelmed.  The money we need to raise seems daunting and the logistics involved are complex.  But I’m excited too because I know this is a move that would bring true change and impact lives for generations to come.

 

So here’s the nitty gritty…we need $500,000 to buy land, build the school, dormitories, and housing for teacher trainers.

 

Yeah, you read that right, and it’s not a typo.  That’s a huge goal, and I’m overwhelmed by all the zeros tacked on the end of that number.  But I believe that we serve a big God. This will only be possible with your help.  Do you want to be involved in changing lives?  Are you able to donate a little or a lot to help make this a reality?  Do you have co-workers and friends who want to help? Does your job offer matching funds for donations?  Do you know a company who would want to help sponsor this project?  Are you able to go start a Facebook fundraiser benefitting Grain of Rice Project and to get your friends to do the same?

 

As always, we want to responsibly use any funds we’re given, so I’d expect with a project of this scope and magnitude, that you’d have questions.  I’d love to personally talk with you more and share details.  I’d be happy to sit down, show you our proposal, our architectural plans, and answer any questions.  Please pray and see how you might join us in changing lives across the globe in Kenya.  You can donate through our website via this link, or by writing a good ole fashioned check (message us for the address).  All donations are tax deductible.  Please don’t hesitate to contact us with questions or to arrange a time to talk.

 

I believe we are all little grains of rice that can add up and make a bigger difference.  I believe in miracles.  I believe this dream can become a reality.

 

Do you?

Leave a Comment

Share

A baby, a village, and hope

January 20, 2019 | 0 Comments

I’m back in Kenya– baby in tow.  I can actually say that I think flying internationally with a baby is easier than doing so while pregnant.  I wasn’t spending the whole flight watching my legs swell up but instead watching Ellis, which is much better.  Thirteen hours goes by a lot faster when you have…

Read More

A Tribute to Dinah

December 28, 2018 | 0 Comments

After a long battle with cancer, this week Grain of Rice Project lost our dear friend and supporter, Dinah Woelfel.  In our nearly 6 year journey as an organization, there have been a few behind the scenes people who’ve been instrumental in helping us move forward and grow the vision.  Dinah was one of those…

Read More

Simplicity and Advent

December 13, 2018 | 0 Comments

I can’t believe there’s only 12 days until Christmas.  Perhaps like many of you, I find this time of year a little overwhelming.  What I want in my heart is to be reflecting on the Advent season reminders of hope, joy, love, and peace, but instead everything just feels like a lot.   The lines at…

Read More

The Free Willy Club and Lemonade Stand Innocence

September 10, 2018 | 0 Comments

When I was in the fourth grade,  I helped start a Free Willy club.   As best as I can recollect,  during recess a group of friends and I wrote down our plans to raise money to save this whale.   If you’re a kid of the 90s you remember the Free Willy movie, and know what…

Read More

The Reality

April 30, 2018 | 0 Comments

I love iMessaging—it makes the world smaller and easily allows our team in Kenya to send me pictures when I’m not there.  It keeps us connected.  Usually the pictures I get are the happy type: smiling kids, videos of them reciting poetry, and beautiful photos of their artwork. But the ones I received this week…

Read More

Amazing Things

March 5, 2018 | 0 Comments

I know I’m supposed to write a lot when I’m in Kenya.  I know people like to hear about what’s happening–the good things, the funny stories.  And there a lot of those.  But in all honesty, sometimes once the end of the day has reached, I haven’t a morsel of energy left to spend on…

Read More

Parent Involvement

February 11, 2018 | 0 Comments

One thing I have learned on this Grain of Rice Project journey is that it is all about having faith, and being willing to take risks.  All of our programs, from the kids, to girls, to footballers, are exciting, but sometimes challenging, and always so much bigger than myself or anyone person.  Indeed it is…

Read More

The Start of 2018!

January 21, 2018 | 1 Comment

It’s been great to start off 2018 in Kenya with all of our Grain of Rice team.  I arrived in Kenya on January 2, and quickly jumped into all that is happening.  We began the first day with a New Years party for all of our artisans, children, footballers, and staff who are a daily…

Read More

Cultivating Beauty from the Dirt

November 9, 2017 | 0 Comments

It may be November, but this week, I’ve still been uprooting carrots and vegetables from my garden.  If you live in Northwest Indiana, you know that this is nothing short of a miracle.  Fall has pushed itself in, and as much as I wish I could be one of those people who walk around proclaiming…

Read More

Living in a Truck

October 25, 2017 | 2 Comments

I’ve been living in a box truck for a week. Yes, you read that correctly. My last week and half was dedicated to a big outdoor event selling for Grain of Rice Project, where most people camped in rather nice or at least decent RVs, while my friend and I spent 10 days living the…

Read More