Sunday, March 2, 2014

Disappointment and hope

Disappointment filled her eyes.  Cindy Ikai had scored well on her eighth grade test.  She was so excited about her high score that she called me in Nairobi to make sure I knew.  She had been going back to her primary school every day to see if her high school calling letter had come.  We were expecting that she would get called to a national school.  These are the better schools, but they also tend to cost more money.

She was hoping to get called to the Turkana Girls' National School.  It was her dream!  It is the best girls' school in all of Turkana.  Instead she got called to a new school in Lodwar that did not have boarding facilities.  Most high schools in Kenya are boarding schools.  They provide structure, lights and three meals a day so that the students can learn better than they might at home.  I knew it was bad news as soon as I saw her walking into my gate.  Her head was down, her steps were slow and the disappointment was clearly visible in her eyes.

Cindy was the first student I sponsored to a local private elementary school.  I sponsored her to that school because I found the local schools had close to 100 children in a class and often a teacher that taught several classes at once.  Consequently two of her three older sisters were unable to read and they were already in the fifth and sixth grades.  At least at the private school there were only 40 - 60 students in a class and every class had a teacher.  When she entered first grade, I decided to see if I couldn't help her have a brighter future.

I was also very disappointing for Cindy.  It wasn't a school she chose, so we tried to see if other schools would take her instead.  They were all full.  We managed to get her on the waiting list for three girls' high schools in Turkana.  It meant that she had to wait until all the other students had reported and then find out if any did not show up so she could have their place.  We went and visited Turkana Girls' National School to try and get her on the top of the list.  There were a couple girls who had scored higher than her on the waiting list, but it was a good possibility.  There was hope she could still go to her dream school.  Even so, we wanted to make sure she got in somewhere, so her father visited two other schools to try to plead her case and get her on their waiting lists.

The week came for the other students to report.  We called Turkana Girls.  All the girls had reported so there were no openings for Cindy.  Another school was also full.  She was told to come to the third school, Katoboi Girls' High School.  Hope sparkled in the static of that telephone call.  In order to come, she had to bring a desk so that she would have a place to sit.  The headmaster at the school has a very kind heart and allowed her and a few other girls to come even though the school was really over capacity.  It took a bit of time to get all the requirements together.  Cindy would have to work hard to catch up with the other girls.  She had missed almost two weeks of classes.  She had a chance though and she had hope!

Katoboi Girls' High School

The school is off the main roads.  She had more than a trunk and mattress that needed to get to the school.  Transport was hard to find.  I ended up taking her and her parents to the school.  Paulina, her mom, wanted to see where she would be staying.  Cindy's older sister Willamina is a junior at this same school and Paulina had never seen the school.  So, she wanted to go if she could.  One Sunday afternoon we piled in my truck and made the two hour drive to the school.  The good news is that the school is close to Lake Turkana.  Williamina says the girls have some free time every Saturday and they can go swim in the lake.

When we got there, I spoke with the headmaster.  The school was really full.  He didn't want to turn a student with such a high score away from school.  Plus, he knew her older sister and she was a good student and a prefect.  He wanted to give Cindy a chance.  We found out that the dormitory is also very full.  There are not enough beds for all the new girls.  So, Cindy will sleep on her mattress on the floor in the same area where Willamina has her bed.  Even so, she is happy to have the chance to go to school!  The Headmaster is working on finding more bunk beds.

Happy Cindy at her High School
So, the story was closed and I was happy to have her in a good school!  The Lord had turned a disappointment into a hope.  Then, last night her Dad brought me a letter that he had just been given.  It was a calling letter from Turkana Girls' National High School for Cindy.  Someone had pled her case to a senator.  I don't know who it was, but the Senator got the school to send her a calling letter three weeks after they had told her there was no place for her.  At this point, she doesn't know about this letter.  It isn't easy to pull her from one school and send her to another.  School fees would not be refunded, uniforms would be different, the requirements would be different as well.  The Headmaster at her current school was so nice and wanted to give her a chance even though there wasn't really room.  And yet, a senator had spoken for her and gotten her a place, but it was late.

Could you pray for Cindy?  Pray for her to have wisdom in deciding what to do about this new letter.  Remember this was her dream school!  She may not know about it until the end of March when she comes home at the end of the first term.  She could switch schools at that time, although it would mean extra expenses to get new uniforms and other requirements.  It would mean having to make new friends and catch up again in classes.  We aren't sure if Turkana Girls' will let her come if she doesn't come right now.  That would have to be determined.  It is possible that she could finish this first year at Katoboi Girls and try to transfer to Turkana Girls' starting next year.  We don't know if they will allow that.  It is a hard choice and I don't know enough about the system here to give her advice.  So pray for her, for me and for those we might seek to give us advice!


  1. Kathy Hammonds3/3/14, 6:23 AM

    Wonderful story. We will continue to pray for Cindy, you and others who will advise Cindy. Thank you for helping her to pursue her dream!

  2. It is not much, but I have sent ten dollars marked "for Cindy Akai's schooling" using the link below... If just 30 more of you would do the same... it will cover Cindy's added tuition expenses to attend the school of her dreams! Please give!

    1. Thanks so much! I will pass on the challenge.

  3. betty pottenger3/4/14, 3:01 AM

    I will pray also lynn for cindy it is really great to see what you are doing
    love your cousin dolly

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Thanks Dolly! Love you too!