Vipingo

KCPE Testing

Students prepare very hard for the KCPE Exam.

Students prepare very hard for the KCPE Exam.

The next three days are a very big deal for our students in Class 8 (eighth grade) at Crossroads Academy in Vipingo and New Life Academy in Bomani. In fact, Class 8 students across Kenya have a big week ahead of them.

Nov 1-Nov 3, Class 8 students in Kenya will sit for the KCPE Exam. This national exam is a comprehensive test of six subjects: Math, Science, Social Studies, Swahili, English, and Religious Education. The exam is graded out of a total of 500 possible points. It is intended to be very difficult. 400 and above is considered a very good score.

The KCPE exam functions as an end of primary school exam, but also a bit like the SAT or ACT here in the United States. A student's score on the exam can determine if they will be able to continue their education in high school, and what high schools they may be accepted into.

Needless to say, there can be a lot of pressure on the students to perform well in this exam. The students can become very nervous. They have prepared hard. Now they need calm minds to perform to the best of their abilities.

Would you join us in praying for these students over the next few days as they take this big step in their education?

Life Spring Rescue Center in Kenya

Fox River has had the privilege to partner with Manna Worldwide, our partner for international missions, and our missionaries in Kenya, Jim & Susie Horne, to open a rescue center on the property in Vipingo.

The first house was built last summer and in September of 2015 welcomed the first little ones that had no family to take care of them. Kenya is working to move away from orphanages to adoptions. In this phase of their change, they are only approving rescue centers that are meant to take children in during a crisis until the family situation is resolved or other family members can be located who are willing to take them in. Those who have no family that can take them, will grow up in the rescue center.

The rescue center is a family setting. The building is a home. We have a mama and an auntie who live there and have made commitments to raise these precious children. These ladies are amazing! The social worker is a sweet Christian man who loves the children and gives them a wonderful father figure.

In the 8 months since the doors opened, we have seen 8 children stay for a short time during a crisis and 7 children that are permanent placements. This picture is of the staff and the 7 children God has sent our way. 

Adults: Paul (social worker), Joy (administrator), Margaret (auntie) and Nancy (mamma)  Kids: Blessing (2 yrs), Moses (7 mo), Richard (15 mo), Miriam (2 yrs), Joel (8 mo), Nimshi (15 mo) and Victor (1 yr)

Adults: Paul (social worker), Joy (administrator), Margaret (auntie) and Nancy (mamma)

Kids: Blessing (2 yrs), Moses (7 mo), Richard (15 mo), Miriam (2 yrs), Joel (8 mo), Nimshi (15 mo) and Victor (1 yr)

Kitchen

Kitchen

Bedroom for mamma and babies.

Bedroom for mamma and babies.

Will you pray with us for this special ministry in Vipingo, Kenya?

Pray for Joshua

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Joshua and his family are in need of your prayers. He and his siblings just lost their father.

Joshua is a young man in Standard 8 (eighth grade) at Crossroads Academy in Vipingo. His father passed away last night after an illness that had placed him in the hospital.

Losing a parent is always very difficult, but there is an extra burden on Joshua.  As the oldest child, the responsibility to provide for his siblings will fall on him, even as he is working hard in his final year of primary school and preparing to begin high school next year.

Please join us in praying for Joshua, his mother, and his siblings. We're asking God to comfort their family, and provide the strength and support that Joshua will need to balance his studies and responsibilities to his family.

Graduation Day in Vipingo

Today was truly a day 9 years in the making. As we said earlier, our school began in 2007 with KG1-KG3 in 2007. Today we saw that very first KG3 class wear caps, gowns, and be commissioned for secondary school. Suffice it to say there were plenty of sniffles, less than dry eyes, and tissues among the people who love these kids and have watched them grow.

The graduates filed in, excited for what was to come. 

The graduates filed in, excited for what was to come. 

Parents and other famlily, teachers, and the Fox River team watched and participated in the ceremony, proud of what these kids have achieved.

Parents and other famlily, teachers, and the Fox River team watched and participated in the ceremony, proud of what these kids have achieved.

The graduation ceremony was similar in structure to what you expect from a graduation ceremony. The school girls choir began with a beautiful song about the great things the Lord has done, and the newly formed school dance troupe performed a dance as well. Several people addressed the graduating students and the crowd gathered, including Pastor Mark Roberts from Fox River, Pastor Jim Horne who oversees the school in Kenya, Jenna Horgan who serves as the school administrator, Teacher James, the Head Teacher, and Pastor John, who pastors the church that meets at the school. 

 

Teacher James speaking to the graduates, the teachers, and the families

Teacher James speaking to the graduates, the teachers, and the families

Pastor Mark addresses the students, with Teacher James interpreting for those Kenyans who don't understand English (or southern American accents). 

Pastor Mark addresses the students, with Teacher James interpreting for those Kenyans who don't understand English (or southern American accents). 

Each student was presented with their certificate of completion, and some gifts including a backpack and a Bible. The students with top marks in each of their six subjects and top overall average scores were also presented with awards. Teacher James explained to the families about the students' invitation to Valerye McMillan High School and the sponsorship to attend for free, to which there was great applause. God truly is continuing to do a great work in the lives of these students and their families. 

Part of the ceremony that we in America would not be familiar with was cutting and serving of bites of cake to the graduates on stage. This is found in Kenyan weddings, graduations and other ceremonies. The Fox River team got to line up and literally feed a small slice of cake to the graduates. It made for some laughs and some good photos!

 

Cutting the cake

Cutting the cake

Each student was fed a bite of cake, while fellow graduates looked on with giggles. Apparently this is all part of a Kenyan graduation ceremony! 

Each student was fed a bite of cake, while fellow graduates looked on with giggles. Apparently this is all part of a Kenyan graduation ceremony! 

After the ceremony, we lined up the graduates for some formal group and individual photos. We were able to bring a small, portable photo printer so each graduate got a framed graduation photo later that day. 

Crossroads Academy Vipingo Class of 2015

Crossroads Academy Vipingo Class of 2015

These individual photos turned out very well and the students were happy to received a framed copy later in the afternoon. 

These individual photos turned out very well and the students were happy to received a framed copy later in the afternoon. 

The team got to spend the rest of the afternoon at the school, talking to the graduates, playing with the younger students, and enjoying our last few hours together. Eventually, the time came for the ever difficult goodbyes. It is always hard to leave on our last day at either of our schools. We shared many hugs, letters and notes were passed, along with encouragements to study hard and follow the Lord. 

What transpired today is just one of many testaments to the incredible work God is doing in these kids lives. I (Jason) was able to speak individually to a few of the graduates and talk to them about their school and their education over the last 9 years. The difference that this school, funded by the generosity of those at Fox River who have partnered with us, has made in the lives of these students and their families is unmistakable. Many of the students came to know Jesus at this school. One student I spoke with, who was a Muslim when he entered the school, came to know Christ through one of the teachers who poured into his life on an individual basis. That student was baptized in 1st grade, took a new Christian name, and sees himself as a child of God. 

I know it can be hard to understand what takes place in a country you've never seen with your own eyes, in a culture you don't fully understand, for people you've never met. Please believe me when I say the impact that you, our partners in God's work in Kenya, is having a huge impact that has literally changed lives for eternity. 

Medical Team at Vipingo - Graduation day

When Fox River took the first trip over to see the schools in Bomani and Vipingo, we were so happy to meet the very first KG 3 classes. Now today we were so privileged to be there for their graduation from  Standard 8! They have grown up before our eyes, into these wonderful teenagers who will be starting a new chapter in their lives....high school. 

 

Following the graduation ceremony, the team was able to spend time with the children and the graduates. Some people made connections with children and really enjoyed a day of rest. On a normal medical trip our goal is to help as many people as we can so that doesn't leave time to take it all in and  make connections with the children. 

 

 

In the afternoon we had time to spend doing some health promotion teaching. Our goal is to leave here knowing we shared our skills and knowledge to help people improve their health and the community's health as well. 

 

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Jill and Cindy taught the teachers about first aid and CPR

 

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The time was well spent today, building relationships, teaching, and recognizing the graduates and teachers for a job well done.  

Tomorrow we will do our last medical clinic day in Bomani. We look forward to working with the children there.  

Fun Day with Vipingo Grads

The graduation team spent today with the graduates from Crossroads Academy in Vipingo. This is our very first graduating class. We began with KG1-KG3 back in 2007 and as they grew, so did the school. The school year here begins in January, and is comprised of 3 terms with 3 months on/1 month off. So, this class finished their Standard 8 year in November. After this, they took their national exam, the KCPE. They just recently got their exam scores back, and are getting ready to begin high school in February.

The gates of the high school

The gates of the high school

Each of our students will be invited to attend Vallary McMillan High School in Majaoni. We met the graduating class in Vipingo and headed to the high school from there for a tour of the facilities, since most of our students have never been there.

Some of our graduates, getting ready to enter Form 1 (freshmen year). They actually are excited, honest, but much like American teenagers, the also want to look cool. 

Some of our graduates, getting ready to enter Form 1 (freshmen year). They actually are excited, honest, but much like American teenagers, the also want to look cool. 

The students broke into groups and were led by upperclassmen from the high school. We got to see the classrooms, science labs, library, and the newly constructed girls' dormitories (the boys will be bussed in rather than live on campus). The high school students were very helpful, showing both the incoming students and the Fox River team where our kids would be studying in just a few weeks. The high school facilities are very impressive and will be an excellent place where these kids we've watched grow from Kindergarten can continue their education.

A few high school students led the incoming Form 1 students on their tour.

A few high school students led the incoming Form 1 students on their tour.

The girls' dormitory (still under construction)

The girls' dormitory (still under construction)

The high school has excellent facilities, including their large chapel that serves as a community church on Sundays. 

The high school has excellent facilities, including their large chapel that serves as a community church on Sundays. 

The high school has a small library with many books (with a larger library under construction), a computer lab, two science labs, and a beautiful campus the students can be proud of.

The high school has a small library with many books (with a larger library under construction), a computer lab, two science labs, and a beautiful campus the students can be proud of.

After the tour of the high school concluded, we loaded up our bus and vans and headed to City Mall in Nyali. If you are imagining that Kenya is nothing but mud huts and remote villages, you would be very surprised by this mall! It looks very much like a mall you would find in the US. Many of our kids had not been to a mall like this before, and enjoyed walking through the shops, riding the escalators (they thought this was hilarious) and the glass elevator up to the fourth floor and back down.

We had a unique and incredibly fun experience for lunch. Domino's not only accommodated our entire class and team, but they invited the kids and their group leaders to make their own pizzas. The Domino's staff were absolutely fantastic with the kids. They took their time to show them how to prep the dough, add the sauce, throw on toppings, and bake them in the pizza oven. They encouraged the kids and made sure they had a good time - and so did we!

Working hard making pizza. Well, mostly working hard. 

Working hard making pizza. Well, mostly working hard. 

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After we ate, the Domino's staff continued to impress us with a little show of their pizza dough throwing skills. You could tell these men and women enjoyed their work and loved having the kids work with them. One of our kids, Austin, said it best: "We have had a wonderful time!"

These guys were crazy talented and very entertaining. 

These guys were crazy talented and very entertaining. 

Our time at the mall concluded, we finished the day back at the school in Vipingo. Ben taught a short self-defense class, first to the girls and then to the boys. Meanwhile, we setup a photo booth and took some silly photos with the graduates.

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The significance of this graduation cannot be overstated. God has been working in the lives of these kids, most of whom have been at our school from the very beginning in 2007. This milestone not only represents a new stage for these kids, but for our schools as well. It is such a blessing to see these kids - now becoming young adults - move forward into the next stage of their education and their life. Please continue to lift up our mission, our schools, and our kids in prayer - especially this class that is taking their next step into adulthood!

Clinic Day 2 - Vipingo

Today the medical team spent the day seeing the children at Crossroads Academy in Vipingo. In addition to all of the KG and Standard classes, we were also able to see the new graduates! In addition, some of the staff at Crossroads came in for reading glasses.  

Today was quite hot, it was only 92 degrees but most thought it felt much hotter. One of the major focuses on medical trips is health promotion education. Today the team taught the kids about the importance of drinking plenty of water and the symptoms of dehydration. 

 

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Yvonne, who also joined our medical team last year, consults on many of our cases

Yvonne, who also joined our medical team last year, consults on many of our cases

Joseph joined us today, his third medical mission with us.  

Joseph joined us today, his third medical mission with us.  

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In addition to the conditions found yesterday, there was a higher prevalence of fungal skin infections noted today. 2 children with heart murmurs were identified and will be sent for further assessment with a specialist. Overall we found the children to be healthy, with about 55% reporting no illness. 

Again we were so happy to have our Kenyan team with us and got the opportunity to spend more time getting to know them. We know that without them we would not be able to accomplish half of what we do on the medical trips. Many of them we have had the opportunity to serve with in years past. 

 

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We had the best help in the pharmacy! They kept up with med dispensing and assisted with dosing. 

We had the best help in the pharmacy! They kept up with med dispensing and assisted with dosing. 

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Tomorrow we look forward to being able to be at the first graduation ceremony for our kids who began at Crossroads Academy as our first KG 3 class! They have worked so hard and now they will begin High School soon.  

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Ice Cream and Coloring

What could be better than ice cream and coloring? How about sharing God's truth using both? 

Today was our first day in the schools - Crossroads Academy in Vipingo in the morning and New Life Academy in Bomani in the afternoon. Denise had some administrative work to do (January is usually her work trip), so the team helped out where we could, and also led the kids in some activities in the meantime. 

One group went to work with the Kindergarten classes. In Kenya, there are three levels of Kindergarten: KG1, KG2, and KG3 with ages 3, 4, and 5, respectively. These young kids do not speak or understand English very well, but what they lack in communication skills, they more than make up for in smiles and love. The group working with the KG kids spent time coloring a picture with them in small groups. They used the pictures they were coloring and songs to talk to them about how much God loves them, working with their teachers to interpret.

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Meanwhile, another group worked with the kids in Standard 1 through Standard 8 (1st through 8th grade), teaching them about Jesus feeding the 5000. Ben explained to the kids that the ingredients in Jesus' miracle were 5 loaves of bread, 2 fish, and one boy's willingness to share his lunch. To illustrate that point, we used ingredients of cream, sugar, and vanilla (shaken up in ziploc bags of ice and rock salt) to make ice cream. The classes passed the bags around shaking and shaking the bags, having a lot of fun.

Who wants ice cream? 

Who wants ice cream? 

You've got to shake, shake, shake.... 

You've got to shake, shake, shake.... 

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We have a new addition on the campus of our school in Vipingo: Life Spring Children's Centre, which opened in August. This is a rescue center where babies who have been abandoned or are otherwise in need of a stable home are cared for full time. Right now, the center is home to three children, ranging from 2 to 18 months. The team was able to see the new center, meet these precious little ones, and meet the incredible care givers who give these little guys their love.

Life Spring Children's Centre

Life Spring Children's Centre

Sleeping peacefully in a loving, stable home

Sleeping peacefully in a loving, stable home

Hello there, little one! 

Hello there, little one! 

The Rescue Center sitting room and kitchen

The Rescue Center sitting room and kitchen

Finally, we were able to distribute some letters that sponsors have written to the kids. They LOVE getting letters. It really makes them feel cared for. Most of them (perhaps not the littlest littles yet, but all the others) understand that their school, uniforms, daily meals, and education are only possible because of their sponsors' generosity, so they are very thankful to hear from you! If you'd like to contact the child you're sponsoring, look on the back of their photo or email missions@foxriverchristian.org

The medical team had an excellent first clinic day as well! Another post detailing there work will soon follow. Thank you for following our journey with us. We can't wait to share what else God has in store for us here.