Can you spare some cash to sponsor a child through school?

As elsewhere in the world, an education is crucial to a Kenyan’s prospects in life. There’s lots of competition for limited poorly-paid work, and education opens up new opportunities as well as making a more-rounded individual. Most Kenyan youngsters are keen to learn, but education is not free – although Primary Education in state schools is ostensibly free, it’s only the tuition that is free and students need to pay for uniform, exam fees, books and miscellaneous fees. Even then, the government schools have huge class sizes and thus limited opportunity to do well (the teachers do their best, but we’ve heard of classes up to 100 children).

So many families, scraping by at (or below) subsistence level, cannot afford to send their children to school, certainly not to the school of their choice. This obviously includes families infected/affected by HIV/AIDS, for whom life is a real struggle, but there are many other families who work hard but cannot pay fees for school or college.

There are several organisations around who organise sponsorship of children and young people, but I can tell you about a few that we’ve had direct contact with during our trip.

As a general rule, these organisations prefer sponsors to commit to see a child through their education, so sponsoring a child just starting school could be a long-term undertaking, but shorter term arrangements or one-off donations are also possible. If you sponsor a young child you’ll get feedback from the organisation on their progress; sponsor an older child to high school or college and you will probably get direct feedback from the individual (Kenyans love Facebook!).

How much it costs depends very much on the “package”: paying uniform / books / exams for a child at a government primary school will likely be less than paying the same plus fees at a private school. School fees vary depending on the school, as do college fees, and transport may be required as well (or accommodation at/near school).

Imelda is here giving her time and energy directly educating Class 4 pupils at Barnabas; for the rest of us who can’t do that, sponsorship is a real way to help a child.

So here are my options for you to consider:

  • Barnabas Children’s Center is the school in which Imelda is currently working. 90% of the children cannot pay fees and are educated for free. The school is run on a shoestring with money from donors around the world, and they also provide a home for 29 orphans and street kids. They need every penny we can give them, either to develop the school or to sponsor individual needy children.


  • Community Light Programme, run by Edu and others here in Shanzu with support from overseas, aims to help families affected by HIV/AIDS and have an established process for placing children in schools and supporting them. I’ve seen this in practice with school reports being collected, scanned and e-mailed to the sponsors. Some of the children are at Barnabas and Fumathoka, the schools Imelda has volunteered at, others at schools around Mtwapa which I visited with Edu.


  • Okoa Jahazi, run by Eunice and her committee, are similar to CLP but the Community Based Organisation is composed of people infected/affected by HIV/AIDS helping others in the same situation; they are based in Kiembeni, a few miles away. They too arrange sponsorship for children. Read Eunice’s Story to see what drives her and why she needs your help. She really is an amazing lady.


  • As I mentioned, I’ve had a number of requests for direct sponsorship of individuals hoping to go to High School or College. These don’t fall under the HIV/AIDS umbrella of Community Light Programme or Okoa Jahazi, and are too old for Barnabas, but their needs are no less real. I’m hoping to get these youngsters to write about themselves, their aspirations and their needs so that they can seek sponsorship.

So there it is – there are hundreds or thousands of children here who need your help. You can’t help them all, but maybe you can support one and make a real difference to their life prospects. Do ask if you have any questions.

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