We first learned about the Diocese of Katakwa and Amagoro Junior Academy several years ago, when we heard that there was a Christian school in a remote area of Kenya with some pressing needs. Katakwa Province is a rural area in northwest Kenya, close to that country’s border with Uganda. Amagoro Junior Academy is a K-8 school, located in Amagoro, a village within the Diocese of Katakwa. When we learned a little more about where the school was and what the problems were, some of us felt moved to help in any way we could, and began the effort to do so.
As we learned more about the school, we also learned that four-year-old to fourteen-year-old children were being taught in old, wooden classrooms that had been condemned by the Kenyan government, which was pressuring the Diocese to pull them down. Although those children were thousands of miles away, on a different continent, we kept those children and that community in our hearts and prayers, and so the Kenya Project came into being at the beginning of last year. The people and the school became more than just names and places on a map, when the Bishop of the Diocese, Bishop Zakayo Epusi (or Bishop Zak, as he asks his friends to call him) came to visit in February 2015. We saw the pictures; we heard the needs, and we acted, together.
We asked ourselves the question: what if those youngsters were able learn in a solid, brick-built, enclosed classroom, instead of a rickety wooden structure that was open to the elements; the wind, the dust, the noise? We learned that a total of four classrooms were needed; each one costing $3,500. Father Pierre-Henry asked the parish the question: could our church maybe finance the building of one of them? And could we do it by Christmas of 2015?
In May, the Outreach Commission approved a commitment of $1,000. But there was a burning desire to do more. A small group of parishioners formed a subcommittee, to see whether we could make that first classroom a reality. The school in Kenya had what it needed to keep going: the desire, the teachers and the Christian education. Our determination was to help give them the first step toward a brick-and-mortar structure to help it happen. We did it, and more.
The additional $2,500 for the first classroom came from the effort and prayer of the congregation of St. Luke’s. Then, amazingly, an anonymous donor from within the congregation offered to match individual contributions, dollar for dollar, toward a second classroom.
By the time Bishop Zak visited us again in March of 2016, we had raised and sent enough money to build not one but two classrooms, and we were on the way to completing the funding of a third. This congregation had every reason to be proud of that achievement. But by now we had an even more magnificent goal in view; financing the building of all four classrooms.
We are overjoyed to make known the fact that St. Luke’s congregation, after another commitment of $1,000 from the Outreach Commission for 2016, has now raised the amount of $14,000 to complete all four brick-and-mortar classrooms for Amagoro Junior Academy.
Our goal, a year ago, was to raise enough money for one classroom, in the knowledge that we would be creating an environment that will give young people on a far-away continent a better start in life. By the grace of God and the generosity of St. Luke’s parishioners, what began as one has now become four. We have seen, in the space of a year, a modern analogue of loaves and fishes. We see the achievement with a sense of pride, yes; but more with a feeling of wonder and awe at God’s power.
We may never meet these children, except through the photos that Bishop Zak will send, and which we will share through this site. But these are not only children of Christ; in a sense they are now also children of ours. We give thanks to God for enabling us as a parish to help them start on a successful life path.
Our thanks go to everyone in the parish of St. Luke’s Prescott. Thank you for your generosity, and for responding to a genuine need with genuine kindness. There are still other needs we are aware of, which we will address and make known in time, but for now, we are happy and proud. We will share pictures from Bishop Zak on this site as they become available. And you are, of course, still welcome to make a tax-deductible gift to future endeavors, in the form of a check payable to St. Luke’s with “Kenya Project” in the bottom left corner.
Sincerely, The Kenya Project
(St. Luke’s members Charlotte and Dwight Willman, Bob and Laura Norman)