Irene receives health screenings, attends skill classes and is able to eat healthy meals. That was not always the case before her mother registered her with Compassion.
Sponsorship is the best thing that has happened to 11-year-old Irene. Irene lives in Osupukiai, Kenya, with her mother and siblings. Her life has become a beacon of hope for her family.
The first thing Irene does before getting ready to go to the child development center is pray for the day's activities: Compassion, her teachers, her mother, the child development center workers and her sponsor. At only 11, Irene knows what it means to trust in God.
"Every time I hear my daughter pray, I am happy because I know that God will always guide her to the right path in life," said Irene's mother.
Just a few years ago, Irene's family of six used to share a shelter with their livestock. Her mother watched helplessly as her children suffered from the cold. As poverty becomes unbearable, many parents consider marrying off their daughters to get some livestock for dowry. In the Maasai culture, marrying off young girls is the norm. But Kingasunye, Irene's mother, kept hoping for a miracle.
It was at the Shankoe Methodist Child Development Center that Irene's hope was restored. When the program opened, Irene was blessed to get the opportunity to be sponsored.
Irene is at the center by 8:00 a.m. She drinks tea and runs to morning devotions.
Saturday is an exciting day. The $38 a month of support she receives allows her to have health screenings, play games, attend skill classes and have breakfast and lunch. Most importantly, Irene and other sponsored children go through a Bible study lesson to equip them to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Every Saturday, the children eat well-balanced meals for both breakfast and lunch. Sadly for many, this is the only day on which they are able to eat to their satisfaction. However, Compassion provides periodic food supplements to Irene's family in order to ensure that the girl remains in school.
In the center and at home, Irene is known to be humorous; she loves to sing and laugh. She also likes to tell the Bible stories she has learned at Sunday school. Her favorite story is that of Jonah and the fish.
"Irene exhibits a devoted Christian life according to the Word of God," said Kingasunye.
On a normal school day, Irene wakes up at 6 a.m., takes a shower, brushes her teeth and dresses for school. She has learned personal hygiene through the center. The sponsorship program provides Irene with a school uniform, a pair of shoes and socks, books, a bag and other school supplies that may be required. Irene hopes to become an accountant in order to be able to manage resources well.
It takes Irene approximately 25 minutes to get to Osupukiai Primary School where she is in fifth grade. Irene studies five subjects: mathematics, English, Kiswahili, science and social studies. In between classes, there are several breaks for play, relaxation and lunch. Irene goes home for lunch at 1 o'clock to find a delicious meal of corn cake served with vegetables.
At exactly 2:00 in the afternoon Irene is back at school for the afternoon classes, which end at 4:00. By 5 p.m. Irene is home to help her mother with household chores, and by 7 p.m. Irene has eaten supper and is at the study table doing her homework. Before 9 p.m. the family meets for the evening prayers and Irene retires to bed.
Irene's new house is large enough for her entire family of three brothers, two sisters and their mother. The family gift Irene received from her sponsor helped them construct a new and spacious house roofed with iron sheets and filled with good chairs, tables and cushions inside.
According to Irene, the center has become a place of hope, blessings and the voice of God to her. The teachers are like parents, always there to care for the children.
Irene is extremely thankful for her sponsor as she states, "I love you. I like the letters, photos and gifts you sent me. I want to show you my cattle and my new house. I would like to hug you and walk together on top of our beautiful Maasai hills."
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