"I am very proud of my achievement."
— Kuya "Evans" Ateku, 35, a schoolteacher in Kenya’s Lake Victoria region, holding a photo of his sponsor, Kristen Albert of Lompoc, Calif.
When his son was born last year, schoolteacher Evans Ateku surprised some of his relatives by naming the baby Albert rather than a family name. But the Kenyan father could think of no better way to honor Kristen Albert, the California woman who sponsored him when he was a child in Compassion’s program. Now Evans is hoping to have a daughter.
"I know what my girl’s name will be. I will name her Kristen, my sponsor’s first name."
Before he knew the name Kristen Albert, a young Evans would watch his mother leave early each morning in search of food for their family of seven. Her desperate attempts, which often didn’t end until late at night, weren’t uncommon in his village.
"I remember that food was scarce," Evans says. "People fought for food."
Then, in 1987, Compassion staff learned of Evans’ situation and registered him as one of the first students at the Anglican Church of Kenya Maseno Child Development Center. Evans says he fondly remembers days when he would go to the center and see his friends and eat a meal. “My favorite dish was githeri [maize and beans]. I still remember how good it tasted."
When Evans received a financial gift from his sponsor Kristen, his family used it to buy a goat, which soon gave birth. Selling the baby goats allowed the family to buy a cow that proved more valuable than they could have imagined.
After the high-achieving student graduated from the Child Sponsorship Program in 1997, Evans was eager to go to college but doubted he could afford tuition. Then he remembered his sponsor’s gift. He sold the family cow and some of her calves to pay his tuition.
Evans went on to study math and chemistry, graduating with a Bachelor of Education degree. Experiencing the power of education firsthand motivated him to help all four of his siblings complete college. Their jobs now include government officer, forwarding agent, lab technician and accountant.
"I am grateful to God, first for allowing me to be alive, to have the strength to work hard," says Evans, who now serves the Anglican Church of Kenya by overseeing its spiritual and financial development. "And now, the beautiful wife and child He has given me."