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R2S Profile: Donna Rosenblum

IMG_3575This past July, Reason2Smile Board member Donna Rosenblum visited the Jambo JIpya Academy in Mtwapa, Kenya. This was Donna’s second trip to the school and she plans to return again during the summer of 2015. She stayed with the Jambo Jipya Director, Christine Mwende, spending time at the school and with orphan students at the Children home.  Here is an update of her trip:

It was wonderful getting back to Mtwapa after my visit the year before with my family. The children at the school seem very happy and are learning a great deal. It was exciting to see many faces that I recognized from the year before as well as how much they have grown. I spent time visiting the different classes and watching various types of instruction. It was clear to me that everyone (both student and teacher alike) works hard and was committed to the educational process. While the school and classrooms conditions at Jambo Jipya are nothing like what we have here in the United States; as a board member, supporter and child sponsor I am thrilled to see the impact Reason2Smile in making in their lives.  Children are children no matter where they live in the world but not all have the opportunity to receive the education and skills they will need for the future. There is definitely so much more that needs to be done (slow and steady wins the race) but together we are truly helping to make an important difference for these particular students.

While the school and classrooms conditions at Jambo Jipya are nothing like what we have here in the United States; as a board member, supporter and child sponsor I am thrilled to see the impact Reason2Smile in making in their lives.

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Along with time at the school I also got to spend time with the orphan students who live at the children’s home. We had lots of fun singing, dancing, playing games, drawing and just talking. The highlight for me was taking them to a nearby beach where we spent the day just enjoying the ocean, dodging the waves and digging in the sand.

I am looking forward to my upcoming trip this coming July and can’t wait to get back to see all that has happen since I have been gone.  Some people don’t seem to understand why I want to return but these trips reaffirm why I got involved in the first place. I have been blessed with many reasons 2 smile!

 

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R2S Profile: Clinton

Clinton attended Jambo Jipya School from tenth through twelfth grade when his single mother was no longer able to pay for his school fees at the public high school in the area.  Clinton always performed with top-notch grades and while his classmates could be found socializing, Clinton was almost always studying or working on homework.  His teachers always said that of everyone in his class, he had the best chance of going on to university after graduating from Jambo Jipya.

Reason2Smile board member and volunteer John DiGiacomo teaching Clinton how to properly tie his tie.

Reason2Smile board member and volunteer John DiGiacomo teaching Clinton how to properly tie his tie.

Clinton’s goal after high school is to become a professor of science at a university and he is well on his way!  Clinton scored the highest out of his class (the first class of graduating seniors from Jambo Jipya School) on the KCSE (Kenyan Certificate of Secondary Education) exams in November 2013.  His scores were then sent on to universities he applied to and he received an acceptance letter on August 14, 2014 from Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology in Kakamega, Kenya.  On September 1, 2014 he began his first year of university and became the first student from Jambo Jipya to be accepted into and attend undergraduate school.

On September 1, 2014 he began his first year of university and became the first student from Jambo Jipya to be accepted into and attend undergraduate school!

 

Very professional!

Very professional!

Due to Clinton’s family’s financial situation, he was offered tuition assistance through the Kenyan government.  The remainder of his university fees were paid by a generous donor through Reason2Smile, and he is well into his first semester!  Clinton shared, “I am so grateful to Jambo Jipya School for giving me a good education during high school and for my Reason2Smile sponsor for giving me the opportunity to attend university.  I plan to make you all proud and work my very hardest!  I am so honored to have this opportunity!”

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R2S Profile: Aura

Aura is always on the go!  Here she is climbing the wall of one of the classrooms at Jambo Jipya.

Aura is always on the go! Here she is climbing the wall of one of the classrooms at Jambo Jipya.

Aura is five years old and she just finished the third level of Kindergarten at Jambo Jipya School (the first two levels are our equivalent of nursery and pre-school). Aura lives with her mother, father, younger sister, and two older half-brothers. Aura’s mother makes clothes to sell to try to make a living and support her children.  Aura’s father is physically abusive to her mother and treats the children very poorly as well, so Aura’s home environment is not a very happy one.  Aura and her siblings attend Jambo Jipya Primary School during the day.  The school supports them with food, clothing, healthcare, and an education because their mother is really struggling to care for them and their father doesn’t seem to care about them at all.  Aura just started school in 2012.  She is a very bright little girl, in and out of class.

Aura is a very bright little girl, in and out of class.

Aura and her siblings ride home from school on a motorbike everyday.  Aura sits in front of the driver so he can keep an eye on her!

Aura and her siblings ride home from school on a motorbike everyday. Aura sits in front of the driver so he can keep an eye on her!

Most five-year-old children are active but Aura is an extreme case.  If the classroom door or school door is left open, she will sprint out it.  If her teacher turns her back for one minute, Aura is literally climbing the walls.  Aura’s poor teacher goes home absolutely exhausted every day.  As much work as Aura is, she is also a very sweet and happy child.  She is quick to smile and laugh.  The director of Jambo Jipya looks forward to watching her continue to grow and mature and will gladly welcome Aura and her family back to school when it starts again in January!