“As far as I have reached is because I was raised up by a strong woman who always believed that nothing is impossible before God.” Sharon G., Ndoto student since 2012, reminisced about her mom. “At times we could go without food and she could still say, ‘God is the provider.’” Sharon would need that faith in the years to come.
Life for Sharon was pretty good when she was young. She grew up in Busia, at the border of Kenya and Uganda. Her dad died when she was six months old, leaving her mom to raise her and her three older brothers. She was a godly woman who also loved orphans and visited them often.
In 2009, however, that good life was shattered when her mom passed away from an illness while Sharon was in 7th grade. “I lost hope since my role model had passed away,” Sharon said, “and apart from that she was the bread winner and everything in my life. I not only lost a parent but a motivator, caretaker, and mentor.” Before she passed, Sharon’s mom told her that God was going to take care of her and provide help from people outside Kenya. Neither of them could have had any idea what that meant.
Sharon had nobody to pay her school fees for high school until a spiritual mentor that she knew offered to bring her to Kisumu and send her to a day school there. She enrolled, even though her mentor didn’t have steady employment and sometimes fees, food, and rent were a burden. Life in Kisumu had not turned out to be much easier, especially after that mentor turned out to be part of a divisive and troublesome group that the community eventually rose up against.
|Sharon, Ndoto student since 2012, is sponsored by Sue D. and Jenny W.|
She wanted to find a church and God led her to Prince of Peace in Obunga. She stood and introduced herself to the congregation on her first Sunday, and when they heard that she loved worshiping God, they asked her to sing. They were stunned when their visitor sang courageously before strangers to bless them, but Sharon’s blessing in return was yet to come.
After the service an Ndoto staff member told her about the sponsorship program and invited her to come and apply. “I never knew that the time for God to shine light into my darkest background had come,” Sharon said. “When I saw my name among the people who had been chosen, I could not believe my eyes. I went down to my knees and thanked God for remembering me.” Her mother’s cryptic prophecy about receiving help from a foreigner was not a mistake.
Like many Ndoto students, receiving her sponsorship was just the beginning of Sharon’s story. Without the constant burden of school fees, Sharon began to grow into her mother’s legacy. She joined the Ndoto students in serving the community, especially helping out the older widows. Her mom had taught her how to keep house and now she found that she loved washing, fetching water, and mopping homes for these older women.
|Maseno University’s Kisumu Campus is the tall building in the foreground|
When she graduated high school, Sharon was accepted to Maseno University’s Kisumu campus to pursue a Bachelors degree in Education and Information Technology. In college, she joined the Christian Union. “I decided to serve God because were it not for him I could not have reached the university,” she said. By the second term, she had been elected worship leader and hospitality director by her older peers. She began going to vocal training every Saturday to continue to improve.
After some time in school she met a classmate who is blind and could not read notes except with the use of a Braille machine. Denis is 40 years old, having started primary school as an adult. She made a commitment to be by his side anytime he needed help and now they are close friends. “He is funny and sometimes cracks jokes about his situation,” she said. Denis is very smart and the two help each other as they study together.
Sharon doesn’t just lend a physical helping hand; many of her friends at school consider her to be wise and they come to her with their problems. Wisdom is not just knowing the answers, but also knowing where to find the answers. “When the situation seems to be beyond my help I tell them to try some elderly people who have had a lot of experience.” At Sharon’s age, it’s easy to discount the wisdom of elders, but at 22, Sharon is not like many people her age.
University hasn’t always been an easy time for Sharon. She made a mistake that almost derailed her academic career. Last year she became pregnant and had to face the Ndoto staff. Pregnancy is not something that Ndoto takes lightly and is often a strike that causes students to lose their sponsorship. The organization is also gracious, however, and considers the entire situation. In her case, the Ndoto staff jointly agreed to allow her to remain as she carried the baby to term. Tragically, Sharon lost her baby 3 weeks after birth.
|Sharon at the college student retreat this June|
Despite facing this setback and grieving her loss, Sharon is quietly building her accomplishments. Although she doesn’t expect to graduate until December 2018, her resume is already impressive. In addition to serving the Christian Union, she was elected chairlady of their chapter of a multinational Kiswahili Club. She wrote, “I have been able to learn some leadership qualities, such as courage, obedience, time-keeping, and above all being God-fearing which is the key quality that every leader must portray.” As part of this club she has written plays and poems, and plans to write a book. Last semester she taught a grammar lesson, heard nationwide on Equator FM, and traveled to a rural school to teach an exam prep lesson.
“How I wish that one day my dream comes to pass, and I achieve all the goals I have always longed to achieve, so that I may help society just as Ndoto has done for me.” Sharon reveals her secret of success. “I manage my time and ensure that no time goes unused. This does not only mean that you take the whole time reading but also engaging in other constructive activities. I take a break singing or listening to music.”
Sharon always admired her mother and desired to do as she did. In this goal she is certainly succeeding, and she has many aspirations that make her future very bright.