Monthly Archives

October 2022

Aaditya & Navyaansh

By Project Stories

Doing it differently.

We were in humid Northern India outside Delhi, sitting in Anuja’s cool air conditioned office. Anuja is the principal of Mt. Sinai School, an amazing school The Hope Venture partners with that provides free tuition to 25% of the students who come from impoverished backgrounds, and is sustained by 75% of students who pay for tuition and come from middle and upper class backgrounds.

We were discussing with Anjua and her husband, Deepak, if there was a student who had received free tuition we could chat with about their story. Anuja and Deepak liked the idea and had a student in mind they knew well, but were adamant that he shouldn’t feel different or singled out because he was part of the 25% group. They said that no students know who is paying and who is paid for, and even a student who is paid for might not know that themselves; a value Anuja and Deepak held strongly. We decided we would interview two students: one paying, one paid for. It was a conversation that mattered, and I respected Anuja and Deepak for the call they made. To its core, Mt. Sinai cares about its students and wants everyone to have the same, equal chance at success, no matter their background.

We pulled two boys from class to interview them: Aaditya, yellow shirt, 6th grader, receiving free tuition, and Navyaansh, blue shirt, 7th grader, paying tuition fees. Aaditya was a bit quieter, but had an old soul. Navyaansh was more of a talker and had a subtle confidence to him. They were friends and played on rival soccer teams at recess, which brought smiles and proud claims when asked whose team was better.

What got Aaditya coming to Mt. Sinai was his father’s big desire for him to receive an education from a school that taught English so well. Aaditya was admitted to Mt. Sinai, but in 2019, his father tragically passed away from brain cancer. This happened shortly before COVID-19 hit, and with Aaditya’s mom working full-time and unable to watch Aaditya and his sister, Aaditya stopped attending online classes once COVID-19 was in full swing and got into a bad friend group with older teenage boys.

Anuja took note of this and was concerned about Aaditya, so she reached out to his mom and invited her to come to her office and chat about what they could do for him. Aaditya’s mom was afraid that Mt. Sinai was going to kick him out of school due to his lack of attendance and her lack of ability to keep paying tuition, but Anuja remembered how badly Aaditya’s father wanted him to study there. Anuja offered to give Aaditya free tuition, a huge financial burden lifted off his mother and a way for him to be in a safe, productive place during the day and not out getting into trouble with his friends.

Aaditya returned to the school and was taken under the wing of Anuja and Deepak’s son, whose name is also Aaditya (Aady for short), and is the dean of Mt. Sinai. Aady really worked with Aaditya to get him back on track and succeed not only in school, but in life. Mt. Sinai’s motto is “building global leaders for tomorrow,” and focuses on the four pillars of mental, social, physical, and spiritual development. Mt. Sinai pours into its students at a relational level, and Aady mentoring Aaditya was a perfect example of that.

As for Navyaansh, he started coming to Mt. Sinai because it’s a Christain school, and Christian schools in India put a strong emphasis on teaching English, which was important to him and his parents.

Both boys’ faces lit up when they talked about how much they loved Mt. Sinai and the teachers there. They said that students can call their teachers Mon-Sat anytime before 10pm to get help with homework. I learned that in India it’s sooo common for students to be hit or verbally berated by teachers during class, but Mt. Sinai has a specific “no touch” policy and always builds up their students. Mt. Sinai does things differently, and it’s building a strong foundation in their students to pursue their big dreams and believe they can achieve anything; inspiration we all need in this world.

Both Aaditya and Navyaansh want to be part of the Indian Police Services when they grow up. They value protecting their loved ones and the community at large, and I believe in their capability just as much as their school does.

To impact more students like Aaditya & Navyaansh, donate to Mt. Sinai School today!



By Uncategorized

A blessing in Mathare.

I was sitting at a coffee shop with a friend, days before I flew out to travel overseas with The Hope Venture, sharing what I was excited about and what I was anticipating. I told her I was nervous about the hard stories I was going to hear throughout our travels. You see, I was going to be on a team of four women visiting The Hope Venture’s projects, and my job was to interview people who had been impacted by the projects and document their stories. It was a dream role for me, but also one that I was preparing to be hard on my heart.

Sitting at the table, my friend listened intently and then responded. “Carli, my prayer for you is that the people you meet and the stories you hear would actually be healing for you, instead of hurtful to your heart.”

My jaw dropped. It was profound, opposite of how I was thinking, and such a picture of the hope we try to bring as an organization. Not only that, but it was also a bigger picture of the hope found in Jesus. It was the idea that people are not stuck in their circumstances, bound by a dead end, with their identity cemented as a hard, heavy story. But instead, that there is hope and light and opportunity… there is healing ahead. I loved her response. I tucked it away in my heart and went overseas.

Fast forward a few weeks and I was in Mathare, Kenya, the second-largest slum in the country, located in the capital city. We were visiting one of our student sponsorship projects there, and I was with a group on our way to one of the students’ houses to interview her. Her name was Yvonne, and she could light up a room with her eyes and smile. Yvonne stood out to me and I was excited to get to know her more.

It was about a 40 minute walk through Mathare to get to her house, filled with climbing steep hills, shimmying down narrow passageways, and rounding unexpected corners. Finally, we climbed our last hill and got to Yvonne’s house, positioned so high up you could look out and see the community of Mathare as a whole.

We entered the small house behind us, and her grandma was there welcoming us with chai tea and open arms. I sat shoulder-to-shoulder with Yvonne on the loveseat, and the others crowded into the room and onto the remaining furniture.

Yvonne was 16, the second of five kids, and had lived with her loving, wise grandmother since she was young, along with the rest of her siblings. Her parents weren’t in the picture, and when I asked if she wanted to talk about it, she shook her head no.

I asked Yvonne what life was like before she got sponsored. “Life was challenging,” she replied in her beautiful Kenyan accent. Yvonne’s grandma didn’t work, and therefore couldn’t provide the necessary fees for school. Yvonne spent most of her time at home, and would have to play catch-up whenever she did return to school… a tough cycle that’s not very conducive to learning.

She remembered Fanuel, The Hope Venture’s trusted local partner, calling her and some of the other students to the church on just a normal day—but didn’t tell them why. When they got there, Fanuel told them that they had all been sponsored by The Hope Venture, and she said to me, “I was so, so happy.” Sweet tears filled her eyes as she shared the story. It’s a big deal to be sponsored and the burden of school fees to be lifted.

I asked her what her dreams were now that she was sponsored, and she said after she finishes school, she’d like to go to university to study accounting AND law. She dreams of taking her family to another level and wants to build them a mansion one day, with dark purple walls and red flowers outside.

We were needing to wrap up our conversation and I asked if there was anything else she wanted to say about her story that would make her feel known. She responded, “I would just like to say thank you, because you’ve proven to me that I can achieve my dreams, impact the community at large and also change other children from families like mine. There’s light at the end of the tunnel. Just because you come from a poor family doesn’t mean you can’t achieve your dreams.”

Wow. Suddenly I was the one with tears in my eyes. She was right, and I felt like my heart had just been blessed by her. The conversation with my friend at the coffee shop rushed to the forefront of my mind: “Carli, my prayer for you is that the people you meet and the stories you hear would actually be healing for you, instead of hurtful to your heart.” I felt like Yvonne was an answer to that prayer. Here she was, in one of the largest slums in Kenya, in poverty, and yet was living in a house on a hill overlooking that slum, with dreams for a big career, getting her family out, and helping other people like her. She wasn’t stuck, she was on the move. It was such a picture of hope and healing, and it spilled out from her and impacted me. Beautiful.

To impact more students like Yvonne, donate to our Student Sponsorship Project today!



By Project Stories

A Fulfilling Job—Filling Tummies, Minds, and Hearts.

Ambrose spends his days surrounded by young kids buzzing with explosive energy and unmeasurable joy. The excitement is contagious among all of the kids as they flood into the school building, ready for the day ahead. These kids are in primary school at Christian Eminent Academy in Narok, Kenya. The school was started by our partner, Nasha Ministries, in 2010. And now, Ambrose is employed as the administrator in the school.

While these kids come streaming into the school with big smiles and eager eyes, many of them are also stepping into the building with empty, hungry tummies. This has been a persistent problem for the students in the primary school ever since it opened. Most of the time, kids in Narok drop out of school right after or before finishing primary school because families in this area simply cannot afford to send their kids to school because of the school fees. The average income levels for families in Narok are very low. Someone might make $1-2 per day, and they often can only work two or three times each week because the jobs are often things like farming, washing clothes, driving a motorbike, or some sort of masonry or construction work. These jobs are inconsistent and may not always be available for people trying to work. Even with both parents working as much as they can, the income is way too low to fully support a family. So with this level of income, families have to choose if they are going to pay school fees or if they are going to feed the family. Christian Eminent Academy recognized this issue and wanted kids to be able to come to school AND get at least one meal each day, so they started a feeding program.

However, the school was struggling financially with this initiative. They weren’t getting enough fees paid by the students, and the cost of feeding every student each day wasn’t sustainable for the school. Food costs were rising, and along with all of this, there were still other financial needs that had to be met for the school, like teacher salaries.

To keep educating, transforming hearts, and empowering the poor and vulnerable students at Christian Eminent Academy was a huge goal that wasn’t going to be compromised.

A plan was created to supply nutritious food to the students through the means of small-scale agriculture right by the school. The farms grow corn, peas, beans, tomatoes, onions, cabbage, kale, spinach, and grass. The goal of the farm is to grow food for the students to eat, while also making enough money to sustain the farm itself and keep it going. On top of just sustaining itself, the farm is designed to generate income for the school, which can be used for other needs to keep the school functioning, taking a huge load off of Ambrose as he manages the school. A lot of the crop is harvested and sold—an investment in the future to keep this project going for years to come.

Ambrose has been able to see this project in its beginnings and he has been able to see its gradual progress in working toward achieving its goal. And in turn, Ambrose is able to see the kids at school be filled—physically with food, practically with knowledge in classes, emotionally with happiness, and spiritually with faith. While all of this is happening in the lives of the kids, the farm is producing crops to be sold so that the school can keep functioning and impact even more students.

Ambrose also gets filled by seeing the kids getting their needs met. With the assurance of at least one meal each day, the kids are healthier and happier, and they can focus more attention on schoolwork than before. Then, if they continue in their schooling, Ambrose gets the joy of knowing the kids will have more opportunities later in life because of their education. He takes so much joy in seeing these kids succeed.

He doesn’t just stop at watching the kids now but does all he can to make sure they continue to get the support they need to be successful in the future too.

His heart extends to each student as he greets them as they walk into the building, and he smiles, knowing his role as school administrator provides a safe space for them to come to school and be excited to eat, excited to learn each day, and launching them into a future of hope.

To impact more students at Christian Eminent Academy, donate to our Kenya Agriculture Project today!