Volume 7 Issue 1 https://hopechildrensfund.org/ Spring 2022
Our bus has arrived!
Our bus makes its first trip to Meru Town.
Can you imagine how complicated it must be to get 86 children to more than 20 different schools? How about medical appointments for 86? Would you like to shop for 86? Prepare a menu? How about cooking for 86 over a wood fire?
 
Life at the orphanage is obviously very different than our daily experiences. One major difference has been the lack of safe transportation. The home has had a tremendous need for transportation for a very long time. The few paved roads are clogged with pedestrians and full of speeding boda bodas (motorcycles), lorries (trucks), mutatus (minibuses) and private cars. Indeed, over the years two of our children have been killed on the main road. Our children often have to take mutatus to get to school and other appointments, and they are not the safest transport for young women.
 
Board member Kyle Spillane made it his mission to purchase a vehicle for the home. Kyle teamed with his former teacher Kevin Mann to launch a GoFundMe vehicle appeal campaign, and it was a great success -- surpassing the goal of raising $42,000.

The purchase could not have happened without the generosity of literally hundreds of donors. Instrumental in the fundraising efforts was the Rocky Point Rotary Club,
who reached out to Rotary Clubs all over Long Island. In addition to the Rocky Point Rotary Club, the following Rotary Clubs contributed to the fundraising efforts: Port Jefferson, Westhampton, Stony Brook, Riverhead, Patchogue, and Ronkonkoma. All clubs are members of Rotary District 7255 led by District Governor Mary Ellen Ellwood.
 
People's United Bank, the bank of Hope Children's Fund, waived all wire fees on all transactions to the orphanage, and the bank continues to be a great partner.

The children at the home had a real role in the paint job and logos for the new vehicle. In addition, the youth and staff are part of a “Name the Vehicle Contest.”

We’re surprised we did not hear the screams of joy here in the US!
News from the Home
HCF scholarship winners announced
scholarship 1
Robinson Kithinji (Kiirua Technical Institute), Dennis Maitethia (Kiriani Boys Secondary School), and Brittney Kinya (Maseno University), as well as the two young men pictured below, won scholarships to continue their studies.
The two scholarships are the Jane Makonde Scholarship, named for a beloved social worker at the home who passed, and The Paul E. Dobiecki Scholarship in honor of the architect of the Lt. Michael Murphy Foundation Navy Seal Museum.
 
The winners of the Paul E. Dobiecki Scholarship are Eric Mutea, Brittney Kinya, and Kelvin Kithinji. The winners of the Jane Makonde Scholarship are Dennis Maitethia and Robinson Kithinji.The students were chosen based on their scores on the Kenyan Secondary Comprehensive Examination and the Kenyan Primary Comprehensive Examination.

The KCSE and the KCPE are grueling multiple-day exams that determine the academic fate of all Kenyan school children. We wish all the winners the best of luck on their secondary and post-secondary educational journeys.
scholarship 2
Kelvin Kithinji is now attending Kenyatta University.
scholarship 3
Eric Mutea is in Abothuguchi Boys Secondary School.
Mark your calendars for our 2023 Gala!
News from the Board
A doctor who was, herself, reborn . . .
by Larry Hohler

The best gift Yvette and I ever received over the holidays was an email that arrived from Doreen Gatwiri in Kenya.

“Hello, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, as well. My Christmas was good. I have already settled in at the hospital in Maua (near Meru in Eastern Kenya). This is the third week of my residency. The training is going well and is a lot of work, but I am holding on. We have even night shifts, one per week. I am currently working with the pediatric and the newborn unit.”

We met Doreen when we opened the Hope Children’s Home in 2005. She was nine years old and recovering from malnutrition and abandonment. With regular meals, TLC, and the opportunity to attend school, she blossomed. Nine years later, Doreen was accepted in the Pre-Med program at Jomo Kenyatta University in Nairobi.

Financial help from a doctor in California enabled her to attend. Dr. Gatwiri was about to begin her
Dr. Gatwiri
residency in Ob/Gyn when the pandemic shut down her program. She was forced to sit out until late last year. For a time, Doreen was forced to sustain herself by selling chickens in a local market.

Life in Kenya is returning to normal, and Doreen began her residency just before Christmas. Dr. Gatwiri is not typical of the 86 orphans we now provide for, but her hard work and dedication are an inspiration to them all.
Education is the Key!

Helping to run an orphanage from 7,500 miles away is a daunting task. Co-Presidents Lawrence and Kevin work tirelessly along with the U.S. board of directors and the Kenyan board to provide the best possible support for the 86 children under our care.
 
The complexity of the operation can be almost overwhelming at times. All of the efforts are orchestrated by Veronica Kirima, the home's director. Without Veronica's steady and compassionate leadership, Hope Children's Fund would grind to a halt. Our U.S. board of directors offers its heartfelt thanks for Veronica's amazing efforts on behalf of the children.
 
The main focus of our efforts is and always will be the education of the children. We currently have 47 youth in primary school and 37 in secondary and post-secondary school. We have one adult, Dr. Doreen Gatwiri, doing her internship at Maua General Hospital. David Thuo, who has many physical challenges, is at the home awaiting a suitable training program. Our children attend 21 different educational institutions. Obviously, providing tuitions for the secondary and post-secondary youth, transportation, learning materials, and homework support can be a logistical nightmare at times.
 
Due to COVID, the educational calendar in Kenya has been dramatically affected. The current term will end on March 3. In March and April, youth across Kenya will take one of two national exams. The KCPE (Kenya Comprehensive Primary Examination) and the KCSE (Kenya Comprehensive Secondary Examination) are extremely high stakes exams that determine the educational futures of the test takers. These multi-day, multi-subject exams are extremely stressful and impactful. Only the test scores determine placement in secondary schools and post-secondary schools. Academic performance, e.g. grade point average, has no bearing in the Kenyan education system. The exams are an all-in high stakes pressure cooker. The stakes are so high that many youth repeat an entire year of school just to take the exam again.
 
This year we have a very high number of children taking the KCPE or the KCSE. We wish the following youth the best of luck on the KCPE: Kelvin Muriuki, Brian Gitonga, Ian Mugambi, Mark Murimi, Vincent Mwirigi, Anthony Mugambi, Geoffrey Murithi, Juliet Mwnedwa, Blessed Karani, and Jeff Muthethia.
 
We extend our best wishes for a good performance on the KCSE to the following: Lavender Atieno, Lavine Wanja, Kelvin Bundi, Angelina Masii, Gideon Kipkosgei, Brian Mutuma, and Boniface Thuranira.
 
The new academic trimester will begin on April 25. We will post the exam results and appropriate educational placements in the next e-newsletter.
 
One of the other daily challenges at the home is providing nutritious food to the 86 children and 12 staff members. In order to meet that need, H.C.F. owns some land and rents other tracts. The harvest is a very energy and labor intensive process. Hopefully we will harvest enough maize (corn) to provide a staple food for the season as well as a surplus for sale. Despite all of the collective efforts, we do not produce enough food to be self-sustainable. We will continue to work toward that lofty goal.
 
We are in need of mentors! What is a mentor? Our mentorship program provides an email relationship with a child at the home for a mere $1 per day. Questions? Call Aida Mann at 631-470-6351.
 
Many of our mentors have mentored children for more than ten years. Thank you! We currently have 17 children, 9 girls and 8 boys ages 5-20, in need of mentors. All the children are in primary school. Please note that due to the interruption of their education by extreme poverty or being an orphan, a Class 8 (8th grader) can be 20 years old.
 
If all this information seems exciting to you, we would like to offer you an opportunity to be part of our board. We are constantly searching for new creative positive individuals to join our board. Our current board consists of 11 hard-working souls. We can add three more. If you have even a flicker of an interest, please contact one of the board members to find out more. Our donor community is a relatively small cadre of roughly 650 caring people. Our donor average is $180.75, which is truly amazing. Thank you all for helping the children of Hope Children's Fund.
Hope Children's Fund is a 501 C (3) charitable non-profit organization.
All gifts are tax deductible.
EIN: 75-3065651
Please help us help the homeless with your tax-deductible donation. Make your check payable to: Hope Children's Fund, P.O. Box 387, Setauket, NY 11733
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News from the Heart
Setting an Example
for the Grandchildren
Hope Children's Fund is blessed to have a wonderful cohort of kind, caring donors. Each donor contributes in their own way. Some donors create their own unique project to assist the home. Michael Chlystun, former K-12 Social Studies supervisor at Smithtown Schools, created a special one off project to teach kindness and compassion to his grandchildren. The goal was to show that a donation can dramatically change the lives of others. Toward that end, Michael donated not one but two sets of goats to Hope Children's Fund. By donating both male and female goats, Michael hopes to create an ongoing benefit to the children.
 
The goats will add a number of important components to the diet of the children. Goat's milk is highly beneficial. It can be used for the children or for resale. When appropriate, goat meat is a highly nutritious addition to the diet of the youth. Lastly there are, of course, goat eggs. What?? No eggs -- just wanted to check to see if you were reading carefully!
 
Michael has indeed set a wonderful example for his grandchildren and to all of us. Every new idea and project adds something special. Creative fundraising ideas are always welcome. If you have an idea for a new project/fundraiser, please share it with a board member. Together as a community of donors we are changing children's lives . . . forever. 
Hope Children's Fund offers a hand up.The goal is to educate youth to become productive adults. HCF has no office or employees, making for minimal operating overhead. All donations go directly to serving the needs of the children at the home.

P.O. Box 387, Setauket, NY 11733

Lawrence Hohler, Co-President
631-473-1662 hohlerlj@aol.com

Kevin Mann, Co-President
Board of Directors
Larry Hohler
Co-President
(631) 473-1662
 
Kevin Mann
Co-President
(631) 470-6351
 
Peter Wunsch
Treasurer
(516) 817-3307
 
Yvette Hohler
Secretary
(631) 473-1662
 
Ed Hyshiver
(631) 664-0257
Aida Zavala Mann
(631) 470-6351
 
Tiffany Mann
(631) 260-0678
 
Vic DeSanctis
(631) 807-1394
 
Cari Faith Besserman
(631) 875-4238
 
Kyle Spillane
(631) 566-2700
 
Laura Spillane
(631) 804-5388