The entire community of Missions of Hope schools in the Mathare slums of Nairobi, Kenya, erupted into joyous celebrations recently when the results of the high school exit texts for the first graduating class of MoHI schools were announced, reported CMF missionary Keith Ham.
Keith, who has been there from the beginning of CMF’s partnership with MoHI, characterized that Monday as “the day we all have been waiting for.” Fifty-six high school students took the placement test, which determines their future educational pathways.
“We were hoping that these children, born in abject poverty, could rise about their circumstances and be lifted, through what they have learned of God and His grace, through education and nutrition, and through the many people who have been the hands and feet of God actively serving these children,” he said.
Twenty-four got the marks necessary to move ahead in Kenya’s university system, well beyond anything the community of Mathare has ever seen before. The MoHI student who got the highest result, Clyde, was even hoisted on the shoulders of the kids as they began a victory march into the village.
“Everyone in the village was celebrating,” said Keith. “They were hugging Mary Kamau and acknowledging that without her commitment, love and sacrifice, this day could not have happened. They were hugging each other and singing and dancing and carrying on. It was pure joy!
“It’s the first time that anyone from Mathare Village One has ever gotten such good marks and is entering university based on his marks and tests,” Keith added. “Of the 24 who did well and will move on, several are from Village One. When you know where they come from it provides a different perspective.”
And what are the prospects for the other 32 graduates who didn’t receive the necessary scores?
“Of the 32 remaining who didn’t make the top marks, several of them will enter university through what they call ‘parallel programs,’ meaning they can go to college but they just can’t access low-interest government loans. Others will attend polytechnic schools,” explained Keith.
”My expectations for college-bound kids from MoHI, considering where these kids are coming from, has been exactly this percentage, about 50%,” said Keith. “Entering college here is hard and they make it hard for many reasons. We’re excited to see where the total 56 land in the next few months — 24 in university with government grants and loans, others in community college, others in ploy-tech and still others will land a job.”
The results were a very sweet moment for Keith and Kathy Ham and the many others who have worked for years with Missions of Hope.
“It was one of those moments when everything just comes together,” he said. “For a moment you can see the big picture. For a moment, all of the work, effort, tears and especially prayers seem to culminate in something that makes absolute sense.”