It’s early morning and 10-year-old Suyianga wakes up tired. He did not get enough rest due to the small space he has to sleep in.
His tiny mud house is supported by crooked wooden sticks and is home to his parents and five siblings. The house stands alone on a small mound of earth located between patches of sagging maize plantations. There is only one bed, which takes up most of the space and leaves just enough room for the door to open wide.
Suyianga’s parents are casual laborers. They move from one farm to another looking for work. On a good day, each of them earns about 100 Kenya shillings. But those days are few and far between, making it dificult to clothe the children, silence rumbling stomachs and keep a roof over the family.
The rains have not helped agriculture much during the last couple of seasons, which makes it even harder to make ends meet.
With these challenges, Suyianga’s parents could not maintain rent on a house for Ksh. 300 a month (approximately $3.60 USD). His mother, Janet, tells us,
“We would come home to find our house locked. Sometimes we slept outside or looked for shelter from well-wishers.”
Janet pleaded with the landlord, which brought only temporary reprieve. He would give them grace periods to settle their debts, but in the end he was forced to lock them out for good.
In this community where the size of land, number of children and herds of cattle define one’s worth, Suyianga’s family are considered among the lowliest in the community. Without a home or any property attached to their names, they had to look for alternative shelter.
Suyianga was not ready to leave their home and stay at his uncle’s place.
“I felt sad to leave our house because we went to live in a different place. Sometimes we went without food and I did not enjoy that.”
After becoming part of our child sponsorship program, Suyianga began to attend school regularly. He started nursery school but had to repeat it twice due to the school’s poor learning environment.
Through the provision of a school uniform, school fees and books for school, and tutoring provided at Suyianga’s child development center, his performance began to show an upward trend. He is now in grade two and his favorite subject is mathematics.
His parents are impressed by their son’s enthusiasm to learn the Word of God and memorize scripture. Suyianga’s father shares,
“One thing I have noticed about Suyianga is his love for the things of God. He knows a lot about the Bible which he learns at the child development center. He likes to quote John 3:16, ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life,’ as his favorite verse.”
Elkanah, director of Ololulunga Child Development Center, has also witnessed the change in Suyianga’s life.
“His life started to change after his enrollment and more so when he began to receive letters from his dear sponsor. Suyianga is more confident about himself despite his background and this is a result of the encouraging letters he receives from his sponsor.”
One of the letters from Suyianga’s sponsor read,
“God created you for a great purpose. I hope you live a wonderful life making that great purpose come true.”
This is the kind of reassurance he needed.
Sponsor letters mean a lot to Suyianga. From the stack he has, he easily recalls and pulls out one letter in which his sponsor wrote that he often takes time to pray for him.
“Since this letter shows that I am special and that I am able to dream, I want to one day become a pilot.”
That’s a huge ambition for a kid from this village — especially when there are no pilots to look up to, advise him or walk with him. His favorite drawing, however, is an airplane.
“I like to draw planes and send them to my sponsor.”
His parents have not lost hope either. They dream of having their own home and land to till, but the challenges appear enormous given the current circumstances. However, Suyianga offers new hope of breaking the cycle of poverty and he is confident of a greater future.
“I want to one day build my parents a nice and bigger house once I am old enough.”
As Suyianga continues to draw his dream on paper and watch the planes fly over his head, as he goes home and sleeps in the small space on his parents’ bed, he looks forward to better days. Thanks to the encouragement and help of his sponsor, when Suyianga wakes up tomorrow morning, he will not be too tired to follow his dream.