Inspiring Millennials: How This 25-Year-Old Built a School for Children in Poverty

A “God Drop” is how Laura Hoke describes the salary offer she received her senior year in college from a large FORTUNE 500 corporation where she had worked as a marketing intern the prior summer. “I knew right away that God was entrusting me with those resources to do something special,” says Laura.

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Benson’s New Classroom

Benson wakes up at 6:00 a.m. every Saturday excited that he will see his friends and learn Bible lessons. On this particular Saturday, the children at his child development center learn a life-lesson, and child development director, Mercy, takes them through the devotion.

It’s chilly and the teacher starts the lesson. As drum beats fill the air, children fill with excitement — the right mood for a story.

Teacher Mercy starts,

“Once upon a time there were two buckets that hung by the Simenya Well. They kept on being drawn by the residents of Simenya. One late afternoon, tired with the day’s work, they took time to rest and spoke to each other.”

At this point Teacher Mercy coughs and holds two buckets as visual aid while pointing them to the children.

In the background, one hears a symphony of coughs and sneezes from the children because of the weather. Her “classroom” is outside.

She continues,

“One of the buckets was always grumbling. It never looked at life cheerfully. On this particular day, as it rested outside the well it said to the other bucket, ‘I am tired of the life we lead. However full we are when we are drawn up out of the well, we are sent back empty again. This makes me disappointed and dissatisfied.’

The second bucket looked at life differently. It did not grumble because it looked at the positive side of life. It said, ‘That’s true, but I always look at it this way — that however empty we are when we are set down, we are always full when draw up.'”

Teacher Mercy declares the end of the story, looks at the children, sees the cloudy skies, and whispers a prayer to God, “Please Lord, help us build classrooms to house these children.”

For the last three years, trees randomly placed in the Simenya Child Development Center church compound have been serving as “classrooms” for the children. Unfortunately the days can be nightmares for some of the children in the center, especially when they come to the wall-less classrooms, during extreme weather conditions.

According to Mercy,

“The long rainy seasons fall in March to May, while the short rainy seasons are during the months of August to September and sometimes trickle into October.

These are dreaded months by children, teachers and parents alike. One is likely to meet children shivering in the chilly days with hands tightly clasped across their chest, to preserve the little body temperature.

It is during this period, we have seen children affected by periodic fever. These are the times when we see children walk out of class or even stay away from the classes, with parents citing fear of fever attack.”

During the hot season months, we have not been spared either. This area has characteristic dry spells, which leaves the indigenous trees without leaves. Scorching sunbeams through the sketchy branches penetrate the out-door classes. Because of this, Simenya Child Development Center has made numerous efforts to address this immense challenge.

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