Chris' School Fund

Chris Ochieng was born eighteen years ago in Migori County, in Kenya. He comes from a single parent home. He has one brother and two sisters. His father passed away in 2007 due to HIV. Chris was ten years old then. Upon his demise, the entire clan and family turned against them and took away all their property and land, leaving them destitute and vulnerable.  This dark side of widowhood left his mother disempowered and ostracized. In many cultures in Africa women have no rights to ownership over their husband’s property. For widows to be allowed to remain in their matrimonial property, they are expected to fulfill and participate in traditional obligations and traditions like widow inheritance.

Mrs. Odhiambo resisted these traditions and for that she paid the ultimate price. She and her children were left in abject poverty. Mrs. Odhiambo moved to Kware, an informal settlement in Ongata Rongai. She struggled to fend her children through selling omena (sardines).

She was left with not only the responsibility of taking care of four children but also the responsibility of taking care of herself, since she also tested positive for HIV. Chris' brother Chilion dropped out of school due to lack of school fees. His sister Olivent, who is 16 years old, is in form one (ninth grade) in Nkaimurunya secondary school in Rongai, Kenya. Chris' youngest sister, six-year-old Valary, is in pre-unit (pre-K) in High Hope Academy. Olivent was recently sent home due to lack of school fees and Chris had to talk to the principal to allow her to stay in school while they look for money.

Mrs. Odhiambo relocated up country to Migori due to her health. She also believed this would save her fmaily money, since she has no source of income. The family’s socioeconomic status is in a dire state because the income Chilion gets is inconsistent. This has left a great emotional and financial toll on him. There many days and nights they have slept hungry and in the cold due to financial challenges. This has forced the family to move from one place to another.

Mrs. Mary Akinyi Odhiambo has been in and out of the hospital and recently bed-ridden due to opportunistic infections. Her legs are all swollen and she is unable to walk on her own. She is currently in the hospital but the doctors have been unable to diagnosis her condition. They have requested Chris to travel home and transfer her to a different hospital for further medical checkup. Chris is unable to travel home due to financial problems and for him to do so he has to sell sardines at the local market.

In 2015, Chris sat for his KCSE examinations and scored an impressive grade of B. It was a great achievement in many fronts. He is the first member in his family to complete high school. The circumstances surrounding his life during the period of the examinations could even make the strongest of men falter. In August, Chris will join Maseno University, but his younger sisters will be left in a vulnerable situation because they will lack an adult and active caregiver. This is because Chris has been the brother and father to the sisters.

Beacon of Hope has walked with Chris through his education process. The organization has also been instrumental by providing some scholastic materials like school shoes and uniform. Beacon of Hope has also provided psychosocial support systems, career counseling, and Bible forums for his wellbeing.  Chris is currently volunteering at Beacon of Hope as he waits to join university.

In the university Chris will be majoring in Business Information Technology . Chris requires a sponsor to enable him join university.

- Pauline Mbatha, social worker, Beacon of Hope
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Matt Gilleskie 
Chapel Hill, NC
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