EAGLE — Most families in Kenya aren’t able to afford school for their children, and tuition is often paid for with goats.
When West Ada’s Idaho Fine Arts Academy students heard of this deep level of poverty, they decided to act.
“Education is the only way out of poverty for these students,” said Anna Roth, a sophomore at Idaho Fine Arts Academy. “We take our education for granted and Kenya students cherish education.”
It all started when Boise resident Vincent Muli Wa Kituku visited Idaho Fine Arts Academy last year to speak at a assembly. Kituku was raised in a Kenyan poverty family and moved to the United States in 1986.
In 2014, he purchased a school in Kenya that has eight classrooms, athletic field, kitchen, dining hall, a dormitory and garden — supported through Caring Hearts and Hands of Hope, Inc. He created Caring Hearts High School and is working to educate young girls in Nguluni, Kenya. Many students attend school through eighth grade because many families can’t afford high school, which costs more than $500.
“Kituku’s story inspired me,” said Kiana Cathrae, a sophomore at Idaho Fine Arts Academy. “We all started brainstorming how we could help.”
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Last year, 25 teens who are part of the Idaho Fine Arts Academy Interact Club — a club sponsored by the Eagle-Garden City Rotary — raised $2,000 . That money sponsored four girls to attend Caring Hearts High. One of the Kenyan girls will graduate in January as a senior. This year, the group has a goal of $4,000 to send the same three girls back to school for another year and sponsor a new incoming freshman. With the extra funds, they hope to bring a Kenya girl to Idaho to share the same educational experiences through an exchange program.
The tuition, room and board for one student at Caring Hearts High is $500 a year.
“We are changing lives,” said Kaitlin Blake, a sophomore at Idaho Fine Arts Academy.
The Interact Club students receive letters from the four Kenyan girls and they explain how thankful they are and the family situations they are in. Incoming freshman, Irene, wrote in a letter; “it’s my dream to complete my education so that I can help my mother who is mentally challenged and care for my three siblings.”
“This is about awareness and making everyone more knowledgeable about what is happening with education in another country,” said Baylee Munson, a senior at Idaho Fine Arts Academy.
Students have pledged to sponsor one student in each high school grade level at Caring Hearts High for as long as possible.
“I want to build the relationships between the two schools,” said Brendan Earle, a history teacher and Interact Club adviser at Idaho Fine Arts Academy. “We would love to sponsor more students and even visit the school in Kenya.”