In 1998, Boni and Sandy Karanja purchased 8 acres of land in Kenya's Rift Valley. In the 24 years since, their organization, Light of Hope Kenya, has helped more than 400 Kenyan girls through the home and school they built on that land.
It all started in the hearts and minds of the Karanjas.
Boni Karanja is a native of Naivasha, Kenya. He was raised by a single mother and, as is custom in Kenya for the eldest son, he assumed the role and responsibilities of a father, helping to educate and raise his five younger siblings. He eventually moved to the United States, where he settled in Minnesota and met Sandy.
From a young age, Sandy had always known she wanted to help the less fortunate and, particularly, at-risk girls. Her connection and then marriage to Boni seemed like divine intervention as the two shared the same passions — Christian ministry and helping others.
"When they met, it was like a lightbulb turned on," said Erin, director of marketing, development, and donor relations for Light of Hope Kenya. "God put them together to help these girls."
Boni and Sandy opened the Light of Hope Home and School for Girls in Kenya in 2005. The vision of Light of Hope is to provide refuge, restoration, and redirection for the marginalized girls in Kenya. Based in Plymouth, Minnesota, Light of Hope Kenya has provided hundreds of Kenyan girls with a home, food, education, and therapy.
"At Light of Hope, we have girls that live at the Home and School, but we also have day scholars who are girls from stable situations and families who are able to take care of and feed them but aren't able to send them to school,” Erin said.
It's customary in Kenya that boys go to schools while girls don't. Light of Hope 's day scholar program helps for girls from those situations. Girls who board at Light of Hope often are orphans or come from situations of physical, mental, and/or emotional abuse.
Many of the girls helped by Light of Hope Kenya are at Light of Hope through 8th grade and continue on to high school, Erin said.
"We don't just bring these girls in and give them an education," she said. "We teach them about faith in God, we give them practical skills such as gardening and preparing them for the future. We also have therapists and social workers who are helping the girls to heal.”
"You hear their stories of pain and suffering, rape, abandonment, abuse. Every girl has a heart-wrenching story."
Light of Hope Kenya has a clinic on-site. It has helped many girls with their healing but also serves an educational purpose for the girls to begin their journey to become a nurse or doctor if she chooses.
Ultimately, the work Light of Hope is doing in Kenya impacts more than the hundreds of girls they've helped.
"Women are the ones who break the cycle of poverty in their families here," Erin said. "A higher percentage of women's earnings go into taking care of their families."
Light of Hope Kenya has a program for donors to support their mission directly by supporting the education of one of the girls. Called the Friends of Hope program, it allows donors to support one specific girl at Light of Hope Kenya . The annual $2,500 ($210 per month) contribution covers the total cost to provide one girl with boarding, food, education, and medical care over the course of a year. Donors are able to exchange letters and pictures with the girl they support.
"The Friends of Hope program is an important part of these girls' healing, too," Erin said. "It shows them that there are people who really do care about them and are praying for them."
Light of Hope Kenya is hosting its annual observance of International Day Of The Girl with a luncheon on Oct. 12. The event is open to the public as a means to show what Light of Hope Kenya is accomplishing and to share the stories of the girls the organization is helping. Those who’d like to attend the event can RSVP at this link.
At Spave, we are proud to support Light of Hope Kenya in its mission to transform the lives of marginalized girls in Kenya. Light of Hope Kenya is working to provide those girls with education, support, healing, and the tools they'll need going forward. Together, we are working to amplify Light of Hope Kenya's reach, increase its sponsorship, and help it impact even more lives.
We invite you to join us in supporting Light of Hope Kenya. You can set up automatic, recurring donations and/or make one-time contributions to Light of Hope Kenya through the Spave app.