Zainabu in 2008
You may have walked through Bright Hope’s replica of her slum house located in our warehouse. You may have listened to her testimony or seen her picture on Bright Hope’s website. You may not remember her by name, but you know her story.
Exactly four years ago on my trip to the slums of Nairobi, Kenya, I met a vibrant young girl named Zainabu. She was an orphaned teenager trying to support her three younger siblings living in the darkness of poverty. The burden of taking care of her siblings and trying to earn money to survive could have darkened her spirit. But she had an unshakable hope for her future.
Zainabu had been attending our partner church in Nairobi, Mathare Community Outreach Church. She was on the dance team and worshipped the Lord through dance. The pastor of the church spoke highly of this young woman. He said she had great faith in God and remained pure and focused on trusting God with her future.
When I sat down and spoke with her, I asked her what her dreams were for her life. She explained the deaths of her parents and the unwavering burden of trying to take care of her siblings. But then her eyes lit up, and she walked over to a little cabinet in her shack and pulled out a college application – already filled out specifically to major in communications. “This is my dream,” she told me.
It was then that we began the scholarship program in the Mathare Valley slum.
Night classes were her only option, as she had to still find ways to earn money to feed her siblings. It took a team of “body guards” to get her home each night, for the alleys of Mathare are not a place any woman should be walking alone.
Four years later, we praise God for the blessings of helping Zainabu to attend college. We celebrate her today, as she has graduated college with her degree!
The church and friends celebrated by singing “This is the Day That the Lord has Made” and testimonials. She said this in her speech:
“God is good all the time! I’m so happy – I don’t know what to say! I am so grateful to God for this chance that He has brought me. It’s been a long journey full of challenges, full of ups and downs, but I’m so grateful to God. I remember when I was so hopeless, even when my parents were alive and couldn’t afford my school. I had given up hope. And then the day the pastor came to me and told me I was going to school – I was so surprised! I remember I got a Bible, a mattress, a blanket, and some pants, and everything I needed to go to school … First to elementary school, then secondary school and finally college …
Thank you to the Bright Hope organization and all the Bright Hope allies – thank you for all the financial help. Thank you for seeing me through all of this. And to every single person who supported me, who contributed to my success, I have to say thank you.”
Zainabu now has a job and is planning to move out from the slum to better place for her brother and two sisters, another graduation of sorts.
If you would like to help other students graduate from trade schools and universities, it costs $40 for a week of trade school. There are jobs waiting for teachers, accountants and nurses who finish these two year degrees. www.BrightHope.org