The Joiner Education Complex

We are beyond excited to unveil the Joiner Education Complex, a beacon of hope and education for our budding leaders in the heart of Kenya. Once a single mud hut, where 30 students sat in the dirt, it now stands tall with multiple buildings welcoming over 350 students in an embrace of knowledge and opportunity.

We were delighted to welcome Randy and Cyndi Joiner to celebrate the opening, their incredible support made these dreams possible. They got to meet the students they were directly impacting, many of which started at our school since they were in 4th grade.

The whole village came out for the opening and it was so amazing to get to celebrate all that God has done in Birikani through the school and church.

Want to get involved? Your support can provide pathways for more children to learn, dream, and thrive. Join us in fostering knowledge, hope, and a brighter future for all. 👉 www.retouch.is/give

Update on Seth:…


Update on Seth:

Here are a few prayer points as we continue to intercede on behalf of Seth.

Please Pray in this way:

1. Begin with thanksgiving and praise. God has provided for Seth’s financial needs. We are so grateful for his provision. Praise God for the healing Seth of Hodgkins Lymphoma Stage 4-C. Thank God for giving Seth peace through this difficult process.

2. Pray for Seth’s Kidneys to heal completely. Receiving incorrect and high doses of chemotherapy in Kenya has damaged his Kidneys in such a way that the doctors are not sure if a bone marrow transplant is possible. We need to see an immediate miracle, ask Jesus for new Kidneys.

3. The doctors have decided that Seth is unable to donate toward his own Bone Marrow Transplant due to his levels being too low. They have also suggested that he may not be healthy enough to survive a transplant. Please Pray for Seth’s health to improve dramatically and for a donor-match for the transplant.

4. The doctors are contemplating a few different options for Seth. We need to know God’s plan, please pray for wisdom and revelation for both us and the Doctors as we move forward.

It is important for you to know that we are not discouraged by the latest reports and that we are confident that we serve a miracle-working God who is the provider of everything Seth needs. We believe in physical healing and that it is never God’s will for anyone to be sick. We believe in miracles and that Jesus can do more in a moment than we could ever imagine. We believe in God’s ability to provide financially, everything on earth belongs to Him.

Please join us in praying. Share with your churches and prayer teams.

We can’t wait to see what God is going to do!

_Chris and Jennifer Hadsell


Source

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Tuesday, November 28th is #GivingTuesday and we are so excited!

On the heels of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday has been an anticipated event among the nonprofit world for six years. With almost 100 countries participating and almost $200 million in donations, this year is set to be the biggest yet!

We are excited to share with you that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is teaming up with Facebook to donate 2 Million Dollars to nonprofits. Beginning at 8am on Giving Tuesday, the Foundation is matching up to $50,000 per nonprofit! That means you can help us fund an entire school in just ONE DAY!

Our goal this year is to get our Birikani school entirely supported and Giving Tuesday can make it happen! Check out these easy ways you can provide 200 awesome kids with food, clean water, clothing and education for a entire year.

1. Write a Facebook Post

Create a quick post with @retouchtheworld at the end. After you post, you’ll see a prompt to add a donate button. The Gates Foundation is matching up to $1,000 for donations raised via your Donate Button!

2. Create a Fundraiser

Visit Facebook.com/retouchtheworld and click “Create a Fundraiser”. Up to $1,000 per fundraiser will be matched through The Gates Foundation!

3. Donate Directly

Visit Facebook.com/retouchtheworld and click “Donate”. Facebook is waiving fees for all donations received on Giving Tuesday so 100% of your gift goes directly to our kids!

No matter how you choose to help, any effort or gift will go a long way in making sure our kids can continue to receive the quality Christian Education that Retouch provides.

The Story of the Container Library

Ever wonder how 20,000 books ended up in the African Bush? This is the entire story as told by Sarah, the dreamer and leader who made 200 books multiply by 100.

The last 6 months have been incredible, some of the best and stretching of my life, and it all started with a “yes” and some knocking. In order to tell you where we are, I have to tell you where we have been.

I have been dreaming and working along side 2 of my friends, Chris and Jenn Hadsell, since 2012. We all met college together years before at Lee University in Cleveland, TN. When they invited me to join them in 2012 on a trip to South Sudan, my life changed.

Yei Children’s Village, South Sudan 2012
Walking across the border from Uganda into South Sudan

A few days prior to meeting up with me, they met a pastor and a group of women on the coast of Kenya. These women were mamas with HIV/Aids and a part of a support group called “I Do Not Reject Myself.” Their biggest dream was to get their kids into school and Chris and Jenn did just that.

The Hadsell’s walked out of the room after meeting with these mamas, realizing they had just committed at least 18 years of their lives to helping their kids. They immediately started a sponsorship program for the kids and put them into the growing school of the pastor, Christopher, whom they just met. Sponsorship includes tuition, books, uniforms, 2 meals a day, discipleship, and helps pay the teachers better.

Jenn with the sponsorship kids after 1 year

This school is located in a town in on the coast of Kenya known for prostitution. Many of the girls were brought out of this and into school. School starts early and ends late simply to protect and keep the kids from the many options of the streets.

For the last 4 years they have been fostering education and discipleship. The school has grown in numbers and size- classrooms have been added and the church rebuilt to support the increase. As the school grew they hired a teacher named Patrick, who was from a remote village about 2 hours away. He told Chris and Jenn about this land that had been skipped over by many, but had received a prophesy 20 years before that it was going to be a beacon of light to the area.

In October 2014, the Hadsell’s traveled with Patrick and Pastor Chris to the area where they were greeted by the village and their elders. The village elder, known as the Mzee (pronounced Mizay), was an 80 something year old Muslim man who after tea, lunch, and a meeting, offered them 15 acres of land free and clear in promise that they’d build a Christian church and a school. They couldn’t believe the offer, and realized that they had the option to say yes and take part in something that could be bigger than they imagined. They wholeheartedly agreed, and a meeting was scheduled for January for the official deeds and paperwork to be signed and handed over.

Chris and Jenn in front of the one room school that grew from 30 to almost 200 kids in a matter of 1 year

During this trip, after sponsoring children in his school for over 2 years, Pastor Christopher asked the Hadsell’s for help to support his teachers in the classroom. They extended an invitation to me and our new friend, Dusty, to become educational coordinators and join in partnering with schools and their organization, Retouch. We started with a game plan of doing a 3 day teacher training to increase engagement and depth of knowledge and get to know the schools better.

We went in January 2015 to do our first teacher training alongside Chris and Jenn. We had 3 days of intense training from 8 am – 6 pm with the teachers and spent the remaining days learning about the school and community.

Pastor and Patrick at the 1st teacher training using chalkboards created by American elementary students.

The day after the training finished we went out to the remote land where we had a celebration with the village, and received the official deed for the land. Over a plate of goat in the one room mud nursery, they decided we should hire some of the teachers from the training, including Patrick, and start a school- the following Monday! They went out, shared the news with the village, told them to make sure their kids were clean, and to arrive in the morning- text books, uniforms, and supplies to follow. Most days we eat the elephant one bite at a time, some days it’s a whole leg.

Ceremony at Birikani with the village and elders 2015

During the next 6 months, the nursery grew from 30 kids into a school of over 100 kids, more classrooms were added, a church was planted, and the Mzee seeing all of the change happening began to believe in Jesus. The village whose name used to Mwabila, which literally means mold, changed their name to Birikani, which roughly means door or port, to mirror the prophesy that they would welcome new things.

Birikani

By June of 2015, we had 2 thriving schools and for our next teacher training, we brought 300 books over in our suitcases to start the first library at Pastor Christopher’s school in Mtwapa. I told the teachers once we finished, that if the books looked knew when we came back, no more would come. By October many of the books were shredded at the seams.

First Library/Computer lab in the village
300 books felt like 3,000,000 at the time. Little did we know what a year later would hold!

In late January of 2016, Jenn and I were talking on the phone about bringing more books and realized that if we wanted to see greater growth, taking things over by suitcases alone wasn’t enough. We agreed that we would look into the option of shipping, but also knowing in our guts that our budget couldn’t truly support a shipment. However, that did not stop us looking at possibilities just to see what was out there. I spent every evening over the next 3 weeks calling anybody and everybody who had shipped and said they shipped to Kenya. Looking for a shipping company felt like looking for a needle in a haystack. Who could we trust to get our stuff there safely without ripping us off? We get get it there, but how do we get it out? Many of the companies couldn’t give us realistic quotes because we didn’t know the exact dimensions and weight of what we would want to ship, as donations were constantly trickling in. The quotes ranged from $10,000-40,000 just to get it to the port, not including taxes and freight to the final location.

During this, I was praying and felt like I was supposed to pay the tithe of what we were wanting to do by purchasing 200 new books. So in the middle of February, I found the Scholastic $1 sale, chose 200 titles as if they were the only ones I would be able to take over on the summer trip. The 10 year old quadruplets that I live with prayed with me over the books when they arrived, and we asked for God to multiply them.

The Quads with the tithe books.
My journal entries from the date we prayed for the 200 books to multiply by 20 (2/28/16) to a week later when we got the call that the 200 books could  indeed multiply to 20,000.  (3/3/16).

The following Tuesday, my buddy Chris, (yes, another Chris who I met in Thailand years ago and we both happened to move to Nashville) called and said that the soccer league he plays for in Nashville wanted to hold a drive for us to donate gear to our footballers in Birikani. The soccer guys in Birikani received new matching team jersey’s the previous year from the help of one of my 2nd grade students, Jack, soccer balls donated by my 2nd grade class, and the kids got shoes and matching kits from local children’s teams set up by the quad’s mom, Ann. The guys in Nashville were moved by this and wanted to join in. I called Jenn and we agreed that it was so important to get the soccer gear to the guys and we’d figure out some way to do so. Soccer has become a way to connect to the men, who have not had any formal education, where the school can’t.

Jersey’s and ball donated by students.
Birikani team.  Jersey’s donated by a 2nd grade student with his Christmas money.

At this point on March 1, 2016, there were no shipping leads, no call backs, nothing we could afford, and we knew time was ticking due to the complicated matter international shipping can be. The pressure was mounting as more donations of books and gear were coming in and we had no way at this point to get them over rather than our suitcases.

Exactly one week after we prayed for the tithe books, on a Wednesday morning, March 3rd,  I got a call. The woman on the other end said she had received my message, looked at our website, and said she might be able to help. She said she could help us 1 of 2 ways.

1: put us into contact with their freight forwarder
2: offer to let me put whatever we had donated onto a 40 ft. container and what I don’t fill they will fill with free books.

Yeah, you read that right- a 40 ft.container, I don’t have to do math, and free books- up to 21,000 of them (I started visualizing in bookcases too).

As we continued to talk, she said she happened to have a grant recently come in that would pay for half of the shipping. If we could raise $5,000 by the end of the month we could ship it. After that we could raise the remaining funds for customs, a shipping agent, transport, and other expenses for the construction and set up of the libraries. I immediately called Jenn on my lunch break to first see if this organization, Books For Africa, was the real deal. Sure enough it was one of the top non-profits in Georgia and had raving reviews. We immediately responded back and said yes, almost as quickly as we said yes to the Birikani land.

By that evening we had a GoFundMe set up and had raised seventy whole dollars for shipping our new found container over, which was $70 more plus a container and thousands of books that we didn’t start with that morning. Raising money for something you love brings out the best and ugliest emotions in a person. “Should I be doing this? Asking this? Where are my friends? Relatives? Is this actually going to work out?,” etc. etc are the questions that circle tirelessly around your brain as you lay your head to rest. Walking in the trust of a ‘yes’ to the Lord was stretched to new heights.

I delight in saying that donations didn’t come from who we thought they would, but school children who gave their allowance, their families, birthday parties of donated Legos, a salon in Utah, old roommates, teachers, consignment sales, family, friends, people we never met, etc. In one month we raised $16,000. For us in financial terms, that was a few thousand less than our operating budget for a WHOLE year!

These 2 boys donated their birthday presents of Legos to the school.  “Not all kids just want to read and play sports.”

During the time of fundraising we also collected over 3,000 books. Students and friends sacrificed their free hours and spring break to level, label, and pack for shipment so that books could be immediately used in the libraries that they probably couldn’t locate on a map. We realized the importance of not just dropping off thousands of books left to be organized, but to set it up as a proper library with a sorting system and students becoming aware of what were ‘good fit’ books for them.

Books were literally being donated by the car loads.
…and trailer loads!

Realizing the magnitude of items that would fit into a container, we decided to just purchase the container itself. We decided we would turn it into a library in Birikani, so it could protect the books from the dust  and also hold the materials as we continued to sort them out. The library in Mtwapa was completely remodeled from a timber, brick and mud church into a ventilated and fully finished room with electricity! We were well on our way to having not one, but now TWO libraries.

The soccer league that partnered with us spread the word about what they were doing and soon other area leagues joined in. A company called One World Play Project, who has balls that don’t pop and deflate, heard about our story and how we had used their balls already decided to donate us 30 more. The day we packed up our moving truck to drop off our shipment at the Books for Africa warehouse we had 3,000 books, 10 large boxes of school supplies, 793 jerseys, 137 pairs of shoes, 24 sets of shin guards, 368 shorts, 107 soccer balls, 522 pairs of socks, 5 goalie gloves, and 59 water bottles that were to be added to the additional 14 pallets of books that were provided by Books for Africa.

One World Balls
MTSA drive!… the day before we delivered to the warehouse.

After purchasing the container, loading it, and sorting through all of the documentation, the container set sail on the high seas for 5 weeks. It left from Atlanta to Savannah, Georgia and arrived in Mombasa, Kenya on June 13th without a hitch. The container held over 450 boxes and weighed over 20,000 lbs.

Nashville to Atlanta and didn’t hit a single curve!
They added 14 more pallets of books to our 6!

We soon learned getting it to Kenya was much easier than getting it out of port. We ran into a hitch when our shipping agency was unaware that they not only had to fumigate the container (which we did) for the soccer gear but to also include a document that said it was up to “Kenyan standards.” This flagged the container and delays piled up. The shipping agents weren’t in a rush to get the people out to look at the soccer items and so it was moved into a shipping storage yard, that is as you can assume expensive and frustrating. Once they got into the container, they realized our items were not met that “Kenyan Standard” but exceeded it and they wanted to charge an additional $3500 in customs on top of the $3000 we already paid. Our agent on the ground was able to talk them down to $500 since the items were going to a school and not into the market. As they were leaving one of the shipping agents saw a box of Bibles and asked for one as they left the container, which we happily gave. We were fortunate in working with an amazing shipping company that fought for us and covered these costs.

Dusty and I with the local shipping agents who helped us get it out of port.
Teacher training with Lego’s in Mtwapa!

Inside one of the Birikani classrooms

During the original anticipated time of the container’s arrival, I had 2 friends fly over from the states for the sole purpose of helping me set up the libraries. One had planned the trip for months, the other came on a whim. With the delay, both of them missed it arriving, but were invaluable assets during the waiting game of getting it out of the port. In every circumstance, people make the difference, so surround yourself with the best.

What friends!!!!

Two weeks and one day after arriving in port, the container finally made it to the land in Birikani. We literally had to repave parts of the road and build a bridge in preparation to get it there on what are typically unkempt mud roads, and it arrived safely without a hitch.

The bridge Retouch built to support the container
The container and school
Patrick, me, and Pastor Chris
Patrick’s son, Julo, my fav.
Patrick and I were simply overjoyed.
A recess we’ll never forget!

We spent the afternoon waiting for a truck to help lift and pull it off of the freight, and by the light of the setting sun, it finally landed upon it’s final resting spot. The village cheered when it finally landed after 2 hours of working to get it off the truck.  It was like a live action movie before our eyes.  The dust hadn’t even settled before they all got together to sing and pray over the container, thanking God for all He has provided.

Mama’s after we prayed over the container
The delay made an opening for Chris and Jenn (the founders, heart, and backbone), who previously were unable to make it for the container’s original release date, to be able to catch a flight from Mozambique and meet us the night the container was released. Together with other Pastors, teachers, soccer players, and mamas from the village, we were able to unpack and set up the library the next day by lunch time. We trained the teachers, let the kids hold books for the very first time, watched a soccer match, and ate lunch with everybody inside of our new container library.  The container was renamed Birka la Elimu, meaning ‘portal of education.’
Pastor Christopher
First things first!
We couldn’t believe how well everything traveled!
The footballers with their new gear!
The Pastor’s telling me how to decorate.  Bless them.
The library up front, with 14 more pallets of BOOKS and soccer gear in the back.
Chris reading them their first story.
Now, this is a room with a view!
Our teachers in Birikani.

 

We hired a van and loaded down the Pastor’s van with books and supplies for the library in Mtwapa and head back into town. Two days later the library in Mtwapa was finished. We hired a teacher from the school to be our librarian and trained him on how to level and organize the library. He will continue to add books from the container and keep both libraries organized and growing.

Seth our Librarian!
The Books for Africa books were INCREDIBLE!
Eternal Christmas.
Just the beginning!

We have so many books that we intend on sharing them with local schools along with a new soccer ball. The men and youth in the area are setting up a league of their own to play on. It is our dream that one day we will have a permanent professional soccer field to go along side our growing school and church.

Birikani team about to play a match with their new cleats and ball

To this day, it is still surreal that there is a container on the land in Birikani. We also know that this is just the beginning of what is to come for our communities in Kenya. We have learned that this journey is not meant to be done alone. Many hands make light work, and open up space to exceed our wildest dreams. Because of communities connecting, it is becoming normal for kids to have books at school, the supplies they need, and the equipment they need to play. Our goal is to make the ordinary extraordinary, and the extraordinary ordinary.

Students reading the guided readers from their library.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” Ephesians 3:20

Save

Save

If you could create vision for our school what would it be?

As we sat in a circle and discussed what made our school unique I asked the teachers, “If you could create a vision for our school what would it be? What is the end goal of our school? How is it going to impact the community? What is the big picture? What is your vision for this school?”

Their answers stunned me. They weren’t trite or mundane but spoke directly to the needs of the community.

They wrote:


Our vision is to: 
Reduce Prostitution
End Child Marriage
Educate Poverty
Eliminate Illiteracy


Usually when you ask a group of teachers to create a vision for their school they come with answers like: A student-centered learning environment. A nurturing, safe, and professional place to learn. Increaseacademic achievement. Developing lifelong learners. Higher test scores.
While these visions are great and may meet the needs of those individual schools; the needs of our schools in Kenya are so vastly different.When your community is inundated with systemic poverty, illiterate and uneducated adults, child marriages, and prostitution, both voluntary and forced, your vision can not be mundane.

Your vision has to be one that creates hope and brings change to your community. Our schools do that.
In the midst of a community plagued by these issues our schools have become a beacon of hope. They are a place where not only will children receive an astounding education but will be equipped to transform their community. They are surrounded by teachers that love them and pour into them academic knowledge and biblical truths. They are empowered to face the darkness around them and point towards the light. In doing this our students bring hope to their community so that soon… child marriage will end, illiteracy will be eliminated, prostitution will be reduced, and the impoverished will be educated.

It is a vision worth having.


About the author: Dusty Strickland is one of our amazing Education Coordinators. He has been in education for the
past 10 years. He taught for 5 years as a 5th grade Social Studies and Science teacher. Following this he worked as a Reading Interventionist at the high school level and then became an Instructional Coach. As an Instructional Coach, he develops and delivers professional development for his teachers, observes classrooms, models and co-teaches lessons, and works with struggling teachers. Throughout his career Dusty has worked in Elementary, Middle School, and High school.

To get involved with our schools, consider sponsoring a child today: http://retouch.is/sponsorship/

Get to Know: Sarah Roberts

As part of a new “get to know us” series, We recently sat down with Sarah Roberts, a dear friend and one of the educational coordinators for Retouch. Sarah volunteers with Retouch, coordinating literacy programs, and lower primary teacher training. She is passionate about reading and spear-headed a new library at our Mtwapa primary school. When she’s not out galavanting around the world, you’ll find Sarah teaching 2nd grade, eating fine cheese or being the general life of the party.

Q. When did you first want to be a teacher?

Sarah: Being a teacher was the LAST thing I wanted to do. Some days I just laugh when I get introduced as a teacher! It was below being being a dish washer and cleaning up road kill. However, when I look back at my life I see the desire to teach was woven in my every move. Throughout high school, it was my intent to go to medical school. I took every medical class I could and was bound and determined to make that my life’s work. As with most things that we think we control- the heart might be there but it usually looks different than the label we want to put on it. At my core I want to work with people in a tangible way that leads to Jesus and I prayed that it my life reflected that. After a series of what I think are divine circumstances in the most unlikely places I decided to change the university I planned on going to and my major. I had never felt more confidence or peace in my decision to pursue education, and that has only grown over the years as a teacher.

Q. Who is your biggest influence and how are they affecting the person you are today?

Sarah: Educationally, my biggest influence is my AP English teacher Mrs. Virginia Riley. To this day I email her for book lists and go see her and her family when I am in town. Mrs. Riley is a brilliant lifelong learner and feisty about doing what’s best for students. She made me the learner I am today. By made I mean she would tear our paper to shreds and out of the ashes we would find the true meaning of text. She showed us over and over through our classes that our reading and writing has to connect to something bigger than what lies on the page. Besides writing, reading, and analyzing, she had us create life lists that she sent to us 5 years after we graduated. What’s funny to me is that the things that I thought I would accomplish first—- marriage, children, owning a home, going to the Caribbean have hit the sidelines to working with Sudanese refugees, seeing miracles, riding a camel in front of the Great Pyramids of Giza, getting a masters, not having a large bank account, and doing a jig in an Irish pub. Literacy put into practice brings freedom and exceeds the far-reaching dreams we have for ourselves.

Q. Regarding your work with Retouch, what are you most excited about?

Sarah: When I think about ‘working’ with Retouch nothing but excitement and possibility enter my mind. It makes the prayers of my past and desires of my heart real. It’s the best adventure I’ve been on to date and one I can’t wait to see grow, develop, take root, and multiply! Honestly, just give me some time to sit anywhere with some books, paper, the kids and we’ll be just fine!

Q. What can people expect to see from your work in Kenya?

Sarah: I don’t know what to expect out of Kenya!!! Every time I set foot on that soil I am humbled by what God wants to do there. I don’t do anything half, but I am learning that there is little to do with me in this line of work. I’ve had the privilege of seeing what happens when an idea opens up and becomes bigger than your dreams. So many connected hands have made the incredible things we are seeing in Kenya possible. Small miracles make big miracles. Soccer teams, chalkboards, and libraries are just the beginning. I hope people see Jesus in everything we do.

Q. In your classroom in Franklin, there are books EVERYWHERE. Why do you stress reading for your kids?

Sarah: Books in the hands of students brings infinite possibilities. Books don’t pressure you- I haven’t one talk back to me yet. It’s up to the reader to decide how to respond to it’s pages. Books inspire curiosity and are the private tutors that keep teaching and leaves room for possibility and interaction for the students long after I’m gone. Books are our silent allies, advocates, comforters, friends, mentors, professors, and counselors. They are always ready to be used and are flexible with our schedules and needs. Literacy brings freedom and I am always eager to see what they do with it.

Q. What’s their favorite book? Why do you think they like it so much?

Sarah: My students’ favorite book could be dependent on the day, the weather, or what they had at lunch. Their favorite books are always ones that they connect to (that’s where the teacher’s job becomes fun and real). Reading without meaning isn’t reading, it’s decoding. I find that kids (and adults) love books that make them think or escape. Authors and illustrators like Oliver Jeffers, Steve Jenkins, and Mo Willems are classroom favorites. Literature that has in their words, “actually happened” or are “real” immediately become enticing like Marcel Marceau, Breaking Stalin’s Nose, The One and Only Ivan, and Soldier Bear. Plus you always have to have a few on hand to just make them laugh like The Book with No Pictures and the Elephant and Piggie series. I am constantly looking for rich literature to use in the classroom because it makes my job easier and their learning so much deeper! The more they connect the more they read.

Q. Is there anything else you want our readers to know?

Sarah: Besides eating snacks, working with Retouch has been the sweetest and best thing I have done in life to date. We aren’t special or anything fancy. We are, however, people who love Jesus wholeheartedly and want to live our lives for Him fully- whatever that looks like. Partner with us. What you might deem as small becomes much bigger when you allow what you have to be used by Jesus for His people.

 

To find out more about Sarah and the work she’s doing in Kenya, you can contact her at Sarah@retouch.is

Learn: New Sponsorship Options

At Retouch, the most direct way to impact a child is to give Education.

For the past few years, we’ve been offering Child Sponsorship as an opportunity for individuals like you, to change the life of a child in need. At $45 a month, sponsorship is often out of reach for working families and those who want a way to positively impact the world.

Starting today, for only $20 a month, you can help sponsor an entire classroom of students. Together with other donors, you will ensure that students have what they need to succeed.

Your monthly donation will go toward things like books, shoes, meals and teacher salaries. From time to time, you’ll get a letter or a photo from one of the kids you are impacting or from the whole class!

Classroom sponsorship is an opportunity to be apart of bigger picture. Together we can truly change the world.

 

To find out more and to get involved, please visit our website at www.retouch.is/sponsorship and look for the “Sponsor a Class” option.

Learn: Why A Crown

No doubt if you’ve been around us for very long, you noticed that we recently acquired a new Logo/Brand Mark.

Why the change? What does it mean?

First a story.

Our sponsorship program includes and emphasizes the marginalized and broken. Most of our kids come from very impoverished families (living on less than $2 a day), many of who are single parent homes. At the start, simply going to school is the grandest of dreams.

At Retouch, we believe that every child should have the opportunity to dream beyond getting to eat that day or having a place to sleep. We strive to create an environment that satisfies basic needs (food, water, shelter, education) and presents chances to dream for a wild future.

A few years ago, we took in a small little boy named Larry. He was quiet, unassuming and had a scar on his forehead like Harry Potter. Looking back, we didn’t really notice anything about Larry or his story, that stuck out at the time. We simply placed him in school and put him on the path to dreaming.

All of the kids in sponsorship form a penpal relationship with their sponsors. They write letters (that often sound the same) and wait with baited breath for their far away sponsors to write back. We usually try and give the letters a read before sending them, mostly so we can track the child’s progress and identify any problems they may be having. It’s sort of like a parent snooping in their child’s journal, it’s ultimately for their good.

On one such occasion we came across Larry’s letter to his sponsor. Like most of the kids he had drawn a picture at the bottom, only this time His picture was of a golden crown, where usually the pictures are of crudely drawn houses or some Kenyan animals. Intrigued, we read his letter, looking for the source of the crown. In the letter, Larry wrote “One day I will be the King of Kenya, will you come rule Kenya with me?”

It was simple. Childlike. And honestly, we could have dimissed it as another fanciful child-hood dream… that is, if Larry was a child of privilege. You see, our kids don’t dream like that, at least we didn’t know they did. Their answers to “what do you want to be when you grow up?” are flat, pre-programmed answers. They’re not big, enormous, impossible dreams like becoming King of Kenya. Kenya doesn’t even have a King!

No, this… this was something else altogether. This was what we had been praying for, Kids who would believe that they could do and be anything they could imagine.

King Larry was the first fruit of prophetic imagination. His crown spoke deeply to our hearts about what the latent potential in every child and in every person. Slum kids, poor kids, broken families… God moves among the last and the least, elevating and empowering.

Even about Jesus they said “what good thing can come out of Nazareth?”

Obviously the savior did.

And so I find myself asking in every slum and shanty village…“what good thing will come from here? Where are the King Larry’s?” The quiet ones with little scars that are yet to realize who they are and the potential they carry.

That’s why we used a crown.

It’s about yet-to-be realized potential, laying dormant in the life of every child and every person. It’s about the kingdom of God bringing it forth and establishing their identity.