When Covid19 Pandemic hit the world in the beginning of this year, it threw everyone and everything into a disarray. Kenya announced school closure on March 15th and a total country lockdown ensued after that. The Team Academic Board of Directors were concerned about the welfare of our students at Immanuel Junior Academy. They were in constant communication with the Program Director and were able to establish different ways to continue supporting the different needs that were arising.
Covid19 Funding was sent out and the money was used to:
Sharon Mwende was among the first recipients of the Jefferson Clay Hulsey Memorial Scholarship, awarded by Team Academic. This scholarship paid for tuition, books, housing, transportation and all other college related fees for the last two years of Sharon’s college. Sharon graduated with a Degree of Bachelor of Actuarial Science from Kisii University (Kenya) in December 2019. She is currently looking for a job/Internship so she can acquire experience in her field of study and help her family financially. She was an exceptionally bright student all through her schooling. She averaged an A letter grade in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE), even though she had spent a lot of time in and out of the school due to lack of school fees.
Sharon’s Mother is a single parent to two children; Sharon and her younger brother Brian. Their father has never been in their life and his whereabouts is unknown. Their mother is unemployed as she struggles with mental illness cause by depression, she is usually in and out of Mathare Mental Hospital. The family lives in a slum in Athi River town, which is in the outskirts of the Kenyan capital city Nairobi.
Sharon and Brian are Alumni of Immanuel Junior Academy (also a Team Academic sponsored program) which helped them through elementary school. For their high school, their family and friends supported them through fundraising. When it came to their University education, they were hoping to get college loans from the government, but they were denied since their mother had outstanding college loans that were not paid. Sharon struggled through the university until Team Academic came to her rescue in January 2019.
Sharon and Brian are the first recipients of the Jefferson Clay Hulsey Memorial Scholarship, awarded by Team Academic. Mr. Hulsey passed in 2018, and the Team Academic community came together to make donations for this scholarship in his honor. He lived a full life of 79 years. Mr. Hulsey was only able to attend school until the 9th grade because he had to work to provide for his 9 siblings. His parents died when he was younger. He would be proud to know that this fund is helped Sharon complete her college degree and is helping Brian make progress toward his goal.
Thanks for the financial support that you have been giving me, it really played a crucial role in my university life. I have finished my clearance graduated on 20th December 2019.
My journey through university has been great. I learnt many things that will help me all through my life. First, I learnt how to be independent, that is how to make my own decisions without other people influencing me. I also gained a lot of academic knowledge in the Actuarial field and I am very excited to go into the career field and put into practice what I have learnt.
My journey through university was not a smooth one, it had some challenges. I was admitted to the university late due to financial problems, for the first and second year, I used to report late due to financial constraints. Thank you Team Academic for making my latter life in university comfortable and enjoyable.
I would like to further my academic and pursue a Master’s in Actuarial Science. I would like also to learn some data analysis software which will enable me to be relevant in the current job market.
Sharon Mwende Kitavi
On December 27, 2019 Team Academic had the opportunity to visit with one of the schools we support in the slum of Athi River, Kenya– Immanuel Junior Academy(IJA). Here are some notes from our visit. My family and I brought 3 huge suitcase of supplies, from the US, thanks to the generous Team Academic donors. These supplies included 2 new laptop computers, a printer/scanner, books, pencils, new clothes, soccer balls, etc. After an interesting 45 minutes trying to find the school in Athi River slum (they don’t use addresses) we finally found it. Ms. Joyce, Team Academic Kenya Program Manager and IJA director, greeted us at the school. IJA had delayed graduation ceremony until our visit so all the kids and some parents were there…even though there were officially out for the holidays. There were about 40 students represented from ages preschool to 3rd grade.
Thanks to the Team Academic donors, we were able to pay for rent on a new school facility for the entire 2020 year. This allowed the school to be moved from a facility with no electricity or bathrooms. The new facility, while modest, does have these amenities. We performed a ribbon cutting ceremony and officially opened the new school. They even installed a sign that said we opened it. (I would have preferred the sign to reference Team Academic instead of me personally – since it is a team effort - but I was honored nevertheless.
We participated in various ceremonies including planting a tree, feeding the students and finally the graduation ceremony. They actually provided me with a cap and gown and I was honored to hand out diplomas to the students who completed grades.
We were also joined by Stephen Osero who is an intern with Team Academic. Stephen is from Kenya and is currently attending graduate school at the University of North Alabama. Stephen worked with local internet service providers and got the internet set up for IJA. So in just a few weeks the school has gone from having no electricity to now having internet! We are now in the light ages!
Thanks to all the Team Academic donors for the support that we were able to provide to IJA. There is still a lot to be done, but we are improving the quality of life by removing barriers to education for these students!
The Spring of 2019 was the second consecutive year Team Academic volunteers have visited Nepal to meet our students and learn about their needs. This year Team Academics founder brought two Team Academic Communication Interns along to help on the trip – Tucker Glasgow and Bobby Theberge. The group was guided by Hem Bastola - the Team Academic program manager for Nepal. The group trekked through miles of trails over a week sleeping in tea houses. They met with many students, teachers and administrators to learn about challenges and deliver funds and materials. The people of Nepal warmly welcomed Team Academic into their homes and schools. It was a great trip for all involved.
Team Academic was welcomed into the home of some of our students. Team Academic volunteers were able to participate in Holi Festival. During this colorful festival, Nepalese and foreign tourists will throw each other with dry powder and colored water to express their sincere blessings and good wishes.
In the Winter of 2019 Team Academic Board member Emily Kimani met with the Team Academic Kenya Program Manger Ms. Joyce. Emily was able to deliver much needed funds for the 2019 school year and learn about challenges.
Even though we just got started we have identified our first scholarship candidate. Her name is Puja Khatri and she lives in a village called Beni in Nepal. Hem, our local program manager, learned about her because the local press shared a letter that she wrote to the school, this past August, which describes why she cannot attend school due to family and financial reasons. You can read the letter at the this link
This letter pulled at Hem's heart strings and, on behalf of Team Academic, he took a 4-hour public bus and walked 45 minutes to her village to meet with Puja and visit her home. He met her grandfather and school master. He gave her school supplies (pictured at right) and we plan to offer more formal support by the time the next school year starts in April, 2019. Fortunately, her local community came together and supported her for this school year after this letter was published.
This is but one example of children we plan to support with this organization.