Mrs Tom at the school in Kenya is one of the initiatives supported by Women Like Us Foundation. And right now, they need your help. An urgent need is a water tank so the children are not drinking water from the river. Can you help us? More here and how to DONATE.
Mrs. Tom is a woman like us. Here is her story.
Years ago, a little baby girl in Kenya was born out of wedlock and abandoned in the bushes. Her life would have ended had she not been picked up and taken to her grandmother’s home. The life of women and girls in Kenya is often seen as a burden; many of them truly become beasts of burden under their husband’s rule. That is where the story of Mrs. Tom begins.
“I was happiest in my childhood while at school,” she says. “My teachers and classmates kept my mind off the life at home, a life of abuse and lack of kindness and love. I grew up very miserable, as I would term it. I can recall one particular memory where I had unintentionally forgotten to sharpen a pencil for my sister, and my sister reported to my mother. That day I was beaten and thrown out into the rains at night. I sat outside in the cold and wet while the rest of my family remained inside eating their supper. A kind neighbor took me to his house and that is where I slept until morning. Even now as I think back to that evening, I have a difficult time understanding how a mother could sleep when she didn't know where her daughter was out in the rainy night.
School was Mrs. Tom’s refuge. Education is a harbor for many children in Kenya. She recalls that even as a child she understood that education would be good for her and would give her a better life. Because she loved learning, she was able to attend school through 8th grade. Because there were school fees and her family had no money, Mrs. Tom’s teacher would hide her when the authorities came around to collect fees, she was not on the register; she was able to attend school for free.
Her adult journey began working at a preschool in her area. Eventually, she began her own school for children like her, in unfortunate and distressing circumstances… children who are orphans, have no guidance and no place to go. It became her mission to bring these children together, feed them and help them learn. It was in a small building on the edge of Lake Victoria where she began and where International Artist Nancy Noel found her when out one day looking for things in Kenya to photograph and paint. That was ten years ago.
Today, the N A Noel School holds over 200 children, but there is still much work to do. The children arrive to be taken in by Mrs. Tom almost daily and the school continues to grow.
Through the generosity of Nancy Noel and the efforts of Women Like Us Foundation and others, the school has made strides. But the work is never done.
As part of the Women Like Us humanitarian travel effort, we traveled to Rusinga last year and met the children. While there, we taught music, played sports, and brought school supplies. Women Like Us Foundation has funded the building of latrines, sent dollars for millet, rice and beans, which is used for porridge for the children in the morning, and lunch for those who can pay a fee to eat it. There are 185 children who cannot afford to eat lunch. For the children that do eat lunch, it is only available twice per week. Women Like Us Foundation has implemented a lunch program and most
recently is creating a project to build a garden and teach the children and Mrs. Tom how to tend to it on their own. What Mrs. Tom started is continuing. But the job is never done in Kenya. Textbooks, teachers and more space for the children are imperative. Mrs. Tom continues to believe that children can have a better life. So do we!
Mrs. Tom and her family live at one end of the tumbled down school. The dirt floors are swept and the children sleep six across a bed and six more on the floor. The food provided for the school is shared with her family. The journey continues. It is a life of need and hope, every day.
Read more about Mrs. Tom and the school at www.womenlikeusfoundation.org.