Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

Teachers around the world go to great lengths every day to ensure their children have access to education.

When ChildFund met Eric during the Africa Food Crisis, his village in Kenya had not seen a drop of rain in more than a year.

Students were dropping out of his school because their parents were forced to flee their homes in search of greener pastures for their livestock.

Eric was determined to keep his school open against all odds.

“For the last two years we had very little or no rain,” Eric said.  “From last year, we have not received even a drop of rainfall.”

“There is, right now, not enough pasture, and even water, to sustain the animals around.

“People are forced to look for water.  There is water about 50km from here but that is not for livestock, that is for the people first.”

During emergencies children are often forced to leave school. Sometimes it is temporary, and families are able to relocate to a place where their children can re-enrol or return once the emergency has passed.

Unfortunately, too often it is permanent.

Eric was worried about this happening at his school, so he and his staff devised a strategy.

“Some years back we were forced to close the school because of a passing drought like this one,” Eric said. “But recently we made a strategy.”

Little did Dave Meney know that after sponsoring a three-year-old boy from Kenya, he would eventually go on to employ that same boy with the big smile at his Australian engineering firm, 26 years later.

Twenty-nine-year-old Francis Mwanu has been working with Dave since late 2017, as a virtual assistant, managing documents, contacts and projects at West Australian-based company Yenem Engineering Services.

While Francis is based in Nairobi in Kenya, and Dave in Perth, the pair are in touch every day, talking business over emails and Skype.

“It’s my wife Ann who stays in touch with Francis about the other stuff; she knows more about what’s going on with his life outside work and how his mum is,” Dave says.

Start of a life-long friendship

The Meneys have known Francis since 1993, when they began sponsoring him through ChildFund Australia. Dave, at the time, had just received a pay rise after starting a new job and wanted to donate some of the extra money he was earning to charity.