This is the fifth in a series of miraculous true stories about Living Hope High School in Bungoma, Kenya. Stories that share the divine inspiration and dedication to helping students of poverty, who once had no hope, reach their full potential.
Marilyn and her students settled into a daily routine at the “cave school”. A breakfast of milk tea and a boiled egg or porridge began their morning. Classes were held throughout the day with a short break for lunch. In the evening traditional meals of thick grits and greens cooked in a spicy sauce, beans and rice, or corn and beans were prepared for dinner. Each meal was cooked outside as there was no room for an inside kitchen. Outside, there was no space for the children to safely play a game of soccer or even run off some extra teenage energy. It was obvious they already needed more space. Marilyn had also recently discovered that for a school to be recognized by the Kenyan government it had to have grades 9-12 with at least twenty students per grade. She knew without a doubt that this was her calling and so the prayers to find a larger, permanent place for her school began.
God answered Marilyn’s prayers in 2013 when she chose an eight acre property that included a long hut similar to their “mud cave” and a small mud house. Neither were much to look at but that didn’t stop Marilyn from seeing the beauty and potential there. It would take a huge amount of work and they would need vision and help…..lots of help, and constant prayer!
It took time to jump through the governmental hoops AND most of the money Marilyn had left in her savings to purchase the land; but it now belonged to them! Reaching out to the surrounding villages, Marilyn was able to find the twenty freshman she also needed. What started as a seed of an idea, had been planted and nurtured, and now Living Hope had become an official Kenyan High School. In the years leading up to this moment God had provided everything she’d needed just as He’d told her that fateful day back in her kitchen and she was already seeing His continued provision as she took this next step in her journey.
It was a challenge in the beginning. There wasn’t enough building space in either place so the 45 students traveled between their rented mud classroom and the dormitories on the new property. The journey was a precarious one as they hiked the mile and a half each way and like tightrope walkers, had to balance on a single log that lay across the rushing river that separated the two locations. That wasn’t all. Acutely aware of her dwindling funds and determined her kids would not “go to bed hungry”, Marilyn decided she needed to reach out to her sisters for help. Through their commitment and dedicated work God began providing sponsors for the students, salaries for staff, and donations for needed furniture and supplies. Hope was alive and well!
Living Hope High School has thrived since the days of the first rudimentary buildings. The school still receives no funding except through the generosity of sponsorships and donations The property today is close to ten acres, has five classroom buildings, an assembly hall, a computer lab, kitchen, eight dormitory cottages, and a science lab is under construction. Each building is constructed of bricks, hand- made by the students. A deep well was dug to provide running water and electricity has been connected to the computer lab, kitchen, and office. The students tend a 2 acre garden, take care of milk cows and chickens, and play on their own soccer field. This past year the students at Living Hope High School earned the highest test scores out of the 291 schools in their district! The 13 teachers and all the students work very hard and take nothing for granted. It isn't always easy; the budget, sharing textbooks, the ongoing battle against Malaria and Typhoid, the unpredictable weather, and the political climate all pose challenges for Marilyn and the school; but without hesitation, she will tell you of the miraculous God who through the generosity of others, provides just what is needed to help one teacher, who answered His call, share an abundance of “Living Hope” with others.
copyright Living Hope High School, Bungoma, Kenya
2 Corinthians 9:8 (NLT)
As we continue Marilyn’s story you’ll hear more God designed, miraculous events that have happened to her and the school since its beginning. For more information on Living Hope High School go to www.livinghopehighschool.org or call Marilyn’s sister, Helen Markwell at 304-567-2254.