This is the fourth 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.
When Marilyn returned to her storage building classroom she found things much as she had left them. The teacher she’d hired before she left and her freshman class welcomed her back. She embraced her role of teacher again right away. They spent long days together in the dark shed using every moment of daylight they could for learning. The students flourished academically and they developed a respect and admiration for Marilyn.
Because the students and Marilyn ate and slept at Rehema Orphanage, she encountered the Director regularly. He was an influential man who flaunted his position, wearing suits while those around him wore meager clothing. He owned a car while others walked for miles. His quarters were equipped with running water while the children in his care had to haul theirs. Marilyn suspected he’d been the one to take the money she’d donated instead of using it for firewood. As time passed, the Director couldn’t hide his jealousy of Marilyn’s success. He also made it clear that he knew about her bank account and he coveted that money. The situation became so unbearable she knew she had to find a way out!
When Marilyn heard of an empty building down the road, she planned to leave with the kids in the dark of night to find it. Once again, God had a better plan! “Unexpectedly,” the Director was called away from the orphanage in the middle of the day. Taking advantage of his absence, Marilyn packed everything she could and with her partner teacher, led their 25 students away from the only home they’d ever known. In the light of the afternoon sun the students and teachers walked four miles until they came upon a long, abandoned, mud building. Peering through one of the many doors that lined the hut, Marilyn discovered it was much like looking into a cave. The inside was dark and the air was damp. There were no windows, no electricity, no bathroom, no water of any kind, dirt floors, with small spears of light piercing the darkness through holes in the old, rusty metal roof. What was she going to do? A kind looking gentleman and a gruff looking, wild-haired woman approached the worried teachers and their exhausted students. After some negotiation, the old man and his wife agreed to rent the dilapidated building to Marilyn at a reasonable price. Unpacking began and soon the two rooms on each end of the building were designated as the dormitory rooms, boys on one end, girls on the other. The two middle rooms became classrooms leaving only a small space for each teacher. School was back in session.
All was not smooth sailing, however. Marilyn was on her own in an unfamiliar place, conditions were primitive, and she was now a teacher/mother to 25 teenagers. She was also receiving threatening messages from the Director she’d left behind. He found subtle ways to instill fear into the students and teachers. He attacked her confidence and caused her to doubt her ability. Finally, when he went as far as sending one of his workers to lie in wait for the opportunity to run Marilyn off the road; she’d had enough! She rallied the students and together they began to pray as they never had before, asking God to put the “devil” behind them! Those dark days soon faded as their prayers were answered and the threats stopped. The challenges however, kept right on coming. Marilyn was quickly learning that starting a school literally from the dirt up entailed much more than just buying books. Basic things like pots and pans, mattresses, food, and kerosene lamps needed to bring light to their dark rooms, were just the beginning. Her dwindling savings account was a reminder of the enormity of this undertaking. On top of that, the landlord was unable to make the needed improvements so Marilyn found herself building a latrine, patching holes, AND teaching the students! It soon became clear, that if she was truly going to establish a school she had to have more space! Marilyn didn’t know how she’d find her way; but God had been her light in the dark many times before and she had faith He’d show her the way this time, too.
~copyright Living Hope High School, Bungoma Kenya
Matthew 5:16 (NIV)