Within a few hours we’d unfortunately received word that the Ukwala High School in Nyanza Province had suffered from a major fire in the student dorm on Monday. Fortunately no one was hurt but Pius Onyango Mbeka studies there. Pius (now 18) lived with his mother and brothers and sisters in Kano, Kisumu. Two of Pius’ siblings became ill and passed away then his mother became sick and died so in 2004, Pius and the remaining siblings were taken to stay with their Aunt who could only manage to enrol them in child labour. Pius studied on his own time and was re-enrolled for exams where he scored well. Despite his efforts he could not afford to attend secondary school due to costs.

[Pius frying chips by the roadside, 2004].

We heard about Pius from a volunteer in 2007 and found a sponsor almost immediately. In 2009 another, very active volunteer, Simon, asked to help and they even managed to meet each other in 2009 while Simon cycled down through Africa with Tour d’Afrique. The money he raised doing this has paid for Pius’ education so far.

Guardian, Edward, has been with Pius today as the school was forced to close while repairs were made. Edward, in mourning for the loss of his own brother this week, is already relieved for Pius, now beaming from the news that Simon can provide the chance to replace all personal belongings lost in the fire. Every child lost mattresses, shoes, blankets, bedsheets, towels, uniform, books, even food and their pocket money, none of which will be replaced by the school as there are no such funds or insurance policies in rural Kenya. Ukwala High School will replace the beds in the dormitory and is reopening Monday hopefully, although the beds may take a while to arrive.

I’d like to thank Simon for his continued support and compassion (he’ll be ducking behind his monitor right now 😉 but also to mention that unfortunately there are many other children at Ukwala who will not be as lucky as Pius, unless you can help?