The Edmond Sun

September 20, 2013

Kenyan ministry brings education to children

Mark Schlachtenhaufen
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — If you would like to sponsor an orphaned or destitute child in Kenya, help build a school for them or go on a mission trip, an Edmond-based ministry can help.

Robert and Eunice Menja, who met in Kenya, created Upendo Kids International. The nonprofit organization serves orphans and destitute children in their homeland.

Kenya, located in East Africa, borders Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Before 2007, it was one of Africa’s success stories, a fledgling democracy enjoying economic growth. That year, following a disputed presidential election, violence broke out on a national scale.

Kenya’s current population is 35.5 million, and 75-80 percent of the people live in rural areas, according to UNICEF. With more than half of its population less than age 15, the nation faces a high dependency burden, which places pressing demands on social services including education and health care.

Furthermore, more than half of the country’s people live below the poverty line on less than $1 a day. The most vulnerable are families and children living in the urban slums, in the arid lands of northern Kenya and in areas most affected by HIV. These are also the areas with high child mortality and low enrollment in school.

It is against this backdrop that Upendo Kids International, a faith-based ministry, serves Kenyan children.

Upendo helps more than 60 Kenyan children attend school, and it has established the Juja (located northeast of Nairobi) Upendo Children’s Home, which continues to grow, Eunice Menja said. It soon will be opening a school where children can receive high-quality education, Menja said.

Currently, 30 children ages 3-13 live at the Juja Upendo Children’s home, Menja said. Funds are needed to give the children the desired education, which benefits so many children in the U.S. and in other developed nations.

The Menjas are active members of the First Presbyterian Church of Edmond, which provides a variety of support to Upendo Kids International, Menja said. Support comes from other sources including a parish in Juja. Other partner opportunities are available.

At 5 p.m. Sunday, First Presbyterian, at 1001 S. Rankin St., six blocks south of the University of Central Oklahoma, is hosting an Upendo kids sponsor night and dinner in the Yinger Youth Center. If you sponsor a child in Kenya through the organization or are interested in doing so, you can hear about the Upendo kids and sponsorship opportunities, Menja said.

“They will get to connect with their chid,” she said.

Guests will also hear inspiring stories about the recent summer trip to Kenya, Eunice said. In December, missionaries will return to Juja to share Christmas with the children, Menja said. Another mission trip is planned for the coming summer, and missionary opportunities are available.

To RSVP for Sunday’s sponsor night and dinner, call 408-8868 so planners can have enough food prepared. For more information about Upendo Kids International, visit | 341-2121, ext. 108