A mission trip to Kenya convinced a family from Bearden to support Child Aid Africa. The organization seeks sponsors for orphans smart enough for high school success who don't have the money to go.
Here in the United States every kid has the opportunity to go to school. But that's not true in some other countries.
An event tonight will help smart students in Kenya go to high school, their only chance to go on to college.
Help smart kids go to school in Kenya. http://childaidafrica.org/ by Emily Stroud and Brian Holt
"Punda means donkey and jambo means hello," Hank Johnson said.
The nine year old and his family learned a little Swahili. And they learned a lot about another culture during their 16 day mission trip to Africa.
"For a few weeks we got to go around to different schools. We went to an elephant orphanage, went to a giraffe sanctuary, we then we went to a baby orphanage and we got to hold the babies and feed them," Hank recalled.
They traveled from Bearden to Kenya and met orphans in rundown elementary schools as part of Child Aid Africa.
"What Child Aid Africa does is identify top students who just won't be able to go on any further," his father Jonathan Johnson said.
His mother Betsy Johnson said, "They know the importance of having an education."
Betsy and Jonathan embraced the organization's mission. They are sponsoring a high school student in Kenya.
"His name is Kelvin. We wanted to find someone in 9th grade so we could sponsor him all four years going through high school," Betsy said. "He packed his bags which took about two minutes, packed all his belongings and we were able to go back in the van and take him to school."
Jonathan said, "We were able to talk to him and ask him what does this mean to you, this opportunity, and he started crying."
He started boarding school where he has food to eat and electricity to light his way for studying and an opportunity to succeed.
"These are kids who are smart kids, they're hard working, they're not looking for a hand out," Jonathan said.
Kelvin has four years of hard work ahead of him.
"Most of these kids, since they are picking top students, will actually earn scholarships on to college," he said.
The poverty he saw inspired Hank to help.
"I saw a lot of people running around barefoot or in sandals," Hank said.
He enlisted his brother Baxter to help him organize a shoe drive at Webb school. He made a speech. He collected 200 pairs of shoes for Child Aid Africa.
Betsy and Jonathan felt called to convince people to sponsor children like Kelvin so they organized a fundraiser at Cherokee Country Club featuring authentic African jewelry, dinner, Christian music, a silent auction, and a guest speaker from Kenya.
"The main important thing of this whole event is to raise money and to find sponsors. And we have 43 kids who we have pictures of that will be sponsored, or hope people will sponsor them, in their education," Betsy said.
At 6:00 tonight, November 14, you can attend "Burgers and Blessings" at Cherokee Country Club for Child Aid Africa.
You can also sponsor a child directly through Child Aid Africa.