The gift that never stops giving
When Paula Juba first heard about Moja Tu, she was taken in with the sponsorship model that directly impacted the lives of the children she sponsored. Nine years later, Paula is still going strong, and she says she is not going to stop any time soon. Paula tells us what keeps her coming back to sponsor more students.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m an elderly volunteer with Moja Tu. I’ve been to Kenya two times, and I get more out of it than my students do. I love riding horses, I’ve been in the army, and I’ve lived pretty much all over. I’m from New Jersey but living in Texas now. I get a lot of personal satisfaction out of making a difference to a handful of students in Kenya. And that handful, I think, will go on to impact a handful, and it will snowball. So I find it very rewarding.
Tell us about the children you sponsor?
I currently sponsor four students. Grace is almost done with university. She is a star student. She’s so bright and so much more mature than I was at her age. She’s studying flora culture. She wants to work for a floriculture company in Israel because that’s where many of the flowers from Nairobi are shipped. I encourage her to take more business classes, accounting, marketing, and analytics. Then there are Vivian, Daniel, and Edwin, who are all in high school.
You have sponsored two other students who have since graduated from college. Do you still keep in touch with them?
Yes, I do. One of my former sponsored students that I took a special interest in is Kelvin, who lives with a hearing impairment. My mother went deaf, so I’m familiar with the special problems of deaf people. Because I was sponsoring Kelvin, I started to take sign language classes to communicate better with him when I went to Kenya. Then there’s Doris, who was not my student, but I met her through Kelvin. She is proficient in sign language, and she served as an interpreter.
How do you communicate with your sponsor children?
Through emails, letters, and the occasional video calls.
And why is it vital for you to communicate with them as often as possible?
It’s important because I want to know what they’re doing. I want to encourage them. I want them to know that I care about them. So, for example, I got to learn that Vivian was disappointed in her grades; I used the opportunity to assure her that while grades were necessary, she shouldn’t put all her focus on them.
What do you like about the Moja Tu model?
The beauty of Moja Tu is that its mission is so clear. I also find that the person-to-person aid model is sustainable and has a far-reaching impact. When you provide education to one person, you’re not just affecting that one person. You’re affecting that person’s entire family. You’re impacting all the friends of that person. You’re affecting all the other people who will have contact with that person in years to come. So that’s why I think Moja Tu is such a brilliant, clear, yet simple concept. And, of course, it’s great to visit Kenya, not as a tourist, but to visit as someone with a connection to the country.
So what does the sponsorship provide?
The sponsorship provides education. It, of course, includes money, but the money is used 100% for education. And these are kids who are at the top of their class. These are ambitious kids. It also caters to university students living expenses. Regular communication provides encouragement and a sense that someone cares and is looking out for them.
How long have you been a sponsor, and what are some of the best memories with your sponsored children now that you’ve visited them before?
I’ve been a sponsor for nine years. Grace and Doris were was still in high school. And my best memories, of course, have been visiting Kenya. The first time was great, and the second time, I spent a lot more time with the kids.
You still support Kelvin even though he is done with his tertiary education. Why did you feel compelled to do so?
I’m continuing to support him because I love him. He worked as a stonemason far from Nairobi, which was a callous work. I am providing for him a temporary bridge until he can stand on his own. In liaison with the program management in Kenya, we could secure him a job in the outskirts of Nairobi. Now, he is working as a chef, and during his free time, he teaches sign language and soccer.
What keeps you going in the sponsorship program?
Again, I do this for personal and selfish motives. But, seeing other people and knowing that I’ve been a small part of helping them achieve is what keeps me coming back to Moja Tu. I want to see the kids succeed. I want to see people reach their full potential and make a difference in the lives of others.
Why should people donate to Moja Tu?
There is a lot of return on investment at Moja Tu. You can provide a year’s worth of education for a student who will go on to do something great with his life or her life. That’s it!