Moja Tu

Remembering Franklin: Gone but never forgotten

Remembering Franklin: Gone but never forgotten

Franklin during a trip.

When you mention Franklin’s name at Moja Tu, you are guaranteed to hear praises about him. He was courageous, kind, joyful, hopeful, and he valued education. Franklin joined Moja Tu in 2018 after completing his primary education. His impressive grades secured him a chance to join Njabini Boys High School, but unfortunately, his family couldn’t afford to pay his school fees.

During a visit to Kenya, Kathy and the Moja Tu team interviewed Franklin and determined he was eligible for sponsorship. During this time, he had been having pain in his leg. Moja Tu coordinated a series of medical checkups and Franklin was diagnosed with Sarcoma Osteoporosis (bone cancer). Unfortunately, the cancer had spread, and one of his legs had to be amputated. His courage and resiliency inspired everyone while he was undergoing chemotherapy.

After battling cancer for almost a year, Franklin sadly succumbed to the disease in 2019. Yet, even in death, he continues to inspire those that had the opportunity to spend time with him. As Michael Bailey, Edwin, and David agree, Franklin might be gone but never forgotten.

Michael Bailey, Moja Tu sponsor, and board member

Franklin with Kathy during the trip to Masai Mara.

Michael’s first met Franklin when the school administrator from Njabini recommended this bright student as a candidate for sponsorship.

The school administrator at Njabini brought Franklin to Dream Children’s Home while we were doing student interviews looking for new candidates. She mentioned that he was a good student but had some medical issues. So after Kathy and I interviewed him, we immediately said we’d help him with school, but first, we needed to get his leg looked at by specialists,” Michael states.

One thing that impressed Michael about Franklin was how much he valued education and performed well despite being sick. “The first thing that struck me was how earnest he was and how important school was to him. Then, I was more amazed at how good his marks were, considering the pain in his leg. The best way I can put it is that he was such an incredible soul that we knew we had to help him,” he recalls.

Michael describes Franklin as gracious and giving. He remembers how, even though Franklin was going through chemotherapy, he continued to press Michael on the possible opportunity for David to be granted sponsorship for university.

It says a lot about a person when they are feeling their worst that their first instinct is to want help for someone else,” he says.

School was so important to Franklin, he wanted to return to school during his treatment. His passion for learning was evident as he tutored the primary students from Dream despite his condition. “His giving nature and determination to persevere and get back to school was admirable,” Michael adds.

When Franklin passed on, Moja Tu created the Education Rainbow Fund in his honor. His amazingly bright light deeply touched those around Franklin and that’s what inspired this new educational fund. The funds go toward helping students achieve their dreams of getting an education by paying for school fees as well as ancillary expenses, including medical, vision, hearing, counseling, school supplies, clothes, and textbooks.

While ultimately, we couldn’t save Franklin, we decided we should use his inspiration to set up a fund to help other students like him. Students who are facing extreme challenges but who want to get an education above all else,” he says.

Michael’s favorite moments were the weekly Skype calls with Franklin while he was undergoing treatment. The calls were always a great pleasure for both. Michael still remembers those conversations with fondness, despite Franklin losing his battle with cancer.

Franklin exhibited a commitment to education and service to others above himself. These qualities are what Michael and Kathy want all students to emulate, which lead them to introduce the Franklin Award. The award is given to students who demonstrate the qualities of being selfless while helping others.

Franklin’s light continues to shine, and he inspires Michael to continue working to make the world a better place. “Franklin’s spirit lives on through Moja Tu, and he continues to be a role model to us all. His memory reminds us to seize life with both hands and strive to make the world around us a better place, even when we are struggling ourselves,” he concludes.

David, Bachelor of Computer Studies

Franklin and David.

David is a senior at Kenyatta University. His friendship with Franklin began in 2018 just after Franklin came to Dreams Children’s Home to apply for sponsorship with Moja Tu. After Franklin was diagnosed with cancer, he started living at Dream Children’s Home to have easier access to his chemotherapy sessions. David volunteered to care for Franklin and that’s where their friendship grew. At the time, David had just finished his secondary examinations and was waiting to see if he would get the sponsorship necessary to begin university.

David remembers Franklin as being selfless, brave, and kind. “Franklin was selfless, joyful, funny, kind, strong, and had a charming smile. He always hoped everything would be alright despite the hurdles he was encountering. I remember he used to tell me we would play sports together once he healed, which was before his leg got amputated. He always loved sports, especially sprint racing, so having his leg amputated was a big loss,” David recalls.

David reveals that Franklin never lost hope through his battle with cancer. On the contrary, he was hopeful he would return to school and always felt excited when he and David would talk about anything related to his studies.

While Franklin was undergoing treatment, David took him to the chemotherapy sessions and would stay with him throughout the entire session, which took most of the day. He also laundered his clothes, took care of any needs, and helped him take his medication.

As his condition grew worse, Kathy and the team visited Kenya. Kathy wanted to do something special for Franklin, and when she asked what he wanted, Franklin requested that it would be his joy to see David continue with his studies. David was accepted to Kenyatta University, but the children’s home could not afford the school fees without a sponsorship. Moja Tu stepped in to help.

I was so excited about this opportunity, and I cannot thank him enough for helping me join the university. I will always treasure him and remember him for his kindness and humanity,” says David

While living with Franklin, David learned some great life lessons, such as being kind, grateful, and optimistic. David was among the first students to receive the Franklin award. When receiving the award, he felt emotional at the reminders of the moments he shared with Franklin, both the fun times and difficult moments.

I proudly hung the award in my house, and I always feel very proud of myself for receiving it. It reminds me to be kind and hopeful at all times. The Franklin Award represents my fighting spirit encouraging me to keep moving forward despite the hurdles that may come my way. May his courageous soul continue resting in peace. I celebrate him.”

Edwin, Director of Programs and Operations, Moja Tu

Edwin first met Franklin during the high school tutoring program at Dreams Children’s Home. After a few interactions, their friendship began.

From the first time we interacted, I knew he was special. He had an ever-present contagious smile despite the tough time he was going through,” he recalls.

Edwin describes Franklin as determined, hardworking, a fighter, and someone who didn’t give up despite how tough it got.

At one point, he shared his story with me. He had just completed primary school and had been invited to join Njabini High School. Considering his impoverished background, there was no way his family could afford the secondary school fees. This did not deter him from pursuing his dream of getting admitted to the school. He asked his aunt for $10 to use for transportation to the school. His plan was to head to the school even though he didn’t have the necessary requirements for reporting to school. He went to the school, anyway, met with the principal and plead for assistance. All he had was his KCPE results slip and the admission letter,” Edwin narrates.

Edwin learned from Franklin to always wear a smile no matter how tough things are. He also learned the joy of giving back. Franklin would create time to tutor class 8 students from Dream Children’s Home, even at his most difficult moments.

Edwin received the Franklin Scholar of the Year award in 2019, and this award reminds him of the impact that Franklin had on his life.

The accolade I received is always a reminder of how Franklin impacted my life in the short time we were together. He may be departed but we are forever together,” he concludes.

Read Franklin’s story of inspiration and hope. Help us Power the Education Rainbow by donating today!

 

Joy Katanu