FAQs

Light of Hope Kenya students love each other like sisters

Why girls? Why Light of Hope? Your questions, answered.

We often receive questions about intergenerational poverty in Africa and our commitment to breaking that cycle through Light of Hope Home & School. Why girls? Why us?

We invite you to explore our answers to these questions.

Thank you for your interest in our work to educate girls in Kenya.

About Light of Hope

Who started Light of Hope?

Together, as husband and wife, Boni and Sandy Karanja share a desire to bring hope and restoration to homeless and abandoned girls in Kenya.

Motivated by their Christian faith, the Karanjas seek to stand in the gap, to be the voice of those who’ve been forgotten.

They have been privileged to witness the fruits of their labor, and of many others who’ve supported this mission, through the smiles on the faces of so many girls.

From the birth of Light of Hope in their hearts, and through each amazing stage of its growth, Sandy and Boni pray that the home and school will leave a legacy for generations to come.

Read Boni and Sandy's story

What is Light of Hope’s mission?

Many of the girls that arrive at our gates have been orphaned, abused, and abandoned. As a result, the opportunity to pursue an education has been lost to them.

Without intervention, they would be destined to repeat the same cycle of poverty and despair.

In a part of the world too often defined by hardship, we offer an oasis of optimism and faith. Given the opportunity to learn and heal, these girls will be empowered to break free and create change in their own communities.

Light of Hope provides refuge, restoration, and redirection for lost and homeless girls in Kenya by offering shelter, education, and counseling in a supportive family environment.

Why girls?

In Kenya, as in most developing countries, the education of girls is undervalued. Even when girls have the opportunity to be educated, they face overwhelming barriers when attempting to complete their studies – many are related to gender inequality.

Some girls will be denied their education and forced into early marriage to prevent them from bringing shame to their family through early, unintended pregnancy. (Child marriage is thought, by some, to be the best way to prevent shame and preserve traditions.) Some girls will be expected to take on household responsibilities, such as cooking, cleaning, and caring for young children, when their parents become sick, while their brothers advance their educations. Meanwhile, others simply lack access to an education due to extreme poverty.

While virtually all Kenyan girls enroll in primary school, approximately 65% will drop out before completing Standard 8, according to the Forum for African Women Educationalists.

If we reverse this trend, we can make a big impact.

The World Food Programme has found that a girl’s income increases by 10 to 20% for each year of primary school she attends. For each year of secondary school, her income climbs another 15 to 25%.

Not only do educated girls earn more, they make healthier life decisions: they delay marriage, have fewer children, receive more frequent health care, and invest in the health, nutrition, and education of their own children.

When you consider that girls and women invest 90% of their wages in their families, while men invest between 30 and 40%, the answer to the question, “Why girls” becomes clear.

In short, educated girls are the ladder that allows whole communities to climb out of poverty.

If you’d like to know more about the importance of investing in girls to fight global poverty, we encourage you to watch Girl Effect:

Watch The Girl Effect video

Is Light of Hope a registered non-profit?

Yes. Light of Hope is a project of Lighthouse Ministries International, which is a registered 501(c)(3).

All donations are tax deductible.

What is a Friend of Light of Hope?

Many of our Sustaining Donors began their connection with Light of Hope because they were moved by the background or personality of one of the girls. As a result, they wish for the opportunity to develop and maintain a personal relationship with that girl. They want to know how she’s doing, what she is becoming, is their help making a difference.

This is an important need and it is not as easily met as it may sound: the Kenyan postal system has limitations; email is not really practical; and the girls need protection from unsolicited or random external communication.

To meet this need, Light of Hope created a unique communication opportunity called the Friends of Light of Hope program. Two or three times a year, Sustaining Donors who wish to participate are invited to write a letter to one or more of the girls. These letters are collected and personally delivered to the school by one of the mission trip groups who travel to Light of Hope each year to help. In turn, the girls are invited to write letters to their Friends and their letters are brought home and delivered.

Because of this program, the girls at Light of Hope better understand and appreciate the friends who support them; they are becoming excellent communicators themselves; and, they are made more and more aware, through every letter, of how important their lives and futures are.

Light of Hope Home and School

How are girls selected?

Light of Hope offers support to girls who are most in need; many of whom share a common history of abuse, abandonment, poverty, and disease.

The girls are referred to us through a number of sources, including:

  • Family connections and personal requests, including parents who are often dying of HIV complications and grandparents or extended family facing extreme financial hardship
  • Government agencies and District Children’s Officers
  • A local safe house
  • Good Samaritans

We review each referral using an evaluation process already in place and conduct a structured investigation through our Light of Hope social worker.

How do you select Light of Hope staff?

Light of Hope employs teachers and staff from across Kenya.

All teachers have received a degree in education, and all teachers and staff members go through numerous interviews and undergo background checks prior to their employment.

What’s the difference between day scholars and residents?

A Light of Hope resident lives and attends school on campus.

Light of Hope day scholars live in the community or neighboring town and attend school at Light of Hope. Some of the girls walk as many as five miles each day to receive their education at Light of Hope, where they also receive a hot meal and snack/tea.

Approximately 75% of our girls are residents and 25% are day scholars.

How many girls are served by Light of Hope?

As of Spring 2014, we serve 86 girls, including:

  • 44 resident scholars
  • 19 day scholars
  • 19 high school students
  • 4 vocational school students

Light of Hope girls

Do girls ever visit their families?

Most of our residents consider Light of Hope home – often because they have no living parents or extended family able to care for them.

Some girls do have one living parent, siblings, or a non-parental caregiver, in most cases a grandmother. Light of Hope assists these girls in remaining connected with their families and they’re encouraged to visit in safe environments during school breaks and vacation.

How long does Light of Hope support the girls?

When a girl is brought to Light of Hope as a resident, Light of Hope becomes her legal guardian and is solely responsible for her educational, medical, dental, and emotional needs.

Light of Hope has committed to caring for each resident through her high school education, and plans to support girls who seek university education, as well.

Secondary education (Grade 9 – University) is supported by the Elimu Foundation.

Donations/Financials

Why should I donate or fundraise for Light of Hope?

Light of Hope is supported 100% by voluntary donations.

By supporting Light of Hope Home & School, you not only help provide for the livelihood of the girls, you also contribute to the funding of teachers and staff, construction and maintenance of infrastructure, and expansions of our campus and facilities, which, in turn, allows us to welcome more girls who desperately need the services that Light of Hope provides.

Where does my money go?

Direct donations, including those from our sustaining donors and Friends of Light of Hope, go to our general fund, which supports the direct and indirect needs of our girls, including:

  • food
  • clothing
  • shelter
  • medical care
  • teacher and staff salaries
  • school supplies
  • utilities
  • general maintenance
  • animal care

Capital improvement project donations are earmarked for building and infrastructure projects exactly as defined on our website.

Learn about funding opportunities

Where does your funding come from?

We receive funding from individual, church, and business contributions, grants, and fundraising events.

Here’s a breakdown of our 2013 revenue:

Individual & business contributions: 69.3%

  • One-time charity event recipient: 39.7%
  • Donations to dedicated funds: 30.6%
  • Donations to our general operating fund: 23.8%
  • Grants: 5.9%

Fundraising income: 30.7%

  • Annual Shine a Light of Hope Gala: 64.8%
  • International Day of the Girl event:19.2%
  • Party with a Purpose: 8.4%
  • Walk for Hope/Mission Festival: 7.5%

What is your donor privacy policy?

Light of Hope Home and School for Girls (LOH) maintains the highest level of respect for the privacy of its donors. The following is our donor privacy policy, which guides our volunteers and staff on how they may and may not use your personal information while honoring your rights as a donor.

LOH collects and uses personal information from donors that includes: name, address, telephone number, email address, and donor comments when a donor voluntarily provides it to us. In addition, LOH keeps a record of each donor’s giving history. This information is kept on file for IRS purposes and is also used in our development process to analyze overall giving patterns in order to make accurate budget projections.

LOH does not sell, trade, rent or share names, addresses, telephone numbers, or e-mail addresses of our donors. LOH will use contact information (e-mail, telephone number, and address) of donors for the following purposes only:

  • Distribute receipts for donations
  • Thank donors for their donation
  • Inform donors about news, upcoming fundraising events and other activities of LOH
  • Internal analysis and record keeping
  • Reporting to relevant U.S. and State agencies (not for public inspection)
  • Contact donors about changes to this policy

If you have questions about this Donor Privacy Policy or if you wish to be removed from our e-mail/postal contact lists, please send an email to info@lightofhopekenya.org.

Can I see your financials?

Want to see where our money comes from? And, where your contributions go?

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