Our Story

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Our Light of Hope story.

Against the backdrop of extreme poverty, in a place where girls are marginalized and abused, our story emerges as one of hope, faith, and the truest expression of love.

Follow our journey.

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Sandy Karanja

Sandy grew up in Minnesota, and from a very early age, she felt drawn to Africa; perhaps the seed had been planted when she listened to African missionaries speak at her church.

Years later, after returning from her first mission trip to Guatemala, she felt called to serve in Kenya.

Meanwhile, driven by her own life experiences, she discovered a passion for helping those who faced significant challenges in their lives – especially girls. She began volunteering as a mentor for Teen Challenge, became an advocate for pregnant teens, worked in special education, and served as a student job coach.

Her work fueled a desire to do even more.

It was then that Sandy began to envision a home for girls in Minnesota, though, as she considered the idea, she always felt something wasn’t quite “on the mark.”

Then, on a silent retreat immediately after meeting Boni for the very first time, Sandy felt called to bring the school she had dreamt of to Kenya.

While deep in prayer, she found inspiration in these three words:

Refuge, Restoration, and Redirection.

These words are now the very mission of Light of Hope.

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Boniface Karanja

Boni was born in Naivasha, Kenya, an area well known as a flower producer and tourist destination. Sadly, it was – and is – also known for its poverty, thriving red light district, and high incidences of rape and abuse of young girls.

Despite the challenges of single parenthood, Boni’s mom was committed to leading her six children along a different path.

For 28 years, she traveled between Nairobi and Naivasha to purchase used clothes, which she resold in her community to support her children’s educations and basic needs.

As the oldest of the six, Boni felt compelled to take his studies seriously, give back to his family, and ease his mother’s burden.

When he finished high school, Boni moved to the Kibera slum, attended Kenya Shipping and Freight College, and began working in Nairobi to help support his five brothers’ and sisters’ educations.

While struggling to make ends meet in 1998, Boni pursued an opportunity in Minnesota, which allowed him to financially support his family while also serving as an ambassador for the poor in Kenya.

Boni courageously left everything he’d ever known behind. A man of faith, he believed his journey would be rewarded.

Immediately after settling into his new home in Minnesota, Boni searched for a place of worship.

He found Living Waters Church – and Sandy.

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The Karanjas & Light of Hope

After their initial meeting, Boni and Sandy spoke often. They talked about Kenya and Boni’s desire to help the family he had left back home, about the importance of education, and the desire to give back.

Together, they believed they could make a difference.

They became best friends and, soon after, fell in love and married.

Boni and Sandy took their honeymoon in Kenya and, while there, they began searching for land where their dream could take root.

When they returned to Minnesota, they started Lighthouse Ministries International, a 501(c)(3) organization, and began raising funds to purchase property for Light of Hope Home & School.

Finally, in 2006, their labor of love became a reality.

With only a temporary building, Boni and Sandy took in three vulnerable girls and gave them hope and healing.

Today, they serve more than 100 future leaders.