The results are in!
The Form 4 Starfish have excelled on their KCSE (college entrance exams), with Joshua Kilonzo finishing with the 8th highest score in the country.
The Form 4 Starfish spent the 4th quarter of 2011 (as well as the prior 4 years) studying for this KCSE exam. We are so proud of them for all they have accomplished and for the diligence they are showing in their studies and preparation. Also, former Starfish John Nzioka spent three weeks in the U.S.A. in December. He spent a good amount of time meeting with Starfish President Peter Kingston and along with Grace Wambui and Alfonce Nzioka, brainstormed and laid out plans and visions for the future of Starfish Africa. Grace, Alfonce and John also visited the headquarters of Apple, Facebook and Google while visiting Palo Alto, CA.
We are excited to welcome Grace and Alfonce to the US this August. Grace will be a freshman at Harvard University, while Alfonce is pursuing gap year studies at Deerfield Academy. These students pursued these endeavors on their own, and the Starfish Africa Board is impressed that these students were able to find opportunities in the United States. We are even more excited for them to return to Kenya as stronger leaders because of these experiences!
Another Bank Internship
Congratulations to Evelyn Sarah for earning a spot with Standard Chartered Bank for her gap year work!
Starfish Continue to Succeed
The 2010 KCSE results were recently released. Congrats to Bilha and Wayne for receiving an A. Two students received an A-, four received a B+, and one a B.
Our partner schools continue to perform well in the national rankings with six of our schools in the top 10. The top three schools were: Alliance High School, Previous Blood Riruta, and Bahati Girls.
Also, eight of our nine students from the Class of 2009 have been accepted to various Kenyan universities through the Higher Education Loans Board.
Form 4 Starfish students begin their KCSE exams on November 21st. We will be praying for their success on these final exams!
Graduates Gain Work Experience
As our recent Form 4 graduates await admission to university, many of them are pursuing internship programs or additional studies. The updates are below:
- Grace started an internship with Equity Bank in Nairobi.
- Doreen is working at Karen Hospital.
- Stella received a scholarship at Strathmore University to study Business Administration.
- Winnie started a short term law course.
- Quinter recently completed a computer course and has a clerical job with the local city council.
- Ebere is working with the Ministry of Livestock.
- Damaris is doing a computer course and pursuing a music career, publishing her first CD titled “Niguze Tena” and also releasing a music video. The music video can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hY7zc6FrWoA
- Alfonce continues to pursue studies at Starehe.
- Kennedy Kahura is currently studying at Strathmore University pursuing Actuarial Science
Giving Back in Ajpril
After completing their first term of the new school year, Starfish Africa students joined together in April for a break activity. Students participated in camp activities at AIC Diguna, attended Easter church services at Mavuno and Mamlaka Hill, and volunteered at the Nyumbani Children’s Home. At Nyumbani, the students assisted with gardening, cleaning, and cooking. There was also time to interact with the orphans, many of whom are suffer from HIV/AIDS.
In 2009, nine students graduated high school, and we welcomed 11 new students into the program. Starfish Africa students participated in three break activities throughout the year, joined by board members Carrie and Peter Kingston in April and Brian Mickus in August. To learn more about 2009 happenings, please check out our annual report: 2009 Starfish Africa Annual Report.
Starfish Student is #1 on National Exam
Congratulations to Grace Wambui who earned the top girl spot in Kenya on the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exam! Doreen Ochieng took the 4th spot. Both ladies studied at Moi Girls in Eldoret. Six of our other students received an A on this national exam. Overall, four of the ten Starfish taking the exam finished in the top 100 scores in the country.
2010 Student Selections
After reviewing numerous applications, the Board has selected a new group of eleven students for the Class of 2013. We are excited to have these outstanding students join our growing Starfish family.
Starfish end year on high note
The Starfish joined together for the third break activity of the year, a week-long camp at Diguna. As always, the Starfish shared how valuable it was to reunite during the break and to participate in the larger Diguna camp. Mercy wrote:
"For once I took a chance and was brave enough to stand in front of an audience and present something. Hey! I really am proud of that. I count it as an achievement. I was then given a responsibility to teach -- a poem I’d written. I think I did a good job."
Congratulations to the Class of 2009
Congratulations to the Starfish Africa Class of 2009! All nine Starfish in Form 4 graduated from secondary school and sat for their KCSE (Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education) exam, the results of which will be available in early 2010. We are currently attempting to establish a gap year program to continue their academic and leadership development as they prepare for university.
5,000 and counting...
Mike Gallagher raised over $5,000 for Starfish Africa, exceeding his lofty goal in the final days before the Marine Corps Marathon. Thank you, Mike -- your efforts have transformed the life of a talented Kenyan student. Our other 2009 racers brought in another $5,000, and devoted runners Stef and Char Zacharkiw
are continuing to raise money to meet their $5,000 goal.
First day of university
Starfish graduates, Collins '07 and John '07, began their long-awaited university studies this month. John will be studying medicine at the University of Nairobi and Collins is studying tourism and management at Kenyatta University.
Starfish learn how to surf
The Starfish gathered during August's school holiday in Nairobi and attended a week-long computer camp. This exposure to computers is critical for the Starfish and is a recurring tradition for Starfish Africa. The new Form 1 Starfish get introductory classes in computing and internet/email, while the veteran Starfish continue to progress with classes covering Microsoft Office. In the past few days, the Starfish have emailed several times.
David Gitari emailed: "At [camp], we are learning lots of new things, which are not in our school lessons. Thank you for all you have done to make this a reality."
And Muuo emailed: "I am going on well in the camp...I have learned much more about computers. By the end of the week I will know a lot."
Running 4 Starfish Africa
Several wonderful Friends of Starfish Africa and two Board Members are running marathons this fall and raising money for Starfish Africa. Each participant has set the same ambitious fundraising goal: $5,000! Track our runners and donate to their fundraising campaigns on their individual R4SA pages. Stay tuned for updates! Interested in running on behalf of SA and joining the fun? Email Carrie
Stef and Char Zacharkiw
Team Starfish places 2nd, raises $1,500
Team Starfish competed in the world famous Camp Pendleton Mud Run, a grueling 10K that features river crossings, obstacles, a lake swim, and a 10-meter long mud pit. The team, consisting of Jesse Burdick, Jeff Kingston, Pete Kingston, Kyle Offenbacher, and J.T. Pruitt, edged out a competitor for second place (see photo below). More importantly, the team raised over $1,500 for Starfish Africa.
From Naroosura to Rocky Face
Patrick and Catherine Minor spent several days in April assisting Starfish Africa's service project in Naroosura, Kenya. They were so touched by the Starfish -- and impressed with them -- that they hosted a fundraiser night in Rocky Face, Georgia upon return home. They and their generous friends contributed $1,000 -- enough to sponsor one of our talented but needy Starfish at an elite Kenyan secondary school for an entire year. Thank you, Patrick and Catherine!
Peter and Carrie Kingston return from Kenya
Board Members Peter and Carrie Kingston returned from three incredible weeks in Kenya. Their trip coincided with the Starfish Africa service project in Naroosura, and it also included 10 days of meetings with various partner organizations and conducting official SA business in the Nairobi area. For Carrie, who participated in a 2007 service project with the Classes of 2009 and 2010, it was a wonderful reunion with the older Starfish and a great chance to meet our two newest classes. For Peter, whose deployments to Iraq kept him from Kenya for several years, it was his first chance to meet the Starfish. By all accounts, it was a hugely successful trip and provided a lot of ideas for future SA opportunities.
Starfish make an impact in Naroosura
Nearly 40 Starfish drove six hours into the heart of Maasai-land to serve a small Kenyan village, Naroosura. The Starfish cleaned and painted the local dispensary, picked up trash in the market, and conducted outreach in the surrounding region. Their inspirational work became the talk of the village, and one resident was overheard commenting how it took 'strangers' from Nairobi to fix problems that had plagued the area for years. By the end of the week, the Starfish were hardly strangers -- the parents of the first child born in the dispensary's newly-painted maternity ward named their baby girl 'Starfish', a testament to our students' hard work.
Starfish Africa is thrilled to announce that Anne Stoehr has decided to join its Board of Directors. Anne has previously been instrumental as a volunteer advisor to Field Officer David Omondi in Kenya, and she is very well-versed in the Kenyan educational system and the challenges plaguing Kenya's high school students. To read more about Anne, please click here
. Welcome, Anne!
Ten wasn't good enough...
After tentatively concluding its selection process last month with ten new Form I Starfish, David Omondi was able to facilitate admission for an 11th top-notch student, Jane Soit, at Loreto Girls School - Limuru, a long-time SA Partner. Jane hails from outside of Narok, Kenya in Maasai-land, and her 399 KCPE score stands out as one of the best scores from her region. SA now currently sponsors a total of 38 students.
Former Starfish earn University admission
John Nzioka and Collins Ochieng, both former Starfish who graduated from secondary school in 2007 with stellar academic records, learned this month that they received admission to top universities. John, who currently serves as an SA assistant during his 21-month lull between high school and university, earned admission to the University of Nairobi Medical School. Collins earned admission to Kenyatta University. Both begin school in roughly October 2009.
SA selects ten new Starfish
Starfish Africa concluded its 2009 selection process, and the result was ten spectacular new Starfish in the Class of 2012. This brings the total number of Starfish currently sponsored to 37.
Highlights of the selection process include the addition of a new partner school, Limuru Girls High School, where new Starfish Yvonne and Clare are Form I students. Also, SA selected Gerald Muinde, who scored an incredible 447 out of 500 on his Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examination, one of the top scores in Kenya, at Lenana School.
Starfish Enjoy Diguna Camp
After a third and final term at their respective schools, the Starfish gathered at Diguna for their annual December camp. By all accounts, it was a great opportunity for fellowship and learning. Starfish Martine wrote:
"During the camp, I got the chance to listen to many speakers who talked to us from time to time, motivating us not to give up in any problem we encounter in life. The theme of the camp was 'maximizing our potential', and before the end of the camp, I had learnt how I can discover my potential, [and] maximize it...
"Above it all, before the end of the camp, through Mr. David Omondi, I discussed and got answers to many questions I had about life [and] issues about academics, and so I had guidelines on how to start my next year in school ready to improve on my academic performance."
SA Begins Selection for the Class of 2012
Field Officer David Omondi reports he and Administrative Assistant John Nzioka (SA '07) are extremely busy criss-crossing the nation to conduct interviews and home visits. They seek to narrow down the enormous applicant pool for the Starfish Africa Class of 2012 ahead of the KCPE results and Secondary School selection process. Starfish Africa aims to select another class of approximately 10 students in January 2009.
Second Term Results Have Arrived
Congratulations to the Starfish for continuing a tradition of academic excellence during the second term of 2008. Two Starfish who continue to show terrific progress are Winnie Waruguru, who ascended into the top quartile of her Precious Blood Form III class, and Ebere Fofen, who has shown constant improvement during Forms II and III, after making the giant leap from a district secondary school to the top-tier Nairobi School.
Starfish Give Back
The August "Starfish give back" school break activity took place in the Kajiado District which is located south of Nairobi, Kenya. Starfish students served their fellow Kenyans by digging trenches for local water pipes and after each hard day's work, Starfish tutored younger students at a local school in the area.
The students celebrated their hard work by heading to the hot springs at Lake Magadi for a fun night of fellowship and reflection. Read more about the August 2008 break activity in the Volume III, Issue III Starfish newsletter.
Letter from Joy, a Form One Starfish Student
Joy Muthoni (Starehe Girls)
This holiday I participated in the Ereteti community service. I would like
to take this opportunity to give my great appreciation to Starfish for
having planned for us this camp which I really enjoyed.
First of all, I learned new skills which I can apply in my daily life. I was
really glad to learn that I could still dig, especially a trench for piping
water to the Ereteti community after having stayed for a long time without
digging. Even though the work did not seem that easy, we really tried our
best and managed to finish digging. The work was really exciting and
Another thing is that we Starfish members were able to interact freely with
the Maasai community which lives there. I was able to learn their culture
which was very interesting. They were very nice and very caring to us. They
were always there for us and always guided us in the right way to follow.
We were also able to interact with the pupils from Ereteti Primary school
especially the class 8 candidates. We were able to advise them and give them
tips of studying.
The over night camp at Lake Magadi Hot Springs was the best -- we had fun and
ate a lot of nyama choma.
This was one of the most enjoyable camps I have ever attended. Thank you very
much. We thank David [David Omondi, SA field officer] for being such a
wonderful person to be around. He is more than a brother to us.
Strong MentorshipStarfish Africa is pleased to have come in contact with Lisa Yates. Lisa is living in Kenya and has volunteered her time to help establish a mentorship program for the Starfish. Eventually, this program hopes to put Starfish students in touch with Kenyan professionals in Nairobi by establishing partnerships with organizations in the city like the Nairobi Chapel, etc. Additionally, the program hopes to provide support and direction for Starfish early in their secondary education as they consider and plan to attend a university after they graduate from secondary school. The first fruits of this program will be realized in mid April when the Starfish will participate in a five-day computer course in Nairobi. S.A. is deeply indebted to Lisa for her help with this effort.
Support for Kenya from Springfield, OhioStarfish Africa recently established a relationship with and received significant support from Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in Springfield, OH. After a presentation was made to members on March 16th, many committed to providing financial support for S.A. This support is greatly appreciated and will fund the education of four Starfish on a going forward basis. We would like to give special thanks to Pastor Dan Powell, Mark Grimes, Pastor Beverly Debord and Hannah Powell for their leadership of this effort, and their initiation of this partnership. S.A. is continually seeking partners like this to support our mission in the future.
New Starfish SelectedSA selected 11 new students in January/February 2008, including nine Form I students (freshman) and two Form II students (sophomores). Of the 11 new students, seven are girls and four are boys. The students will be attending some of the highest quality schools in Kenya, where S.A. already has developed existing partnerships with administrators and teachers who are committed to serving our Starfish. Of note, Starfish began one new partnership in 2008 with Mangu High School, a top-10 national school located in Nairobi.
Worth the Wait
Due to the dedicated service of field officer David Omondi, all S.A.’s students are safely at school for the ’08 academic year. The conflict in Kenya displaced nine Starfish in January and early February and delayed those students’ return to school. Additionally, five of these nine students suffered the complete annihilation of their families’ possessions, homes included. Due to coordination facilitated by David and S.A., the month of February ended with all 27 Starfish safely enrolled at their designated schools, which is remarkable in light of the continuing unrest that plagued Kenya in early 2008.
Political Upheaval and Unrest in KenyaAs has been widely reported in the international news, the results of the closely contested December 27 presidential election in Kenya set off riotous events that have led to the death of more than 300 people and the displacement of at least 70,000 others within the country. As far as we know at this time, all of our Starfish students are providentially safe and none were hurt during these events, even though many of S.A.'s partner schools are located in and around Nairobi where a great deal of violence took place. As a result of the unrest, the start of the 2008 school year will be slightly delayed.
Safe and Sound
The completion of the Starfish Africa DVD was announced in October, and the video has now been posted online. The video is approximately seven minutes long, and explains the history and mission of S.A. The video also provides a chance to hear interviews with Starfish students and shows scenes from a recent service project that the Starfish undertook while on a recent school break. Please enjoy! (click on the image below to watch the video):
A Well-Deserved BreakAfter most Starfish showed strong academic performance during the '07 school year, all the Starfish students were invited to participate in a December break at the Diguna Camp near Nairobi, coinciding with their December Recess (as a reminder, Kenya's school year matches the calendar year, unlike the U.S.). Since two recess activities earlier in the year were service-oriented, this camp was meant to provide pure fun for the Starfish, including games, an essay contest and the opportunity to discuss various topics with professional counselors and mentors.
Please check back soon for pictures of this break activity.
Starfish Africa's First GraduatesCollins and John completed their secondary school careers during November 2007 in a landmark event for S.A. Both Form IV students sat for the KCSE during the month to cap stellar four-year performances at Chianda School and Nairobi School, respectively. KCSE results arrive in early 2008; in the meantime, both individuals will be assisting with the selection process for the Class of 2011. Way to go, Collins and John!
2007 Fundraising Campaign Has Begun
Starfish Africa has set a 2007 fundraising target of $40,000. This goal will fund the current students as well as up to 20 new students in January 2008. A donation of $200 would pay for a student's books for a year, a donation of $500 would pay for half of a year of tuition, $1,000 would pay for a full year of tuition, and $4,000 would pay for a student's entire high school education. Starfish Africa has been granted 501(c)3 status with the I.R.S., so all donations are tax-deductible for the 2007 tax year. Would you consider assisting us with one of these costs or with a donation of any size? If so, please click here
to find more information on how to donate.
We're Movie Stars!
Thanks to Britta Schumann who helped put together the first-ever Starfish Africa DVD. Britta worked tirelessly to prepare footage and pictures from her recent trip to Kenya for inclusion in this video. The video clearly explains the story of Strafish Africa, and gives viewers a chance to meet some of the students and see the parts of Kenya where our Starfish live, study, and serve. Please check back soon for an online version of the video, or e-mail Carrie Kingston
to request a free copy of your own.
August Break Activity
During this August school holiday, Starfish Africa students had yet another chance to give back to the community. The students stayed at Diguna Youth Camp and traveled each day into the slums (the same ones
from which some of the students hail) and participated in a service project for Imani Children's Homes. Click on the pictures of the service project below to see enlarged versions:
Humanity Needs Some Habitat Board members Michael Tibbetts and Carrie Kingston traveled to Nairobi to facilitate a week-long service project near Mt. Longonot with our Starfish. The students utilized time off during their break to help build two homes as a part of a Habitat for Humanity project.