Class of 2020

This is the class of candidates who graduated from the Achungo Primary School, Rodi Kopany, 8th grade in 2016 and are entering secondary school (high school) as of January 2017

 Jalayvon Oluch

Jalayvon is a bright student who enjoys math and science and heads the debate team. In addition to providing a strong academic experience, Achungo has been her haven from the harsh realities of poverty and Kenyan cultural practices.

Jalayvon came to Achungo in Class 6 from Kabuoch, an area that’s extremely poor.  Few adults or children from Kabuoch have attended school and most girls are married before they’re 13.  Jalayvon was attending public school when her neighbors told the district education officer they feared her mother would force her to marry. By marrying her off, Jalayvon’s widowed mother would get a cow or other source of income from the new husband. When the education officer asked Michael Nyangi to admit Jalayvon as a boarding student, he agreed. He also notified the area Chief who sternly warned the mother that forced marriage is illegal.  

 Samwel Wagumba

 Samwel was commuting over 20 miles to school each day with his parents as they looked for work in Rodi Kopany.  They eventually opened a small canteen here and his father brought Samwel to Achungo planning to contribute to his tuition (it is about $7 per month). However, Samwel’s mother divorced his father and then disappeared as his father became ill with HIV/AIDS. The canteen collapsed, but Samwel’s father asked Michael to keep Samwel at Achungo, though he could no longer contribute. Michael was happy to support Samwel, a committed student who wants to be a scientist one day.        

Edith Awuor 

Edith started attending Achungo for preschool before any of the current campus was built. Achungo has also changed the life of her twice-widowed mother who has six daughters. Because she was left without a husband or son, her family took away her land and she was left with only her house—no land even for a garden to survive on. Michael Nyangi knew about her circumstances since she lived just 100 yards from the center, and gave her a job cooking at Achungo.  

Edith likes science and dreams of being a pilot.  She is very grateful that she has been able to attend a much better school than her older sisters did. Living in a dorm with electricity, she can study extra hours at night, and she gets to spend time with the good friends she has here. Even washing clothes is fun when you do it with friends.      

Maurice Ariko

Maurice lost his father in 2004 and mother in 2010 and went to live with an uncle, who was very poor. To survive, Maurice worked on a farm taking care of cattle for about a year. He was mistreated by the farmer, eventually running away because of the beatings.

A school administrator brought him to Michael and he joined Achungo’s 7th grade in late 2015.  He had no belongings when he came to Achungo and was thrilled to get his own uniform, shoes and blanket. He loves living in the dorm because it is warm and dry and has lights making it easy to study.  Now, Maurice is the 8th grade’s top math and social studies student. He enjoys singing and hopes one day to be a pilot so he can see the world.

Margaret Vallary

Margaret was brought to Michael Nyangi’s attention by her neighbor who is on his advisory board. Both of her parents died of HIV/AIDS when she was 4, leaving her to live with her grandmother. She attended public school in Rodi Kopany until her grandmother was too old to care for her any longer, and she came to Achungo for 5th grade. Margaret was already boarding on campus by the time her grandmother died last year. During holidays she stays with extended family.

Margaret is good at academics, enjoys science and English and wants to become a surgeon. She was elected by students to help lead Achungo’s chapter of the Christian Union, a youth group for children from Class 4 to Class 8.  Christian Union chapters collaborate on service projects.     

Clifford Ooko

Clifford is a determined young man. After his father died in 2014, leaving behind a wife and three children, Clifford approached the Achungo head of school uninvited. He told Michael Nyangi, “I want to be a lawyer, but I won’t make it by going to public school. If I come to Achungo, I will be able to learn and be a lawyer.”

Achungo is known throughout the district for its excellence. Clifford’s decision and help from Achungo will change the course of his life.  As a graduate, he’ll attend high school through a scholarship funded by our donors.  

 

Phenny Awuor

Phenny’s father was a teacher, paying for her to attend private school before he died in a car accident. After his death, Phenny’s mother couldn’t pay the tuition, so brought her to Achungo and enrolled her as a boarding student in 7th grade.  Phenny performed well on the placement test that Achungo gives new students. However much her private school helped her academically, she says it did not provide meals (and there was little food at home), employed too few teachers and that she didn’t learn as much as there as she has at Achungo.

Here, teachers selected her to fill the role of “Office Girl”, responsible for keeping the staff room clean and tidy since she’s polite, well-groomed and hardworking.  (All the students help keep the campus clean.)   She enjoys studying science and is considering becoming a civil engineer.  Phenny also enjoys being part of the school music and drama teams. 

Emanuel Juma

Emmanuel’s friend Laurine Akinyi, a 2015 graduate, told him about Achungo.  But to enroll him, his grandmother had to prove that he was an orphan. She presented Michael Nyangi with documentation that he had no parents and the area chief confirmed it.  

Emmanuel enrolled in Class 7, moved into the boys’ dorm, and has become its “Captain”. He likes all of his teachers, especially Mr. Erik and particularly enjoys Social Studies and playing football.    

Wyclife Okeyo

After his parents divorced, Wyclife’s mother disappeared and his father, a teacher, died. Wyclife and his 5 siblings lived with his aunt about 4 miles from Rodi, where she made a living selling watermelon in the marketplace.

He joined Achungo in 3rd Grade and now has many friends at his new home. “The teachers love us!” says Wyclife.   He is the “Head Boy” of Achungo for this school year, after being nominated by student election and chosen by the teachers.  Wyclife’s favorite subject is science; one day he’d like to be a scientist or a missionary.   

 

Briton Odero

Six years ago Briton’s father died of HIV/AIDS. His mother, his father’s second wife, is also HIV positive and lives in Oneno Village with her three children.

Briton enrolled at Achungo in 7th grade.  This year the teachers selected Briton for school chaplain because he follows direction well and is knowledgeable in the Bible, being raised in the Catholic Church. His admiration for his Achungo teachers is evident -- his favorite subject is English, and he wants to be a teacher himself one day.      

Emelda Awuor

Sometimes a girl just needs to take matters into her own hands. Emelda’s mother died long ago and her father, who lived in Rodi Kopany, eventually married another woman, but the new couple neglected her. She’d heard about Achungo from friends, so 13-year-old Emelda bravely came alone to enroll. She brought a complete handwritten application with her mother’s death certificate and a letter from the area chief attached, and asked head of school, Mr. Mwai, if she could attend. (Since our beginning in 2005, only five students have come to Achungo on their own with the appropriate documentation for admission.)  

Emelda did well on her placement test, enrolled in 7th grade and moved into the dorm. “It was wonderful,” she said. “For learning you need a good foundation, and I found it here with good teachers.” She especially enjoys the opportunity to read in the dorm at night (by electric light).  

Brian Omodia

Brian's father learned about Achungo from the parents of Duke Awino, a top student in our first graduating class of 2014. Brian’s mother and siblings live about 20 miles away, but his father is often 250 miles away in Nairobi looking for manual labor.  Wanting the best for his son, Brian’s father brought him to Achungo this year intending to help pay his tuition when he is able.  

Brian is consistently polite and disciplined. He enjoys learning Swahili and plans to study engineering.  What Brian likes most about Achungo are his teachers, who, he says, are “like his friends.”  But they’re also well-trained, devoted instructors helping students finish strong in 8th grade to prepare them for success in high school.       

Brian Odongo

Brian Odongo was one of the first students at Achungo in 2005 while both of his parents were alive and helping pay his tuition. When he was in 3rd grade, his father died after a long illness, and the boy left Achungo.

Director Michael Nyangi later learned that Brian’s mother had taken him and his sister to Kisumu where she was looking for work. When she didn’t find a job, she brought the family back, and put Brian in a public school where the academics were very mediocre. The next day he came on his own to Achungo and staff found him eating with all the other students while wearing the uniform of the other school. Brian told his mother that if he didn’t go to Achungo, he would drop out of school. “He knew he belonged here,” said Nyangi. 

Lencer Atieno

In 2007 Lencer was living with her parents and five siblings in Mombasa, Kenya’s second largest city (about 500 miles away on the coast), when her father was killed during widespread post-election violence. The next year, her mother brought the children back to her hometown 6 miles from Rodi Kopany.  Lencer attended public school, but then dropped out for a year to help her mother support the family.

Then last year, Lencer joined Achungo for 7th grade and was immediately the top student in Swahili because of her time on the coast. Her favorite subject, though, is science, and she wants to become a surgeon.      

Abel Ogambo

Life changed for Abel when his father died of HIV/AIDS in 2010, leaving him with his mother, also HIV positive. As the oldest child, the boy had to work to feed his family and missed a lot of school.

Michael Nyangi found out about his situation from a public school teacher. When Abel enrolled at Achungo as a boarding student in 6th grade, Nyangi had to inform the area chief and church priest. To find support for Abel’s family, Nyangi personally wrote a letter to Plan International, an organization that supports HIV positive widows. As ill as she is, Abel’s mother cares so much about Abel’s education that she attended Achungo’s Education Day (similar to our "Back to School Night") last summer to meet his teachers.     

Alvin Shadrack

Alvin joined Achungo last year for 7th grade. Both of Alvin’s parents are alive and although quite poor, when they heard about Achungo, they enrolled him and agreed to pay a small amount toward his tuition. Alvin is a disciplined student, who says he “loves to learn and acquire knowledge.” His favorite subject is math and he’d like to be an engineer, and was named the top 8th grader in Swahili (the national language that every Achungo student learns along with English). He was voted boys’ dorm Captain because he’s responsible (wakes them in the morning), and they trust him to take their concerns to the boarding master.

Brian Atinga

Brian’s father died long ago.  He lives with his mother, who is HIV positive, about 1 mile from the Achungo school.

He has been walking to school at Achungo since he was 5 years old and is known to his many friends here by his nickname, Tinga Tinga.  He has a younger half-sister, born after his mother remarried, who is in 1st grade at Achungo.  

Brian says he values learning and deeply appreciates Achungo’s teaching methods and the teachers themselves, who’ve helped him succeed at academics. His favorite subject is science and he wants to become a scientist.

Mercy Odendwa

Although Mercy’s parents are alive, they are divorced and her father has remarried. When she came to Achungo in 5th grade, Mercy’s father helped pay her tuition. When he lost his job, and could no longer pay, Michael Nyangi allowed Mercy to continue her education anyway because she’d proven herself to be a very bright, disciplined and hardworking student.

Her favorite subjects are English, Swahili and Math, but she’s one of the highest scoring girls in the county in CRE (Christian Religious Education, a government course). She’d like to attend Kenya High School, in Nairobi, one of the largest national high schools in the country, and go on to be a doctor. Michael thinks she’s capable of that. Her fellow students have a lot of faith in her, too, and voted her “Girls’ Dorm Prefect”, reporting to the Captain. When she’s not studying, Mercy finds time to draw, sing, tell stories and “jump around” with friends.