Stephen “Live Simply for Others to Simply Live”

I was born in Kenya. My brothers and I had an easy life. We went to good schools, we never missed a meal, we had nice clothes and shoes to wear and whenever we were sick we went to the doctor. But my life could have very easily turned out different...much harder.

Photo by  Randy Bacon

Photo by Randy Bacon

My dad grew up with one set of clothes; walking barefoot in the jungle. My father and his family lived in a rural part of the country where resources were scarce. My grandfather recognized the importance of education after missionaries came to his village in the late 1950’s - this was the first time he knew what an education was. He gave his sons no other option; they had to go to school so they might have a chance at a better future.

My father would walk 30 miles to school. He would leave at 3:00 in the morning to walk through the forest. He and his brothers would spend the week at school - they slept in a hut on the bare floor in the school area; no mattresses or blankets.

Photo by  Randy Bacon

Photo by Randy Bacon

Fast forward years later - my father’s education paid off. He and his brothers were able to get good jobs. Seeing how education changed his children's lives; my grandfather could not sit and watch knowing that some children did not have this opportunity. So he opened a school - Mbaya Primary School. He donated the land for the school and built the first structure.

My grandfather took great pride in the school. He treated the teachers as his own children. If something was broken or needed at the school, my grandfather would do whatever was necessary to help - often donating things from his own home. When my grandfather was dying, bed ridden with cancer, he asked about the school everyday.

Photo by  Randy Bacon

Photo by Randy Bacon

The responsibility for Mbaya Primary School was passed down to my father; and then to me. This changed my life forever.

I went to visit the school and learned that the children walk 5 to 10 miles a day (most of them barefoot) to get to class. They walk through forests, jump rivers, and follow goat paths before the sun comes up. These children don’t have the luxury of several uniforms. They have one, and for most; this is the only garment they own. Some of the small ones sleep in their uniforms and when they have an accident, they wear their soiled clothing to school. They have no choice.

Photo by  Randy Bacon

Photo by Randy Bacon

After school these children walk miles and miles to find fresh water and food for their families. For many of these children the only meal they eat is the one they get at school

When I saw how these children lived everyday it sank in deeper and deeper how blessed I really am. This could have easily been me. If I don't eat a meal it's because I choose not to eat. But if there is someone, a child, that IS hungry and no matter how bad they want to eat, they cannot get food. PERIOD. That is a different level of lack. That’s when I realized I don't need four square meals a day to be happy. I can have one meal and help three other people. And that will make four people happy that day.

Photo by  Randy Bacon

Photo by Randy Bacon

I was a green card lottery winner and came to America in May 2017. A family friend convinced me to move to Springfield, MO. I have a job and live very simply, often on $40 a week for food. The rest of the money that I make I send to the school. You know that feeling that many people get when they get a new iPhone; you look at it and it’s exciting. Well, I get that feeling every time I send money to children at the school. I cannot put into words the joy and satisfaction I find in doing this. Whenever I send money and child gets uniform or a medical bill is paid or someone has eaten...I feel an invisible feeling. Nothing comes close to it. It’s amazing. I then start looking forward how to do it again. Its my high…. My mantra in life: LIVE SIMPLY FOR OTHERS TO SIMPLY LIVE.

I have learned that little is much with joy. It starts with one person. I will do my part and enjoy each moment.

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