2018 Updates

Chris and Emily at Ark Quest

A note from Chris and Emily…

Chris and I have been blown away by the project of Ark Quest. Chris and I can see the short term and long term impact that Ark Quest is having and will have on this village and the surrounding communities. We are so excited to journey with this project and believe that every bit of support whether spiritually or financially is truly changing people’s lives. Something that we have now grasped by being here is the amount of work that is going on in order for this project to be self-sustainable. Not only is the cow project generating income, but the chicken project, which Mum and Dad started is also providing eggs for the children and income. The farming of vegetables, cow feed and trees for timber is also providing ways of support for the school and the continued goal of self-sufficiency. With all of these things going on there is a lot of work which allows opportunities for Ark Quest to be able to provide jobs for people who would not have been able to find work in this village due to the lack of work availability.

Although there are many challenges here, we have seen that Calvine is able to stand firm in God’s word and he continuously impresses us with the way he trusts and gives glory to God. He is so passionate about children and is committed to tending to their needs now and in the long term even though it means massive sacrifices for him.

It has been a very special time for us to be able to connect with the people who meant so much to Mum and Dad. We have heard many wonderful and funny stories about Mum and Dad and  the legacy they have left behind is evident. Chris and I are so thankful for this opportunity to be able to spend time with these incredible, faithful people and we continue to learn and grow in faith and understanding.

Our main project while being here has been the extension of the cow shed. Seeing it for ourselves has helped with ourunderstanding of the huge impact this will have. We are so thankful for the support financially for this project and we can say confidently that every single dollar has helped and will continue to change lives.

We have been blessed to be able to play, talk and spend time with the fun, respectful and loving children at Ark Quest. We are excited to see this school continue to grow and transform lives. These transformations have only been possible with the support Ark Quest has received. Many of the children who attend Ark Quest come from extreme poverty. It is encouraging to see how important school and education is to them. Every bit of support is used to transform these children’s lives and the future of this community.

Chris and Emily Johnston

October Update: Hannah’s Reflections… and Emily and Chris Johnston’s Good News!

Hannah’s Reflection

Hannah Johnston is an ex-pupil of Bethlehem College and was part of the team that was involved in the building of the first 9 classrooms at Ark Quest school in Jan 2011. She was in Year 13 at the time.

It has been 8 years since I last walked down the clay path to Ark Quest School. It is a real encouragement to see how far the school has come in a short space of time. Eight years ago, the new bare classrooms had just been established, no concrete on the floor, no windows as well as the surrounding area being a bare field. Now there are more buildings surrounded by gardens, a field for the children, crops and all fenced and gated. The chickens provide eggs which are then sold. The dairy shed is full of cows, supplying the school children with milk for chai (Kenyan tea), as well as milk which is sold in the local community. In the classrooms, every child has a table and chair, books and pens. There is now  a library with a small selection of books and 4 computers for the children to learn computer skills. What a transformation!

Although the school has progressed in many ways, some of the buildings are in need of reconstruction. The foundations have sunk considerably. The maintenance is now very costly, and a new permanent structure is needed. This is the next major project planned, God willing, for next year.

As much as this progress has impressed me, the children have impressed me even more. Ark Quest is a school that has a generation of children that are grounded in God’s word and are eager to learn. They are bright and inquisitive and will take any opportunity to ask questions and understand, knowing that education is the key. They are loving and kind to each other and open an welcoming strangers who come and visit.

The dairy shed is now at full capacity, so an extension of the dairy shed is happening next month. With a greater capacity for cows, there are more opportunities to create sustainable finances for the school.

The teachers and staff at Ark Quest are doing an outstanding job at leading, teaching and providing for the children.

The school has progressed over the years and continues to do so with the support and prayers of everyone involved. This is an exciting time for Ark Quest with the planning of more projects for the near future.

Emily and Chris Johnston’s Good News!

Chris and Emily Johnston (no relation to Hannah) will travel to Ark Quest School in mid November. They have been busy raising funds to extend the existing cowshed to allow for continuing expansion of the dairy herd. 

We have some good news to share! Emily and Chris have achieved their fundraising goal of $10 000 for their venture. They will have enough funds to build the cowshed, but will also be able to provide for much needed maintenance of equipment and vehicles. This is an awesome blessing for which we praise God.

September Update: A challenging month for Ark Quest Education Centre

Calvine has been in touch to share with us, some recent struggles. We have been told that two of the cows have died, which has had quite an impact on the schools finances. Thankfully they were able to save the rest of the herd. Calvine seemed to be quite shaken, so we would appreciate your prayers for him and for the school at this time.

 

Emily and Chris Johnston are finalising their travel plans, and they will be spending time with him in November. They will be attending the next trust meeting to share their final travel plans and vision for their trip. Watch this space.

We have not had any official updates from the school this month, so we can assume that Calvine is currently visiting the village, and we expect there will be an update soon. Two former Bethlehem College students, Hannah and Sam Johnston (brother and sister) are currently visiting Kenya, so we hope and pray they will be a real encouragement for Calvine.

 

2Cor 4:16 “So we are not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good time, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.

(Photo taken 2016)

August Update: Sarah’s Visit

Recently Sarah Jackson visited Ark Quest for the 5th time. Sarah, who is from the UK, has a background in teaching and has been a supporter of Ark Quest School for a number of years.  She writes…

Even though the school closed for the holidays, shortly after I arrived, it was a joy to spend time with teachers as they ran holiday classes for the Year 8 Exam candidates. It is clear that the teachers are committed to the learning and future of their students. There is a strong sense of community and unity between staff and students. Children enjoy being at the school and value the opportunities that are provided.

As there is a new government requirement for technology in schools, I helped set up the new computer lab in the library, and train teachers in the use of programmes. This created great excitement for both students and teachers.

The Ark Quest journey has not been without its challenges, but God has proved his faithfulness time and time again to this community. I truly believe God continues to bless this school because of the good stewardship of resources, and the integrity that is demonstrated throughout.

Calvine’s vision, sacrifice and forward planning never ceases to amaze me! The dairy is growing strong and has multiplied since last time I was here. It is full to bursting and awaiting the planned extension in November.

* Chris and Emily Johnston will be visiting in November and are raising funds to extend the dairy shed. Click here to find out more.

From Chris and Emily…

Hello friends and family,

As you all know Kenya was a very special and important place for our parents, Grace and Brian, especially the Ark Quest School. Chris and I plan to go to Kenya from November 12th to December 12th to work alongside the Ark Quest School team.

Chris and I are both excited to go visit the school and community; continuing the work that our parents were so passionate about. We have been in contact with Calvine to ask if there are any projects or needs that Chris and I could help with. He told us that extending the cowshed to increase the schools cowherd would be a massive help. The Ark Quest herd has grown from the original 3 cows, to 8 adult cows and 8 calves. In Kenya, cows are kept inside to protect them from diseases, which are rampant in the area. This project is important as the milk from the cows is sold to support the school.

We would love for you consider partnering with us, whether prayerfully or financially.

Prayer Requests:      

  • Protection over Chris and me as this will be our first time in Kenya. We are excited to see the work that has been done. However, we are anticipating the emotional connection that we will have to this place.
  • For the Ark Quest School and its impact on the community.
  • That we will be able to support the school by completing the cowshed during our time there.
  • For safety on our travels to and in Kenya.
  • That the Lord will bless this project and that it will be beneficial to the whole community.

Financially:

Chris and I will be paying for our flights and all expenses for our trip to Kenya, therefore all donations will be going directly to the cowshed project. Our goal is to raise $10,000. These funds will go beyond just our one month in Kenya, and will ensure the completion of the project, therefore blessing the whole community.

If you are interested in donating towards this project please use the banking information below.

Name of account:    Bethlehem College Board of Trustees, BANK: BNZ (Tauranga Branch , New Zealand),

ACCOUNT NUMBER:  02 0466 0057025 00

REFERENCE:  ARK QUEST – EMILY (In order to ensure that each donation is designated to the cowshed please use the reference code listed above)

If you have any questions or would like to learn more, Chris and I are more than happy to connect with you. You can email us at emilysjohnston@live.com

Thank you! Chris and Emily Johnston

 

Progress at Ark Quest

Agricultural Club: This month, students who are in the agricultural club, under the supervision of the gardening master, Mr. Stanley Amaya, planted cowpeas (black-eyed peas). These are greatly appreciated as they ensure a constant supply of vegetables to the school and the community. We look forward to hearing about the harvest to come.

Beatrice Midecha: Beatrice Midecha, joined Ark Quest in 2011 as a 5 year old, walking 3km to school every morning. She is now in her final year of studies at Ark Quest (Year 8). Beatrice lives with her elderly grandmother, who tells the sad story of how Beatrice was deserted by her mother at a very early age. Beatrice doesn’t even know her mother. Her grandmother takes on domestic chores to raise money. However, they struggle to manage their daily meals and other basic needs at home, let alone the serious challenge of raising her school fees. Despite these hardships, Beatrice has attended Ark Quest Education Centre where she has flourished. We hope that Beatrice will perform extremely well later in the year and proceed to further studies.

Annual Health Inspection: The school was recently inspected by the health officials.  The team was impressed by the presentation of the school, and particularly with the availability of clean water and the nourishing food provided for our children. They suggested some improvements to the kitchen building and the toilets, which will be implemented in the near future.

Ark Quest Overall Performance: Recently, the County office of the Ministry of Education, State Department of Early Learning and Basic Education, recognised Ark Quest School for the great performance of our 2017  Year 8 students. This enabled them to gain places in high schools. We are truly grateful to God for the excellent standard of education that is being achieved at Ark Quest.

Food Bank Appeal: Ark Quest provides all 118 students with breakfast and lunch every day; some are also served with dinner. It is difficult for hungry children to learn when they are weak and are unable to concentrate in class. Provision of clean water and basic food is therefore necessary in this community. As Calvine looks ahead, he is realising that the optimum time for purchasing of maize and beans for the storehouse is approaching. This a time when prices drop and he has greater purchasing power. It would be ideal for Calvine to be able to buy in bulk, while prices are low. If you would like to contribute towards this ‘food bank appeal’ it would be greatly appreciated. Please reference your donation ‘food bank’.

The account number for any donations is: ASB Bank 12-3633-0029261-00

May Update: Exciting plans

Upcoming Trips

We are excited to tell you that there is another trip to Kenya coming up! Emily and Chris Johnston have already booked to go to Kenya to continue the work that their parents, Brian and Grace, were so passionate about. They travel in November and have plans to extend the cow shed to allow for the expansion of this herd. The Ark Quest herd has grown from the original 3 cows, to 8 adult cows and 8 calves. In Kenya, cows are kept inside to protect them from diseases which are rampant in the area. For this project, they are seeking donations to go towards the building costs. The cows are critical to the sustainability of the school, since the milk is sold to support the school.

Next year, Emma and Brad Hodgson are also planning to take a team from O2 Church. The team will visit Ark Quest School for three weeks, to explore possibilities for future involvement of the church.

Generous Donation

The Official Liverpool Supporters Club of NZ have given a generous donation, which will assist another student to go to high school. We are blessed by their willingness to support Ark Quest in this way.

Ark Quest Teacher

An ongoing challenge for Ark Quest is retaining good teachers as they are unable to match the government salaries. Patrick Akaranga, who is the current head teacher, shares this story as he moves to a new appointment.

I am from an extremely poor background and was orphaned at a young age. I had no way to afford secondary school education until a well-wisher came my way to support me at Mukingi secondary school for four years. Due to lack of fees, I was forced to stay at home for two more years until I was able to join Eregi Teachers’ Training College.

After college, in 2012, I applied for a teaching post at Ark Quest Education Centre and I have been there ever since. The Christian approach at Ark Quest always made me feel so at home. The school board of management has kept mentoring and advising me on many issues. They not only took me as a teacher, but as their son as well, something I will forever be grateful for.

I started serving as a primary school teacher for two years. I was then promoted to become the senior teacher for another two years. After that, I was appointed to serve as the school head teacher, a position I was not expecting, given the short time I had served at Ark Quest. Friends, this has been a great journey for me. Initially there were challenges, since teachers’ salaries were not always able to be paid. On behalf of the school, we are so grateful, because we now receive our salaries every month and on time. What a great service you are doing. You have really blessed our lives and above all God’s own work here.

I will forever cherish my time at Ark Quest. This has been home for me for the past six years. I will truly miss this humble little school at the village that has really transformed the lives of many here. The children here are able to access better education at Ark Quest, with the opportunity to join top high schools and proceed to the university. Cumulatively, this is a tool that has and still is transforming the community here.

 

We are sorry that Patrick is moving on, and wish him well in his new position.

April Update: First University Student for Ark Quest School

Calvine has sent a report on a former Ark Quest student, Albert Karanja:

Albert started at Ark Quest School in 2009 walking about 4km to school each day. When his father died, his family were left struggling to pay school fees. In spite of the hardships, Albert worked extremely hard showing a special aptitude for Science and Maths. As a top student, he gained 396 marks out of the required 500 marks in his final exams. This was an exemplary performance that secured him a position at Chavakali High School, a prestigious national school in our region, in January, 2014. However, raising his school fees for the national school was to be yet another great challenge. Albert was grateful for the sponsorship from a supporter in New Zealand that enabled him to pursue secondary education.

We pick up what Albert had to say here:

Ark Quest has been an institution that embraces academic excellence. The school, as it’s school motto says, ‘Lets you shine’. My life at Chavakali High School was easy to adapt to. Opportunities at Ark Quest nurtured and shaped so much in me, and played a major role in shaping my life. I want to thank my school for giving me this chance to build a strong foundation in my life. I promise to work to my best and make everyone proud of me. My dream is to become a surgeon one day. I will work very hard to make this dream come true. I want to thank Ark Quest Education Centre for the good start they gave me.

We are proud to report that, Albert, who was in the first cohort, began university this year! He has begun a Bachelor of Education Science Degree at the University of Eldoret.

What a wonderful example of a life transformed through your great prayers and generous support of Ark Quest. It may seem a slow path to transform a community, but it’s the best path to follow. I can imagine the joy in Albert’s family; they can now see a new ray of hope especially for the other siblings and the community at large. It is Ark Quest’s vision that successful graduates will go on to support other Ark Quest students in the future. If Albert can support another two needy students in future, then the transformation will definitely go a long way.

Prayer Needs:

  • Please pray for Calvine and his wife, as the university has been on strike for some time, which has a significant impact on their income and their ability to meet the needs of Ark Quest School.
  • Continue to pray for Calvine’s father Fred, who is receiving treatment. We are thankful that he has shown signs of improvement recently.

March Update

Student Sponsorship Update: Victor.

We are thrilled to hear that, not only have Whitney and Nipha been able to take up positions in high schools, but Victor Atambo is also now at high school. Victor’s father was murdered some time ago in Nairobi. The family were totally dependent on his income, so they have struggled financially as a result. The fact that Victor is able to go to high school is beyond their wildest dreams and gives their whole family hope for the future.

Ark Quest

Calvine tells us that the village school is in full swing for the year. He expresses his gratitude for the regular support which allows the teachers’ salaries to be paid. Both teachers and students fully understand that their future is dependent on their school results. For 2018, the school has 15 students in Year 8 who are currently attending their final year at primary. They will be sitting the KPCE (Kenyan Primary Certificate of Education) at the end of the year. This is the most significant exam for their future educational possibilities.

The Dairy Project

After a long dry period, the rains are back, which has enabled food to be planted for both the school children, and the dairy herd. The dairy project continues to do well. Calvine’s vision is to produce the best business model for training those in the community and providing finances for the school. We are excited about how rapidly the herd has multiplied. This is due to the careful planning and excellent health of the herd. There will soon be a need to extend the cow shed yet again.

February Update

God is Good

This month we celebrate God’s goodness! Calvine has always said that Ark Quest Education Centre was God’s idea, and God is continuing to provide.

Last month Calvine reported the need for major repairs to the van. The school van was first funded by donations from Bethlehem College. It has been in constant use and has become an essential part of the running of the school. It has been used for transporting students to and from school to save them walking long distances, for transporting feed for chickens and cows, for distributing eggs to various local stores, and transporting visiting missions teams to name just a few. Thanks to a generous donor, we were able to fund the necessary full replacement of the engine. The van has also had a brand new coat of yellow paint to comply with the new Ministry of Education regulations.

Thank you

Your monthly donations continue to ensure that the teachers at Ark Quest School are paid regularly. This is particularly important, since the local state schools often try to poach the exceptionally dedicated Ark Quest staff who may have no choice but to move to a state funded school if Ark Quest cannot pay their salaries. Many of the families at Ark Quest just cannot afford the fees.

We hope to report on students who have started high school this year, so that you are able to hear about their progress.