Barack Odero Odongo was born on July 7, 2000 in Oyuama Village as the second born in his family. He never came to know his father as he passed 1 month before his birth. His mother worked on the farm “shamba” selling produce and supplies at the market to provide for the family. During his early years, he studied at a village primary school. Barack shared, “I remember going to school barefoot and without a uniform as loneliness became a part of me. I used to go to other peoples farms to get a daily meal as it wasn’t easy for me to survive.” In October of 2012, on Delta’s first trip, his mother committed suicide from the grief and despair at the loss of her husband and inability to provide for her family. Without a place to live, Barack and his siblings were supposed to be taken to the Hope Center Orphanage, but the program was at full capacity. After his mother’s passing, he was taken care of by his uncle through Class 8 at Nyaduong Primary School. Barack did well in school, but he often had to return home due to lack of payment for school fees. He even remained home for four months falling far behind in his studies. Despite these challenges, Barack scored well on his exams and was accepted into Agoro Sare Boys High School.
In his second year of high school, Barack connected with Take Heart. He shared, “I noticed Delta had passion, and she was really concerned about our lives. She called me by name and spent much time getting to know us individually.” From there, Take Heart sponsored him to finish secondary school at Agoro Sare Boy High School. Barack shared, “Take Heart has created a good environment where I feel part of the family. This organization has really healed my wounds.” Not having to worry about being sent home due to lack of funds, he immersed himself in his academics. His hard work and dedication paid off as he was accepted to attend the University of Nairobi, the top school in the nation. Barack is pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science in Chemistry and Mathematics. He shared, “I have a passion to become a teacher to promote quality education for those neglected in society. I understand how the challenges of my upbringing have shaped my desire to impact future communities.” Despite all of the challenges he has faced, Barack has a smile that lights up every room he walks into. He loves music, playing football, and making friends.
Victor Wao Odhiambo was born on November 11, 1996 in Migori County. He is an only child, and his father passed away at an early age in 2004 leaving his family in a small house with his mother to provide through gardening. When he was seven, his house made of grass and clay burnt down, and the family had trouble evacuating. While no family members were hurt, they lost everything. Victor repeated eighth grade three times because he lacked school fees. Thankfully, his uncle assisted him in paying his secondary level education, but he could not continue once he reached twelfth grade because they had other children to assist. He completed his senior year of high school in 2015, and found a job to assist his mother and save money for university one day. Victor worked hard on a compound carrying out lawn care and gardening making $25 a month.
In 2017, Victor learned about Take Heart’s mission and requested support for his education by sharing his story. Take Heart onboarded him to the program, and he’s now enrolled at the University of Eldoret studying commerce, business and accounting for his Bachelor’s Degree. From an early age, he had a gift for entrepreneurship. Eventually, he dreams of becoming a politician and public servant representing Kenya on a national level. He is an incredibly talented, smart and driven young man full of potential. As a natural leader, he oversees a local ministry in Eldoret reaching street children and families weekly on Sundays. “My life has been challenging, but I thank the Lord I am going somewhere,” Victor said.
Bellah Akoth Oguma was born on June 12, 2000 in Migori County, Kenya. She was one of five children. Bellah’s father was a farmer, and her mother worked as house help to a family that was better off than them. Bellah’s family had a two-room mud house. However, when Bellah was six years old, both of her parents became extremely ill. First, her mother passed away, and then, less than a year later her father died, as well. Bellah and her brother Joel went to stay at The Hope Center Orphanage while her other siblings stayed with her uncle. It was here, at The Hope Center, that Bellah experienced the hope of Christ and first met Delta in 2012. Once she aged out of the orphanage when she finished her senior year of high school, Bellah felt lost for what to do next. Her uncle arranged for her to stay with one of his three wives, but because he had thirteen children of his own, he couldn’t financially support Bellah in her next level of education. She had a dream of becoming a lawyer, but having scored poorly on her final examinations, she couldn’t pursue this dream unless she repeated eleventh and twelfth grade.
Take Heart started sponsoring Bellah in 2018. With her tuition and room and board covered, she was able to repeat these grades and score well on the final examinations making her dream a possibility once again. Bellah has been grateful for the support in her continued education and school supplies. In September of 2021, Bellah enrolled in Mount Kenya University School of Law. She wants to spend her life fighting against corruption and injustice in Kenya and advocating for the basic rights of marginalized people. Bellah is an incredibly creative student, singer, worship leader, and writer.
Stacey was born May 12th, 1993 in a rural village in Kenya. Stacey’s parents were small scale farmers earning what they could to provide for the family. Unfortunately, both her parents contracted malaria and her father died in 2000 and her mom passed away two years later. Stacey was left under the care of her elder brother Boniface. Growing up, she endured many challenges including lack of school fees and basic needs, but by the grace of God, she joined The Hope Center Orphanage in 2008 at age 14. She remained living at the orphanage through high school before aging out and returning to her family’s house for 2 years. With no further financial support, Stacey became pregnant with a baby girl, named Caitlyn Eve. She felt hopeless when it came to caring for the child as she struggled already to provide for her own needs. In September 2013, she connected to Take Heart and shared with Delta that she hoped to continue her education.
She had to repeat two years of high school before starting at Kisii University in 2015. Stacey is currently enrolled to earn a Bachelor’s degree in commerce and accounting. “Take Heart has helped me a lot and empowered my dreams to be fulfilled,” Stacey said. Take Heart also partnered with her to take care of her child while in school through the care of another guardian. In the future, Stacey wants to use part of her salary to help the needy and give back to the community. “I want to inspire girls who might be in the same situation I was and help them get to where I am now.” Stacey is also an avid soccer player in club sports and on the university team.
Coletta Nadwire Ndanda was born June 6, 2000 in Busia, Kenya. From birth, she was considered cursed by her family and hidden from others due to a deformity of her lower arm and hand. Her mother was a gardener and her father worked on houses. In 2012, her father moved her and her siblings to Nairobi, but her mother stayed behind in Busia visiting frequently. Here, Colleta attended a school called Candlelight that was located in one of Nairobi’s many slums. In 2015, she finished the eighth grade, and the Director of her primary school made an effort to support Coletta to go on to secondary school at Lorna Waddington School. Colleta’s father and primary school Director split payment for her school fees, but the funds from her Director quickly ran out, and Colleta’s dad went to work one day and never came back. Later, she discovered that he had married another wife. With no support from her mom, Colleta felt hopeless about the next steps she needed to take.
At this time, she was connected to Take Heart. Securing sponsorship, Colleta’s school fees were covered, empowering her to focus on her academics in her remaining years of school. Her hard work paid off as she scored very well on her final examinations. She is now pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Education with a focus in Science at Mount Kenya University. She shared, “With Take Heart’s support, I can dream again. I want to educate many so that they can dream, too.”
Fiona was born on December 19, 2004 into a family with three other sisters. Her mother had dreams of becoming a nurse but had to drop out after one semester due to lack of financial support. She spent a lot of time in the hospital sick with tuberculosis and malaria. Fiona shared that her father was an abusive alcoholic, so with neither parent in great condition to care for her, Fiona was sent to live with her grandmother. This required Fiona to care for her younger siblings, as well. Though she excelled in school, they often went without meals and struggled to pay school fees. Despite such great distractions, Fiona scored in the top 10% of all girls in Kenya on her eighth grade final examinations. Her great academic success led the Department of Education to connect her with Take Heart in 2017. Though her father was still living at this time, she secured sponsorship and had her school fees covered. In December of 2018, Fiona’s father passed away.
She attended Nyabisawa Secondary School, one of the top schools in the county. There, she had been encouraged to pursue her academic studies and performed well on her final examinations. In 2021, Fiona began Nursing School at Kenyatta University, one of the top three schools in the nation. During her free time, she enjoys drawing for fun and reading novels. The Take Heart Family is blessed by Fiona’s bright smile and natural leadership skills.
Anne Atieno Ndege was born in 1978 in Homabay County. She received love and care from her parents when she was growing up but faced hardship as they tried to provide for a large family of ten, eight girls and two boys. As peasant farmers, they earned a small income making it difficult to pay all tuition fees, buy uniforms and food. Due to the lack of financial support, Anne dropped out of school in Class Six. Seeing her parents work in the fields from sun up to sun down sharpened her to become who she is today. “Most of the time in our family, I went hungry at lunch time, and when I got to eat, my mother would go hungry, just to ensure that we get something to eat.”
She got married to her husband Janes Wao in the year 1991 in Migori County. During their marriage, they worked together as peasant farmers, only making enough money for each day. Janes was an alcoholic who became abusive to both Anne and their child. He died in 2004, leaving her a widow. Though life wasn’t easy while Janes was alive, it became much harder after he passed. With no husband, Anne’s land was threatened to be taken away, but since she had a son, she fought to keep it. This son, Victor, went on to become a Take Heart student connecting Anne with the organization. Not only are her son’s school fees covered, but Anne, herself, has her monthly insurance paid for and is empowered to run her own small business through Take Heart’s entrepreneurship program.
After returning from her first trip in 2012, Delta was still marked by the encounter with the widow who took her own life in the village. She reached out to the local pastor to find another widow in a desperate situation who needed immediate care. Caroline was a young woman who had 5 children and was pregnant with her sixth child on the way. She had been married but with the loss of her husband, she became inherited by another man in her clan. All of her children had not been in school for 4 years so school fees and uniforms were purchased for them to return. Caroline had attempted to sell tomatoes at the market to earn enough money for food but could barely walk due to her pregnancy.
On March 4, 2013, Caroline went into labor. Delta learned her baby was breech and the midwife informed her the baby and Caroline were likely to die. Refusing to accept that outcome, Delta sent funds for transport on a motorcycle mid-labor for a half hour ride from the village to the closest district hospital. There were no medical care professionals on site and she began to hemorrhage badly. A surgeon finally came to perform a C-section birth and Pius was born as a miraculously healthy baby over 8 pounds. Caroline’s excessive bleeding caused the surgeon to perform a hysterectomy and her loss of blood pointed to a low chance of survival post delivery.
Hospital staff doubted her ability to recover but Delta sent for a car to transport her to a larger hospital in Kisii for a blood transfusion. The entire operation and 2 weeks in the hospital saved two lives, costing Delta and her husband only $500. From this point on, she knew deep down that she would invest herself fully into this redemptive work. Upon returning back to the village, Caroline was assaulted by local men in the village because she received help from an American.
Continuing her recovery getting back on her feet, Caroline became the first widow in Take Heart to receive a small micro-finance loan. She started with a few products like flour, oil, onions and other produce faithfully returning the loan over the first year. Eventually, she requested a larger loan to begin her clothing resale business. Caroline has a true gift for buying and selling in the village as she now has a self-sustaining storefront open multiple days in the village. Her success story stands as a testament to the significance of one life change leading to many where she is now fully independent supporting herself and her children.
Nerea Anyango was born in the year 1966. As a kid, girl’s education was not valued, so she didn’t even begin school until the age of 10. After this, she only managed to reach class three. She married in the year 1984, at the age of 18. Her husband had no permanent job but worked hard as a farmer until he started getting ill with cancer. He passed away in the year 2006. Nerea shared, “When he died, I was left in a helpless state. We had used all the resources we had while undergoing treatment, including selling a piece of my land to raise money. He left me with six kids, the eldest was in high school and needed fees.” Due to her low level of education, she was not in a position to get a well-paying job. She ended up weeding people’s sugarcane farms to get money for food, but this kind of job didn’t provide enough to cover her kids’ school fees. Nerea shared, “I really went through a hard time as a widow living a hopeless life of stress and poverty.”
Nerea is known for her kind heart. Despite having so little, she continued to care for those in her family by taking in the orphaned children of late husband’s brother. These children, Barrack and Elizabeth, had lost their mother to suicide on Delta’s first trip to Kenya in 2012. They later became sponsored by Take Heart connecting Nerea to the organization. With her monthly insurance payment covered and the funds to run her own small business through Take Heart’s entrepreneurship program, Nerea says, “I really thank God for the gift of Take Heart. The organization is helping many hopeless widows in Kenya, and I must say that the organization has really changed my situation.”
Judith Akinyi was born in 1980, the third born in a family of seven kids. She started school when she was four years old and continued all the way through high school. In 1997, Judith graduated but lacked fees to continue to university. She married in 2002 to a hardworking businessman who owned a small kiosk. After they had two kids together, things started to change, and Judith realized that he had a relationship outside of their marriage. When she questioned this, her husband became abusive, so Judith remained quiet knowing that leaving was not an option. A few years later, she became pregnant with another child, and with this pregnancy came terrible sickness. When she sought medical attention, Judith was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, and it was clear that her husband infected her with the deadly virus. When she disclosed her status to him, he refused to go for a test. Over the next few years, he started to get sick. His condition worsened day by day, and by the time he went to the hospital, it was too late for him. He was diagnosed with AIDS and was bed ridden until he passed on in 2016.
Though the time before Judith’s husband passed was full of challenges, it was even harder after. The stigma of having HIV and being a widow stayed with her. Then, in 2019, Judith was in a very bad motorcycle accident that left her crippled and unable to work to provide for her family. She was introduced to Delta in a time of great need and joined Take Heart’s entrepreneurship program. She had her monthly insurance paid for, received training as a tailor, and was financially supported until she could get her own small business going. Judith shared, “I am so happy for this golden opportunity to be part of the Take Heart Organization. I want to work so hard to be able to own my shop and train other people to continue helping so many hopeless souls like Take Heart did for me.”
Elsa was born in 1961. She went through her education both primary and secondary and managed to reach from two. Unfortunately, she got pregnant when she was just 15 causing her to drop out of school. She got married at 17 years old, becoming the third wife to her husband. Soon after, Elsa’s child passed away. This devastation was only made worse by her inability to conceive another child. Her husband’s other wives would insult her for this because in their culture, a woman without a child would be considered desperate and weak. In 2006, her husband died, and the children of his other wives blamed Elsa for this loss. They became abusive, demanding that she find another place to live. Elsa moved back to her childhood home where she built a small house made of iron sheets. “I did this to have peace, but I would work on people’s farms, sometimes going days without food.”
Even in Elsa’s desperation, she took in Stacey, an orphaned child who, herself, had just had a baby. In 2014, Stacey became sponsored by Take Heart, which connected Elsa to the organization. Take Heart also built Elsa a house and a rain barrel. Elsa joined the entrepreneurship program to start her own small business. Caring for Stacey and her daughter has filled the void of motherhood that Elsa always longed for.
Esther Achola was born in 1976. She started school at the age of five and went through primary education managing to reach class seven. The value wasn’t seen in girls’ education, so at the age of 15, Esther was pressured by her parents to get married. Esther married her husband and was blessed with five children. Esther shared, “I have faced a lot of hardship in my marriage. My husband is a drunkard, so coping with his abuse has been a challenge to me and my children.” Esther’s husband has a great job as a butcher, but he is irresponsible with the money and doesn’t care for the family. Esther works on people’s farms in order to put food on the table for her family when he is away for long periods of time. When Esther was connected to Take Heart, she and her children were living in a grass thatched house that was leaking to an extent that whenever it rained the floor would become muddy. Esther shared, “Nobody cared about us, not even my neighbors or family. They were all seeing us as an outcast.” Take Heart built Esther a mud house with a secure roof and sponsored her children in primary school. She shared, “Even though my husband hasn’t changed, I feel strong because I am able to stand up for my family. I have a roof over my head, a beautiful house to stay with my family, and my kids are sponsored to attend school in full school uniform. Take Heart has made me see some bright future in my children. I must say that Take Heart has really changed my life.”