Ever since she was a small girl, Carole Platt dreamed of being a missionary nurse in Africa. But her journey went in a very different direction. Carole became a teacher, married Leon and had a family. Her African dreams were moved to the backburner.
After finally visiting Africa in 2007, Carole spent time in a Kenyan orphanage where she was troubled and challenged by what she observed.
On her second visit she met a businessman who said, “All Kenyan children need is an opportunity.” This planted a seed in Carole’s mind. With her teaching background, she knew that while she couldn’t change Kenya, one day educated children could.
Carole visited the Mt Warning AM Murwillumbah Rotary Club (NSW) where she shared her dreams and aspirations, and subsequently Education Care Projects Kenya was born.
A partnership was formed with two Kenyan organisations with similar aims to educate and care for disadvantaged children. Both groups are run by local Seventh-day Adventist members who give their time and resources.
Currently there are 63 children enrolled—some have been rescued from the streets and the infamous garbage dump at Eldoret, western Kenya. The school is called “Hands of Hope Academy”—a boarding primary school in the small town of Mosoriot.
Hands of Hope staff go out into the streets and the dump searching for children who want to escape the horrors of poverty and drug addiction. Hundreds of vulnerable boys and girls live among and eat from the garbage. Many girls are kidnapped and sold into prostitution or slavery. Few have escaped being raped and abused. A common pastime is sniffing glue, which enables the children to forget the cold, the hunger, the rain and the misery they are forced to endure.
Those rescued are cleaned up, fed, given clean clothes and a school uniform. They then travel to their new home at the academy where love and kindness start them on a new journey.
Another project involves the Enkishon Emma Welfare organisation, run by a group of concerned Adventist Maasai church members. These people also have a burden for abandoned and vulnerable children. Many of these children are victims of violence, cruelty and unmentionable abuse. The Maasai leader of this group has dedicated his life to the task of salvaging the suffering outcasts of Maasai society. Unable to afford a school of his own, and with the support of Education Care Projects Kenya, these rescued children are being placed in boarding schools. Currently 21 children are receiving an education and care in four different schools and are looking forward to a much brighter future.
"Those rescued are cleaned up, fed, given clean clothes and a school uniform. They then travel to their new home at the academy where love and kindness start them on a new journey."
Carole’s aim, with the support of her husband, is to build two self-supporting boarding schools with a suitable curriculum designed to suit the needs and backgrounds of as many children as possible.
Already the Platts are seeing exciting results. By the end of this year, three long-term students who have been supported by Education Care Projects Kenya will have graduated with university degrees. With the help of generous sponsors, the Hands of Hope project supports 29 primary school, eight high school and three university students, along with a vocational training school student.
The Platts recently purchased two hectares of land where they have started construction of the new Enkishon Emma Academy, which they plan to establish as a self-supporting institution. They are also searching for a suitable property to set up a true Adventist education centre with room for crops, gardens, a poultry farm and an orchard. The students will work in the gardens and learn the art of growing vegetables and crops.
One area of Maasai territory is sending many girls to be educated in a safe environment as they are very vulnerable in their home villages and not encouraged to seek an education. As a result of the goodwill, there are plans to send a lay missionary into the area with the intention of establishing a church.
With Leon’s building skills and Carole’s op-shop project, the support of Rotary and many fundraising events, the sky’s the limit. The Platts are proving that dreams can come true if you are patient and put them in the Lord’s hands.
Errol Wright is a retired pastor who attends Tumbulgum Church (NSW) with his wife Zena.