An open letter to my American donors

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Joshua grew up in Kibera, the largest urban slum in the African continent. He and his four siblings were raised by his single mother, who worked odd jobs like washing clothes to earn a living for her family. None of Joshua's older siblings finished primary school because his family could not afford their fees.

But Joshua was determined not to follow the same pattern and often worked in a dangerous quarry in order to raise money for his own school fees. "Knowing Jesus gave me hope for a future,” he said. It was often the only thing he could rely on.

After graduating from high school Joshua knew he wanted to attend Daystar University, but did not know where he would find the resources. "I wanted a university where I could build the right attitude towards life and all that it entails."

Joshua's dreams became a reality when was awarded a scholarship from Daystar U.S. Last month he wrote a letter to our office and he wanted us to share it with the donors who made his education possible:

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Joshua chose to study Electronic Media and Public Relations saying, “Most professionals use communication to gain and satisfy their personal interest.” But Joshua wants to use his degree to be a blessing to others. “I want to build a better world,” he said. “I feel God has directed me to play such a role because I find delight in doing so.”

Joshua wants to use his degree in Electronic Media and Public Relations to serve God and be a blessing to others.

Joshua wants to use his degree in Electronic Media and Public Relations to serve God and be a blessing to others.

Joshua grew up in one of the worst slums in Kenya and in just a few weeks he will graduate from one of the most renowned universities in the region. This would not have been possible without the support of donors in the United States.

We are thrilled that Joshua, along with 27 other scholarship students, will graduate in July; however, this year we are behind our fundraising goal. Will you please give a gift now to help ensure more students like Joshua will have access to the live-changing education Daystar University offers? Our programs cannot continue without your support. 

Daystar alumna trades career for the slums

Florence Mbithe studied Marketing at Daystar University and went on to have a successful career as a marketer. However, as she was approaching her 40th birthday, she began feeling as if God was calling her to do something else.

Florence had always been aware of poverty and need in her community, even as a child. She said, "I never lacked as a child, but I grew up around poverty. There were these children who would come to school hungry, barefoot, cold. I didn’t get why it was so important to teach them mathematics instead of first feeding and clothing them.”

Along with a few women from her church, Florence set out to feed and clothe the children in the Bondeni slum in Athi River, the same town where Daystar's largest campus is. "The children in Bondeni who were starving and homeless were children to people I (once) shared a classroom with," Florence said. "I couldn't pretend that wasn't my reality. So I answered the call."

However, because of the gravity of need in Bondeni and a lack of resources, her feeding program was forced to pull out of the slum soon after it began. Just a couple weeks after they left the slum, some of the boys that Florence had met while doing the program came looking for her. When they found her and she saw the impact the feeding program had made, she knew she had to return to Bondeni to resume her work. This time, Florence knew she had to be completely committed to the program; she quit her job and started what is now known as Bondeni Children's Rescue Centre. 

Florence said, “I didn’t plan for this to become my life. All I knew was that these children needed help and no one else seemed to be providing it.” Her vision is to eventually buy land, build a school, and be self-sustaining so they never have to turn a child away. Florence said, "There is only so much you can plan. So after you've done the best you can, you take the leap and allow God to work His miracles."

 

Original article: https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/business/article/2001238450/we-quit-great-jobs-to-go-into-business-here-s-what-we-ve-learnt

More than a Hashtag: Daystar U.S.’s #WeeklySwahili Fosters Cultural Understanding

Jambo! By now, you may be familiar with our social media posts highlighting a Swahili word, coupled with the hashtag #WeeklySwahili. You may not know, however, that our #WeeklySwahili is about much more than hashtags, vibrant pictures and vocabulary. In fact, #WeeklySwahili is our way of embracing cultural understanding and promoting it to our followers, donors, friends, and family here in the U.S. that might not know about the diverse culture on which Kenya—and Daystar—is built.

Kwaheri is Swahili for Goodbye.

One of Daystar University’s music instructors, Hellen Mtawali, said in an interview with Salon Business Solutions magazine, “there’s no icebreaker like language; it does wonders” (2010). Her approach to using language in relationship building across cultures is a valuable example. When we take time to learn about another’s culture, including their customs, values and norms, in addition to language, we build a relationship that is significant and durable. Language is the key tool for breaking down boundaries that exist between people groups that would otherwise keep them separated.

We challenge you to make intentional strides in experiencing a bit of new culture in your own community. America is, after all, a huge “melting pot” with so many cultures to explore. Here are some ways to get started in cultural understanding:

  • Eat at a local, authentic restaurant and learn about the culture by talking with the employees, owners and chefs.
  • Learn common greetings in a language spoken by people in your community and use those new phrases to engage with those people. Whether you’re on a walk, at the store, or picking up kids from school, people are delighted to have others engage with them in their own language.
  • Be vocal about your positive experiences with other cultures. This is very significant for breaking down cultural assumptions that exist in your community.

We would love to hear about the adventures you take to build friendships across cultures. Please share them with us!

You can see more #WeeklySwahili posts by liking our Facebook page!

 

This post was originally posted on January 12, 2016. 

I Want to Be a Better Generation

We all treasure the experience of Afrizo: the joyful melodies, the rich voices, the colorful personalities that create a vibrant African experience.  But Afrizo’s songs and voices are more than just entertainment—they tell an ever-evolving story about how Daystar University in Kenya is impacting the entire African continent, one student at a time.

Every Afrizo song has a deeper message waiting to be discovered. It's often a message that reflects Daystar's dedication to educating Christian servant leaders to impact Africa. Let’s look deeper at one of Afrizo’ songs and see how it exemplifies the mission of Daystar University.

Recent news headlines stare us in the face and make us ask, “What is the world coming to?” “How did things get this way?” and “How can we change it?” Afrizo’s song “Mbukilye”—meaning “Lift Me Up”—challenges its listeners to stand up and be the answers to these questions. Listen now:

 

Asyai maitu makulya twiva, twasyata?
(When our parents ask us where we are, what will we say?)
Syana syitu syakulya, twaiva, twasyata?
(When our children ask us where we were, what will we say?)
Give me strength Lord, I want to be a better generation

Mbukilye (lift me up)
Nguma isyoke kwaku (so that all glory goes to you)  

I don’t wanna be the one that says I wish I knew
I don’t wanna be the one that tells my children sorry, no
So hold my hand Lord, lead me on
Hold my hand Lord, show me the way
Give me strength Lord, I want to be a better generation
Give me wisdom, I want to be a better generation

Mbukilye (lift me up)
Nguma isyoke kwaku (so that all glory goes to you)
Mbathime (bless me Lord)
Nguma isyoke kwaku (so that all glory goes to you)

I will lift your name on high, that is my desire
Glory belongs to you.

Manasseh Shalom wrote the words and the music to this meaningful song. In his native tongue, known as “Kamba,” he is challenging us to consider questions not commonly asked by the news headlines.

  • When our parents ask us, “Where are you and your generation? What are you doing to better this world?”—How will we respond?
  • How about 20 years from now? When our children ask us, “Where were you and your generation when all those things were happening?”—What will we say?

Manasseh says, “This song is a call to this generation to rise up, speak the truth, and act with integrity so that we can prepare a way for future generations.”  The Afrizo singers are members of the 5,000 strong student body of Daystar University. Each singer is pursuing a degree that will equip them with practical skills while rooting them in a Biblical worldview. Each singer also has a dream that is larger than the degree itself. These dreams, coupled with practical training and education, uniquely position them to be the answers Africa needs to bring hope and transformation to future generations.

Afrizo singer Carol excitedly shares that her dream is to start a school for street children and orphans so that they too can understand their worth to God and their role in society.)

Afrizo singer Carol excitedly shares that her dream is to start a school for street children and orphans so that they too can understand their worth to God and their role in society.)

Daystar’s alumni—approximately 18,000 individuals—are trusting God, asking Him “to hold their hands” and “lead them on” to bring transformation to their generation and the ones to come. Some are teachers doing exactly that. They are teaching Biblical values and practical skills to Kenya’s youth, which position the entire nation for a better future.

One alumnus, Dr. Henry Kyeyune, graduated in 1990 with a degree in communications. He sought to impact his generation through broadcasted Christ-centered media and through his own servant-like character, and he did so through positions at Trans World Radio, the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, and the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation. Dr. Kyeyune used his industry expertise and his passion for Christ to teach other young broadcasters at Daystar University for 12 years. He is dedicated to “helping students prepare to be those who communicate Christ effectively and creatively in diverse fields.”

"God placed a desire in my heart to train and equip other people, to have a positive, Godly impact on society.”

"God placed a desire in my heart to train and equip other people, to have a positive, Godly impact on society.”

Dr. Kyeyune recalls why he chose Daystar University: “What I really appreciate about Daystar—which is different from other institutions—is the Christian perspective it offers. Daystar has a philosophy of building servant-leaders for both the church and our communities. One of the things that we’ve had a problem with in Africa is having leadership with integrity. Daystar looks not only on the academic side but imparts values we need in our communities today.”

In Afrizo’s song “Mbukilye,” the parents and children of Daystar graduates hear an answer to their questions: “What are you and your generation doing to better this world?” “Where are you and your generation when all those things were happening?”  Daystar students and alumni are standing up and answering: “I am doing something to make this world a better place. I was actively participating in the transformation of Africa.”

They do so with humility so that “all glory goes to God.” When looking at the scope of Daystar’s alumni, we can see that God has answered the prayer sung in “Mbukilye.” It is a prayer to “lift me up” and “bless me, Lord.” God has done that by giving them favor in their jobs and using them to impact communities and generations.