DeKalb – One of the best parts of being a Rotarian is to see the tangible effects of our projects in the local community. It’s a good feeling to see hard work and donations make a difference in people’s lives. Sometimes, however, international projects lack that same kind of satisfaction. We often send donations or a small group of volunteers to the site, but for the most part we rarely see the effects with our own eyes. The Kishwaukee Sunrise Rotary received an unexpected surprise though, that brought the impact of an international project right back to them.
 
Kishwaukee Rotarian Andrew Otieno and his wife Theresa Wasonga founded a girls’ school in Kenya called the Jane Adeny Memorial School (JAMS). A detailed account of the founding of the school can be found here. The motto of the school is “Educate girls, transform the world!”. The school opened with 12 students in 2011. The Kishwaukee club provided some financial support for specific ventures, such solar panels for the classroom buildings, but in 2015 five regional Rotary clubs combined to secure a $60,000 Rotary International grant for the school, which is being used today to develop entrepreneurial initiatives in the curriculum.
 
The Kishwaukee club was exceptionally surprised, however, when Andrew brought a young student named Revela Odhuno to a meeting recently. Revela is a recent graduate of the school and is now attending college at Northern Illinois University.

 
 
Revela lost her mother in 2006 and her father in 2012. Raised by her aunt, she was encouraged to go to JAMS, as she was not attending any school at the time. Through the support of a sponsor in the U.S., Revela was able to attend and graduate in 2016. Revela said, “I didn’t know who was paying for me to go to school or how it was all working – I just told “Go!”, so I did. I found out about the sponsor in my third semester.”
 
Revela aspires to be a nurse. There is a shortage of nurses in Kenya and she hopes to return not only to help in that capacity, but to “influence the entire community and, one day, my country” in the area of public health. Her ambition and drive are noticeable when you meet her. Now finishing her first semester in the United States, Revela faces the same challenges all students do, but her transition challenges are more difficult in many ways. She said, “the food is much different and it’s starting to get very cold, but I have many friendly faces around me.” Revela lives with the very same sponsor who paid her tuition costs at JAMS and visits Dr. Otieno many times a week at his office on NIU’s campus.
 
In this case, the impact of an international project was made quite apparent with Revela’s arrival in DeKalb, IL. John Jencks, president of the Kishwaukee Sunrise Rotary club said, “What a special treat to meet Revela and to know that young girls like her are benefiting in such an important way from Rotary’s donations and the efforts of Andrew and Theresa.” To learn more about the school go to http://jamskenya.org/.