Friend and Co-founder of HTN Passes Away

Dear Friends of Heroes of the Nation,

Weston Gitonga, a beloved father, spiritual leader and co-founder of HTN, has died at the age of 61. He passed away peacefully in a hospital, surrounded by family, after his organs began to shut down. We are sad to say good-bye to this incredible man of God but grateful that he is without pain, in the arms of his Heavenly Father.

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Eighteen years ago, Weston and his wife, Violet, took in 8 children from their church who had been orphaned by AIDS. They provided for them, started a small school, and soon welcomed 7 others in dire need of shelter and education. When they met Andrew Sievright in 2002, it was clear that they had a heart for orhpans but needed additional resources to care for the hundreds of children-at-risk in Nyahururu Kenya. Together with Andrew, Heroes of the Nation was born.

Weston provided vision for Heroes of the Nation and was called ‘Dad Weston’ by the children. His large heart, deep laugh, and kind smiles were a safe place for hundreds of kids who needed a father figure. Over 1,300 children are either in, or have graduated from, this transformational organization.

Weston simultaneously co-founded Destiny Bible Colleges with Harold Eberle. Twelve colleges throughout Eastern Africa have developed and graduated thousands of pastors and leaders. Weston was a mentor and guide, becoming in essence, a spiritual Father of Africa.

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Weston served his country by running for political positions in both the Kenyan senate and parliament, as he wanted to see Godly men and women serve inside of government and create real change that would bless the Kenyan people.

His heart for the marginalized led him to seek out a Massai tribe who needed care for their abandoned children. As the tribe saw Weston and HTN practically care for the least among them, they saw the love of Jesus. The whole tribe came to know Jesus as a result of the practical demonstration of love.

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Weston was a great man of God, sacrificing himself for others, traveling all over East Africa to comfort, enlighten, impart and restore, establishing the Kingdom everywhere he went.  Weston Gitonga was a true Apostle of Africa, and leaves an immense amount of fruit that will bring honor to his name forever.

The Bishop is survived by his wife Violet Waithera Gitonga, his son Sam West Kareri, his daughter Joy, his granddaughter Samera, and his grandsons Ty and West. A Funeral service and burial will take place in Nyahururu on Saturday November 10th.  All who knew the Bishop are welcome to attend the service in the Nyahururu stadium, beginning at 10 am.  A private burial will follow for family and very close friends.

Anyone wanting to watch Weston’s stadium funeral service can watch it on HTN’s Youtube live stream: http://bit.ly/FuneralWGitonga On Friday, November 9th at 9PM Pacific Standard Time.

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Gifts for his surviving widow, Violet Gitonga, can be given through https://htn.org/give-now/  Please specify the nature of your gift and 100% will go directly to Violet.

Violet Gitonga will continuing running Heroes of the Nation, as she has done with excellence for the past years.

School at Heroes, Part 1

When an Orphan Comes to Heroes

HTNpics slum2.jpgAdmittance to Heroes of the Nation means things were not easy for you. Chances are, if you’ve found your way to us, it’s likely you’ve spent a fair amount of your life up until that point looking for your next meal and a safe place to sleep.  In some cases, you may have not even know your own name or your family’s name.

HTN slum.jpgWe welcome these vulnerable children, and given time, they not only relax and begin to be kids again, they start to see who they are, that their future is bright, that dreaming is a part of a healthy lifestyle, and they begin to carry hope. They become part of a strong, new “tribe” of builders and leaders, where warm, healthy meals, a loving community, and lots of new friends make the transition a quick one for most of our kids.

HTNpics (1224).jpgThe counselors and teachers at Heroes of the Nation have a special understanding of the unique challenges our kids face when they join the Heroes family. The grief. The fear. The uncertainty.  The teachers become their new parents, who guide them to the Lord, providing the love and safety that every child needs. It is within this environment of love where every child is known and accepted that the healing process takes place.

HTNpics (1145)Our young Heroes are taught about God and what He’s done in giving us Jesus. They begin to see themselves as extraordinary, set apart, fully accepted and loved by their Heavenly Father, the God of the universe! It doesn’t take long for each child to adopt the core values of Heroes of the Nation, where their Heavenly Father is always in a good mood, always loving, and very personal.

HTNpics (823)The prophet Isaiah wrote something profound a few thousand years ago in Chapter 61 that we believe applies perfectly to our children. Isaiah prophesied that Christ would preach good news to the poor, heal their broken hearts, proclaim liberty to those in captivity, and open doors for those bound in prison. He comforts those who mourn, giving them a garment of praise in exchange for the spirit of heaviness. So that they may be called Trees of Righteousness, the Lord’s planting, that He may be glorified.

Trees of Righteousness.jpgThese Trees of Righteousness are the ones who will rebuild the old ruins, raise up the former desolations, repair the ruined cities and the desolations of many generations. Everlasting joy shall be theirs! We believe and prophesy this over our Heroes, and thank God for every opportunity we have to cultivate the ground beneath them.

Visit our website to read more about our vision for Heroes of the Nation, to sponsor a child, or to partner with us  as we raise up these precious ones to take their place in the world.

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Where Donations go at Heroes

Cups2.jpgThough this entry was originally posted last November, the information bears repeating. Enjoy!

With around 500 kids on campus and over 30 in college and university, donations made to Heroes of the Nation are spread thin and wide these days! Providing three meals a day for that many mouths plus giving them a special mid-morning tea and/or porridge is no small feat, and this past year it has been especially challenging as drought and famine have caused a huge increase in food prices. Our African Director, Violet Gitonga, has had to balance need and availability, but even so, the extra costs put a $22,000-dollar strain on our budget.

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A stall at the local market

We’re grateful to the men and women who barter on our behalf to provide us the best deals they can find, and they’ve had to go far beyond Kenya to find the staple foods for our Heroes–in some cases all the way to Brazil! Maize, rice, and cabbage are in the highest demand, but thanks to these faithful partners who walk beside us and make sure we have what we need, our kids never had to go without.

HTN SchoolBesides food expenses, there are significant costs associated with educating students as well. We have an amazing staff of 60-plus people, 22 of whom teach and train the children from preschool through high school. All of our teaching staff are college educated and hold various degrees from early childhood education to a Master’s degree in Biology. These dedicated people pour out on our kids daily, and are literally available 24/7 to our students, as 90% of our staff live on campus, too.
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And then there’s electricity, water, and internet access along with general repairs and maintenance of the 10 acre campus, and of course clothing and general hygiene items for our children. Imagine the soap and toothpaste needed for 500 children! Violet and her staff never cease to do the impossible with what they are given, always relying on God to provide above and beyond and in every way imaginable.

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When a donation is given, it follows a specific route. Funds that are designated for a particular need are  applied to that project only. Likewise, 100% of any money given to our child sponsorship program goes directly to that purpose. We track all donations through Quickbooks, holding back anything earmarked for specific projects, and sending out those funds as a project progresses. Gifts that are not specifically earmarked for a project or budget area are applied at the area of greatest need.Group of Boys 2006.jpg

Giving is an easy process through our wesite at www.htn.org,  and Heroes of the Nation is a registered 501(c)3 organization, so all gifts are tax-deductible. You can also help sponsor a specific child. Visit Meet the Children to learn more. And thank you for helping raise up these young heroes!

 

 

Abigail: friend to Heroes

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Abigail and friends

It was 13-year-old Abigail’s lifelong dream to serve as a short term missionary. So when a family friend mentioned that their eldest daughter would be heading to Kenya with a team from Bethel Church in Redding California, Abigail’s parents knew it was an opportunity for Abigail to begin realizing that dream.

She saved for a while before she had enough to make the two week trip to Kenya to serve at Heroes of the Nation. Her mission teammates ranged in age, but she was one of the youngest of the 17 person team. She didn’t know the leader or 90% of the people who would be on the trip, but when the time came, courageous Abigail flew from Toronto to meet that leader and a few team members in Amsterdam. Turns out, she was so focused she didn’t have an opportunity to feel nervous!

Her team leader said, “It was a priviledge to have Abigail on the team. She proved herself to be a powerful and reliable team member, full of joy and committment to the mission.” God moved in Abigail’s life while on the mission, and it seems that Abigail and Heroes will just not be the same.

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L to R: Grade 8 Teacher, Mr. Bierman, Representative from the local bank who sponsored/gave the peace in action award/ $100, Abigail, and School Principal, Mr. Cameron.

Upon returning from her time at HTN, Abigail took it upon herself to fundraise for an improvement project underway at Heroes. The classrooms in the primary school need new floors, and Abigail knew just what to do to help it along. With the encouragement of her parents, Steve and Deb Atkinson, Abigail pulled together items for a yard sale which raised over $640 for the floor replacement project. She also decided that she wanted to participate in the child sponsorship program and immediately signed up to sponsor one of the sweet girls she met while at Heroes, Now she writes letters to her new little sister at Heroes, Linet.

AA.jpgAbigail wants to join another mission trip next spring, and she’s  working and saving money to make sure that happens! We at Heroes of the Nation want to honor and thank this special girl for her contagious enthusiasm about what God is doing at Heroes of the Nation, and her desire to impact the lives of orphaned and abandoned children. What a gift she is to the world!

A Letter from Jeremiah

Jeremiah_Imon_2I am Jeremiah Ectela Imon, and I am 24 years old.

When I was 8-years-old, my parents died of pneumonia and typhoid. Along with my litle sisters, Mary and Pauline,  who were really just babies, I was left under the care of my grandma. She loved us, but could not not make ends meet because she was too old to do any work. So I had to drop my primary education and be a herdsboy in order to get some cash to feed all of us.

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Jeremiah in 2006, grade 6

We came to know about Heroes of the Nation through our village pastor, and in 2004, Heroes of the Nation became our father and mother. I went into grade 4 there and finished primary and secondary school at Heroes. Among so many things I learned, I discovered that I love to sing.

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Jeremiah at 14, 2010.

Not only did HTN educate me, they taught me how to live well in the society and become a light to my generation. They also introduced me Jesus, and I became born again. This is the best thing that ever happened in my life.

Currently, through the support of  Heroes of the Nation, I am a third year student doing my dream course, a bachelor in Journalism and Community Development at St Paul’s University.  Meanwhile, Mary is in grade 12 and Pauline is in grade 10 at Heroes Academy, and they are doing so well.

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At University, 2018.

All this is a dream come true! Getting from zero to becoming a hero–I don’t know what words to put across to thank everyone in Heroes of the Nation. I give so much thanks for Dad Weston Gitonga,  Violet Gitonga, and my beautiful sis, Kari Marte, (who has always been on the ground to see that not only my daily routine is alright, but but also that of all the children and students of Heroes of the Nation. I can’t believe who I am today.

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Mary and Pauline

My dad, Andrew, I know it’s long since the last time I saw you way back when I was in primary school, but I do always pray and recall your face. To mum Susie, just the other day you paid a visit to the university that I am in. I love you all so much and can’t thank you enough for your efforts, prayers, and support.  I promise through God’s strength I will work smart and become a blessing to my home, Heroes of the Nation and the society at large. God has been faithful, and I can testify He is a Living God. As long as He is on the throne, we are world conquerers! I am looking forward to finishing my studies, graduating, and get a good job so that I can help my sisters throughout their studies.

God bless you all.

Jackline’s Story

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Jackline

On her tenth birthday, my mom was given as a bride to my father. As his youngest wife, it was her job to have children and shepherd his herd of goats and cattle. So, just before my mom turned eleven, I was born in a small hut made from sticks and mud deep in the remote bush lands.

My mom tells me she was afraid much of the time. There wasn’t enough food, barely any water, and nowhere to turn for help because within my tribe, it is the husband who decides what the wife can do and where she can go. But after the birth of my little sister, Diana, my mom made the decision to escape her situation.

With hope for a better life for us, she walked 113 kilometers with my little sister and I on her back, to the town of our grandmother and home of a local pastor. Pastor Daniel is a good man. He helped my mom go to school while his wife helped my grandmother care for me and my sister. Then grandmother died, and Pastor Daniel helped us to come to Heroes of the Nation to live.

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Diana

Our lives are much different now. At Heroes of the Nation we have everything we need: food, shelter, safety, and a really good education. Our school scored #1 in the region this year, and we are only getting better! I love science and math, and I want to be a doctor when I grow up.

Last year, my mom graduated from high school. Now, through the Heroes Post-Graduate Endowment Fund, she is earning her degree in Early Childhood Development so that she can be a teacher in the same community where I was born.

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My brave and beautiful mother, Evrlyne

Though I miss my mom when we are apart, Diana and I spend a lot of time with her during school breaks when we visit our tribe and see family and friends. When we are there, we see that change is needed in our community.

My mom and Pastor Daniel are making a difference there, and my sister and I will too, thanks to all that we have received at Heroes of the Nation.