In the 1990s, Africa faced the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS, leaving behind millions of orphaned children. Witnessing this plight in Kenya while volunteering at an orphanage, Ken Prussner realized that high school-age orphans faced huge challenges in getting an education. How could they thrive when high school was already a luxury for many Kenyans?
In July 2003, inspired by a friend, Ken registered STARS Children Africa as an IRS 501-C-3 organization. Their vision was to see the lives of African orphans and their communities transformed. STARS Children Africa believes that orphans can become STARS: Students Transforming Africa and Renewing Its Society.
Since then, in partnership with St. Luke’s Ministry in Kenya and with the unwavering support of dedicated donors, STARS Children Africa has been on a mission to educate and mentor orphans to become servant-leaders. For 20 years, we have empowered 118 Kenyan orphans to pursue high school and college education.
One of our core values is the belief that character development must go hand in hand with education. That’s why STARS also receive guidance and practical life-skills training, including annual mentoring trips to Kenya led by Ken and other volunteers (until COVID-19 hit in 2020.)
It gives us great joy to celebrate 20 years of creating a brighter future for orphans, transforming lives, and making a positive impact on communities across Kenya.
STARS Children Africa Has Educated 118 Orphans and Impacted 1000+ More in Kenya
Together with our donors, volunteers, and Kenyan partner, St. Luke’s Ministry, we have traveled hundreds of thousands of miles, navigated political instability, and overcome COVID-19 to “educate one, change many.”
Here is a summary of our impact from July 2003 – June 2023:
- 1000+ lives impacted through STARS alumni funding, teaching, or mentorship.
- $443,267 was raised from donors.
- 478 years of high school and college education provided.
- 118 started high school,
- 46 girls went to high school, which they traditionally do not get to do.
- 89 orphans graduated from high school with 11 in high school now. (The other 18 dropped out due to poor grades or character issues.)
- A number of micro-businesses and community services have been started by STARS alumni in their communities.
Celebrating Our STARS Alumni
We are honored to share the experiences of our incredible STARS alumni (collected from a 2023 survey). Many of them are married with families and changing the lives of other orphans in their communities. These remarkable individuals have been making a difference for an average of four years in various fields, including pharmacy, teaching, engineering, social work, sales, ministry, and public administration.
Their favorite memories include cherished times at St. Luke’s with fellow STARS, the support of St. Luke’s pastor and his wife, our dedicated sponsors, and the joy of serving the community, repairing and cleaning homes for widows. Graduation day remains one of the most cherished milestones for them.
“Baba Ken’s” (Uncle Ken’s) teachings on the meaning of FEAR (“false evidence appearing real”) have left a lasting impact on their lives. Mentorship, praise, worship, and prayers at St. Luke’s Church have also played a significant role in shaping their journey.
Seven valuable life lessons they want to share with the world are:
- “Put God first in whatever you are doing.”
- “Humility and hard work plus discipline are key to success.”
- “Be courageous and have integrity.”
- “Respect and help one another.”
- “Value patience.”.
- “My society needs me to transform and change it.”
- “Service to the community is a service to God.”
The road to achieving their dreams was not without challenges. Low self-esteem, poverty, adjusting to boarding school life, academic pressure, tribalism, student strikes, and overcrowded classrooms were some of the obstacles they faced. However, they overcame these hurdles with resilience and determination.
Thanks to the support of STARS Children Africa, which provided school fees, uniforms, and a nurturing environment, along with the encouragement from friends, peers, teachers, and the guidance of Pastor Joshua and Mama Abigael at St. Luke’s, they found the strength to rise above their challenges. Regular meetings with STARS at St. Luke’s, Ken’s visits, and uplifting communications were beacons of hope and assurance for their mental well-being.
We are filled with pride and gratitude for what our STARS alumni have overcome and who they have become.
A STARS’s Unique Journey: Stories Of Inspiration
Each of the STARS is more than an orphan; they are invaluable and irreplaceable people with unique experiences and gifts. Here are seven of their stories.
Beryl: From Shy Student to Inspiring Teacher
Beryl, an original STARS member, was incredibly shy and came from an extremely poor background. With the support of STARS Children Africa, she completed her university degree and became a business teacher. Despite her quiet demeanor, her character shone brightly. She organized relief supplies for families affected by floods and fires, making a significant impact on their lives. Beryl also dedicated herself to inspiring poor students, especially girls, and continues to bring about positive change.
Faith: Breaking Kenyan Female Stereotypes
Faith, one of the first 55 STARS, dreamt of becoming Kenya’s first female commercial pilot. In high school, she excelled academically and led by example. She became the drama club president, and won a French language contest, earning a trip to France. After high school, Faith secured a four-year undergraduate scholarship in the USA. She then went on to complete her Ph.D. on scholarship with Ken and his wife proudly attending her graduation. Faith is currently an Assistant Professor and funds other STARS through STARS Children Africa inspiring others with her journey.
Gordon: A Hardworking Student Turned Generous Supervisor
Gordon, an original STARS member, was a hardworking high school student with strong character. With a scholarship from STARS Children Africa, he graduated from college and pursued a career in pharmaceutical sales. His leadership skills led him to become an area supervisor. Married with children, Gordon generously supports St. Luke’s efforts to serve widows and orphans, making a difference in their lives.
Humphrey: From Torn T-Shirt to Dedicated Teacher
Humphrey, an original STARS member, became a teacher thanks to STARS’ support. He touched hearts when he spoke about how STARS helped him by providing food and paying his fees. He graduated from university with a teaching degree in geography. As a teacher, he voluntarily tutors and counsels underprivileged students, making a difference in their lives.
Kevin: A Lifelong Champion for Education
Kevin, an original STARS member, excelled academically and pursued engineering graduating from university on a STARS’ scholarship. He remains committed to helping others and raises funds for school improvements. Despite facing chronic health challenges, he champions education and uplifts the less fortunate by investing his time, talents, and funds in his old primary and high schools.
Steve: A Shy Student Becomes a Servant Leader
Steve, an original STARS member, graduated in pharmacy and evolved into a servant leader. He makes a difference in church, work, and home. Alongside his wife, he supports and educates a female orphan providing her with a future that her local village will not.
Moses: A Giving Heart and Dedication to the Community
Moses, an original STARS member, graduated in pharmacy and now runs a neighborhood pharmacy business. He supports his family and helps widows, orphans, and students in need near his home and supports “junior Stars” via St. Luke’s Ministry.
These STARS alumni exemplify the impact of education and mentorship. Join us in celebrating and supporting STARS Children Africa as we continue to change lives.