FAFU Sponsorship Program Connects Children and Families Across the Globe

The New Canaan YMCA is proudly wrapping up the 2021-2022 school year of its sponsorship program with partner school, Facing the Future in Kibera, Kenya. Now in its fourth year, the sponsorship program provides individuals and families in our community with the opportunity to make a lifesaving and life-changing difference in the life of a fourth-grade child at FAFU. The community successfully sponsored each of the 39 students in the current FAFU fourth grade class for the 2021-2022 school year.

Facing the Future is a child development center serving 380 needy children in Africa’s largest slum, Kibera, Kenya. Students at FAFU range in age from preschool through middle school and are provided with a quality education, two meals a day, and medical attention. Kibera is not currently recognized as a formal settlement by the Kenyan Government, and therefore, there are no public services available, including schools. FAFU is viewed as an oasis for the children of Kibera—a place where children are provided with a safe space to learn, grow, and thrive. For many children, FAFU is the only consistent source of food and water. The New Canaan YMCA has partnered with Facing the Future since 2007, providing ongoing support for the students, teachers, and families.

Each year, the New Canaan YMCA’s sponsorship program pairs community members with a fourth-grade child at FAFU. Thanks to the generosity of this year’s sponsors, these vulnerable children have enjoyed meaningful relationships, along with educational opportunities, meals, school supplies, clothing, and medical care.

Executive Director, and Founder of Facing the Future, Simeon Ajigo shared, “Due to the loss of income caused by the pandemic, there has been an exodus of several families from the Kibera slum to the countryside. The New Canaan YMCA and sponsorship families’ generous donations for relief food to cushion vulnerable FAFU families from starvation and malnutrition indirectly halted the exodus of additional families leaving Kibera to move to the countryside. On behalf of the FAFU staff, FAFU board, and FAFU children and their families, we thank the New Canaan YMCA for their intervention in helping FAFU families stay in their homes within Kibera.”

In addition to the financial support that the sponsorship program provides, sponsors and their families are also given the opportunity to engage with their child throughout the year through the exchanging of letters and virtual meetings. The engagement opportunities foster meaningful connections and cherished memories for both the FAFU children and sponsors.

A 2021-2022 sponsor shared, “I so enjoyed seeing the beautiful smiling faces of Agnes and Stacy! They had so many questions about my work and hobbies, the names of my sons, the name of my dog, and my favorite flavor of ice cream! We even had some fun dancing and singing together. We sang together in English and then the girls sang to me in Swahili. Looking forward to future Zoom connections with our friends in Kenya!”

During the past school year, FAFU’s fourth-grade class also had the opportunity to experience two virtual American Folk performances by Nick Depuy, a local singer/songwriter, and New Canaan YMCA member.  The FAFU students also performed songs of their own for Depuy.   

“We are incredibly proud of our partnership with FAFU over the last 15 years and to continue offering sponsorship opportunities to fourth grade students each year in support of the Y’s mission for social responsibility. This meaningful initiative is a great opportunity for the community to give back and make a life-changing connection with our friends across the globe. We are grateful for this year’s compassionate sponsors’ time and financial support, so critical to building a better future for these precious children,” shared Margaret Riley, Executive Director of the New Canaan YMCA.

The Y is currently seeking sponsors for the upcoming FAFU school year, which begins in June. To learn more about FAFU, the sponsorship program, or to sponsor a child, visit www.newcanaanymca.org/fafu-child-sponsorship-program or contact Diana Riolo at 203-920-1653 or driolo@newcanaanymca.org.