Bethlehem Home Academy opened in October of 2010 in scrap-metal buildings with dirt floors. Straw to Bread contributed school tuition for 25 orphans. Since May 2013, that number has more than tripled. Bethlehem Home Academy students have been sponsored by generous donors for school tuition, uniforms, health insurance, and one meal a day. Three permanent classrooms have been built, and the school is the only primary school with a library, a Straw to Bread project that supplied the building, a separate reading room, and over 5000 books.
In 2016 Bethlehem Home Academy had its first full complement of students from 3-year-olds to eighth grade. Every one of the Bethlehem Home Academy eight-graders was part o the top 5% of children in Kenya who passed the national exam that would allow them to go on to high school. Each of these eight students also has a Straw to Bread sponsor who supplies funding for tuition, room, board, uniforms, books, and personal items. The class graduating from BHA in December of 2017 also had a high level of success on the national exams, and seven of the eight students will go on to secondary school a life-changing opportunity.
Much of the school’s success is due to its highly qualified and visionary head teacher, Justus Onyongo. In 2017, Straw to Bread’s Board of Directors voted to raise funds to bring teacher salaries in line with government schools in order to hire and keep the very best teachers. There is a new effort to integrate the teachers into the vision and mission of Bethlehem Home.
These motivated teachers have recently developed an entire curriculum for health education, including reproductive and life-skills. They are also collaborators with Straw to Bread in providing the Bethlehem Home Academy girls (and the older graduates now in boarding school) with sanitary supplies that allow them to stay in school instead of missing class each month. BH women have developed a more permanent solution by starting a cottage industry to produce underwear with reusable sanitary pads. The Straw to Bread effort to support this project is called “Threaducation.”
On their own, some of the Bethlehem Home Academy teachers recently sought out local girls who had dropped out of school and befriended them, in order to support them and teach them simple skills.