Christ’s Gift Academy is a response to God’s heart and his Word which proclaims that true religion is to “look after orphans and widows in their distress.” (James 1:27)
Christ’s Gift Academy (CGA) began in a humble way with only a Nursery class of 20 orphans and a few volunteers. The school was started in 1997 by Don and Nancy Richards. They first came to Mbita as missionaries in 1995 to develop a Youth With A Mission (YWAM) Christian Environmental Base called Kenya Island Mission (K.I.M.); now called Suba Environmental Education of Kenya (SEEK). After being in Mbita for 2 years, they desired to help the orphans and needy children in the community who were not going to school. Most of them were orphans due to HIV/AIDS which has decimated the adult population of Mbita over the previous 2 decades. The children had either lost their father, or both parents, and hence, didn’t have the money to attend school.
Don and Nancy formed a committee of local Kenyans from the community. This committee organized everything and started the school in a church called Chrisco. The school started with about 20 children in Nursery and Pre-Primary (Pre-School and Kindergarten) and offered a Christian education at no cost. Most of the children were around 6-7 years old. After the first two years of Early Childhood Education, the CGA committee had to decide what to do with these children who were ready to begin primary school. The founders spent a lot of time praying and asking God for direction. It was decided there was a need to start a full primary school to give these children, and others, the opportunity for an education.
Judi Ewing (now Judi Cochran) came to Kenya as a missionary in 1999 and started preparing to open the primary school. Because Chrisco Church was small, they had to look for a larger building. CGA moved from Chrisco Church to the Baptist Church in 2000 and started the primary school with grades 1 and 2. Peter Ollimo was the first Principal of CGA.
In the year 2001, land was donated by Chief Onundo, Elisha Otieno and the Anglican Church. CGA began by building a dining hall/chapel and then classrooms. Each year CGA added a new class until a full Primary School, Nursery-8th grade, was complete in the year 2006.
In 2004, CGA formed its own non-profit organization based in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina and moved out from underneath the umbrella of Kenya Island Mission (K.I.M.). Judi married Steve Cochran and they returned to Mbita to serve with CGA. Steve became the Manager in 2005 and together they continued to oversee the ministry. Judi's background in education and heart for integrating Biblical teaching has been an invaluable resources over the years. Steve is a jack-of-all-trades with extensive experience in construction. The quality buildings and sensible layout of the campus are due to his skills. In 2003, Joe Peterson came to serve at CGA in the roles of math and Bible teacher, sports manager, Secondary School Program Coordinator and liaison to the U.S. and mentor to the students. Joe faithfully served CGA for 11 years when the Lord directed him and his wife to return to the U.S.
After much struggle with the District Education Board, CGA finally registered as a private primary school in Kenya in 2006. Cosmas Ongudi was the Principal during that time, followed shortly thereafter by Mr. Gwalla.
CGA’s first graduating 8th Grade Class took their National Exams in 2006. At that time, CGA was able to begin its Secondary School Sponsorship Program which helps to sponsor the students as they join various high schools throughout the country. That pioneer class took their Secondary School National Exams in 2010. Many of them, along with many others from subsequent CGA graduating classes, have continued their education in colleges and universities around Kenya.
For many years, CGA has been viewed as a quality Christian school. However, CGA is much more than that. CGA is holistic ministry which cares for the spiritual, physical, emotional, and education needs of each child. The Student Care Office was started to dedicate a social worker to focusing on the needs of the children and their families. The CGA Spiritual Coordinator develops a Scripture-based theme for each Term and each week in the school year, while every staff member is encouraged to disciple and mentor the children. Through the partnership with a local clinic, CGA pays for the medical care of all students who are orphans. In 2012, the farm began operation to provide fresh fruits and vegetables for the daily meals on campus.
We thank the Lord for His faithfulness and all the ways He has provided for and helped to expand the Gospel message through the ministry of Christ's Gift Academy.