Updated: Dec 16, 2021
Alloyce Leonard, a CNA at Richmond Beach Rehab, started a school for children in Kenya. These students are orphans, and their caretakers cannot afford school.
Inspired by his childhood experiences
He was inspired to start the school from his own childhood experiences. Alloyce grew up in Kenya with over 20 siblings. With such a large family, Alloyce shared that sometimes it was a struggle for his parents to provide food.
He grew up in a humble grass house with mud walls lit by lantern lamps. He noticed other children attending a nice school and asked his dad if he could go too. His dad said they couldn’t afford it and provided advice that Alloyce remembers to this day:
“If you work hard in life, you can attain such a school for your kids.”
16 years of prayer
Alloyce prayed for 16 years for the opportunity to support children in their education.
But with Alloyce’s strong desire came fears. He worried the school would fail or that people would assume he was trying to rip them off.
He pushed through his fears after meeting Heather Pogue Duncan while singing in a church choir. Together they started the Victoria Watoto Fund in January 2019, beginning as a feeding program.
His younger brother, Stephen Odero, joined the organization in Kenya.
Opening the school
Using his own savings, Alloyce and his team opened Victoria Watoto Schools in January 2020. Then COVID-19 hit Kenya, and Alloyces initial fears of failure flooded back. The Kenyan government closed schools.
“When the Kenyan government opened the schools in 2021, you can’t believe it, it is not a year since the schools opened and we have 61 kids,” Alloyce shared.
Currently the school has play group, pre-primary 1, pre-primary 2, and first grade.
More than a school
The organization is more than just a school. They show the children love and provide food, in addition to a quality education. And the difference it makes is clear just by the looks on the children’s faces.
“You see fear and desperation of having nothing and knowing nothing, no smiles on their faces like you see their life is so hard,” Alloyce tearfully shared.
“Our teachers are really doing a good job and showing them the love and the care,” he continued. “Just within a few months, these kids, they are blossoming like a flower.”
The Victoria Watoto Fund also offers a soccer program for teenage girls, called Girls Empowerment. High school is expensive in Kenya, and not many parents can afford it.
Through this program, Alloyce and his team advocate for the teen girls and help the top soccer performers place in high schools.
So far they’ve placed three girls in schools and aim to continue placing more.
Advocate for family
Alloyce is not only helping children in need with their education but his own family as well. Alloyce dropped out of school while he was pursuing nursing to help fund his siblings’ education.
“It was two choices that I had,” Alloyce stated. “Either I go to school and they drop out or I drop out and they go to school.”