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Education: The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Kate with her girls.

Education is the gift that keeps on giving, and Kate Fletcher is living proof of that.

As a young girl, Kate was left at a Philadelphia orphanage where the Sisters of Divine Redeemer provided her with an education. Today, Kate’s world is completely flip-flopped; she is the founder and Executive Director of Hekima Place in Kiserian, Kenya, providing a loving home and an education for orphaned girls from the streets of Kenya. Though she never had a child of her own during her youth, at age 75, Kate is the happy mother of 68 girls. The opportunity that Kate received as a young girl is rippling through East Africa as Kate’s girls graduate college in Business, Technology, and Law…

Kate’s story demonstrates the power of educating girls; she always says, “If you educate a boy, you will get an educated man. But when you educate a girl, you educate a community.”


This young woman was feisty but had a generous heart
The other girls admired her; she always did her part
Though she was very lonesome, and missed her family so
She wore a brave and happy face despite her deepest woe.

She was nine when her mother took her to the place where girls could stay
She wore her patent leathers and was the youngest girl that day
She started to unpack her bag and realized she couldn’t find
Some of the treasured keepsakes she’d hurriedly left behind

She gradually became accustomed to the life and the routine
And soon her sister joined her there; her sadness grew less keen
She soon became a leader; her classmates paid attention
But between herself and certain nuns there grew a palatable tension

She joined the order anyway and was sent to be a teacher
She was very entertaining; she spoke like a Protestant preacher
The children liked her very much and wished she’d be always be there
They couldn’t imagine school without her; it wasn’t at all fair

All these things prepared her for what she came to be
Even the saddest experiences enabled her to see
That the future truly is a hopeful replay of the past
That those early feelings are really meant to last

After she left the convent and became a working girl
She met her love, her husband who held her like a pearl
He soon came down with cancer and died at night in bed
As devastated as she was, she was thrilled with what God said.

One night when she was grieving she came across an ad
For volunteers in Kenya to help the children who were sad
They had lost their parents and families to a virus known as Aids
And our grieving woman went there and felt her sadness fade

It soon became apparent that girls lived worse than boys
So she stayed and rented property and gathered books and toys
And soon there was an orphanage of girls (from babes to teens)
Who without her help would live alone in filth like you’ve never seen

Now she has some sixty boarders, who live like a family
Taught to love and respect one another, they become as close as they can be
They try to break the pattern of pregnancy and birth
And they strive for a social conscience to mold the fabric of the earth

This truly is a woman who grew up straight and strong
Who is kind and good to children and brings them right along
If they have desires unfulfilled for lack of spunk
Why she provides it for them and down it comes- “Kerplunk!”

So now that I’ve told her story, you wonder who she is
She’s really quite a woman, full of spit, and laughs and fizz
She’s also quite attractive, always smiling and always late
There’s only one name that reflects all this, and that’s the name of KATE

-Poem by Kathy English

Hear Linnet Achieng, one of Kate's "daughters" talk about life before and after Hekima Place:

Kate Fletcher inspires me. Who inspires you?

This story was written for World Pulse’s Girls Transform the World Digital Action Campaign.

World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring girls greater access to education which will transform their lives, their families, and communities. The Girls Transform Campaign elicits insightful content from young women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as women, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
Learn more »



Nakinti's picture

Dear Hekima May God bless

Dear Hekima
May God bless Kate Flesher...may He continue to give her the power and strength to mother more girls.
I can see clearly how the gift of education keeps giving. This is such a wise saying.
Thank you Hekima for sharing this.
Sending you sincere love from Cameroon

Nakinti B. Nofuru
2013 VOF Correspondent
Reporter for Global Press Institute
Bamenda - Cameroon

Activechica's picture

A life well lived

Dear Hekima,

Thank you so much for introducing us to Kate and how she is not only helping fill a void and provide hope to Kenyan girls, but how she overcame the challenges that she has faced as a young girl. Your poem and video provide a moving testament to an incredible lady.

Thank you!

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