Clem and Jane Nichols of Munfordville, Ky., joined the ChildFund community in 2001 by sponsoring eight children — four in Kenya, two in Honduras and two in the United States.
Jane, whom Clem readily admits is the letter-writer in the family, has corresponded faithfully with all of the children and also their mothers.
She keeps all of the children’s letters and photos in memory books. It is a joy when each new letter from a child arrives.
Now retired from their careers as a family physician and a teacher, Clem and Jane have focused on helping improve the education of their sponsored children and the livelihoods of the children’s families. The Nichols have traveled to Africa, Honduras and South Dakota to visit seven of the eight children.
Touched deeply by the children and their families, the couple decided to expand their giving beyond their monthly sponsorship commitment to each child. “We just want the families to be able to take care of themselves,” Jane explains.
Working through ChildFund, the Nichols began to identify the core needs of each family. In recent years, they have funded construction of homes for two of the children’s families who lacked homes of their own. They’ve also helped one child’s mother start a small business selling vegetables, fruit and charcoal.
“There is no way they can get the money together to buy extra things or start a business — they live from hand to mouth. They just need a little hand up,” Jane notes.
When ChildFund announced a study tour to Kenya in March 2010, Jane and Clem were among the first to sign up, eager for a reunion with the four children they sponsor in Africa: James, Eunice, Martha and Hilary.
In the weeks leading up to the trip, Jane and Clem gathered clothing, school supplies and treats for the children as well as sewing materials for the mothers.
Finally, the day of their reunion arrived. Tight hugs, emotional moments, laughter and long conversations ensued on a sunny day in Nairobi.
Inspired by their visit, Jane and Clem have purchased sewing machines for two of the children’s mothers so that they can take sewing lessons and improve their families’ incomes.
The Nichols are especially proud of the oldest child they sponsor — Hilary. Soon to be 18, Hilary is preparing to enter secondary school and dreams of continuing to college so that he can become a teacher.
Working with ChildFund, Jane and Clem intend to make sure that dream comes true.