When people find out that I’m a teacher, they often tell me that teaching is a “noble profession”.

Teaching can be exhausting work at times. The classrooms are crowded, the hours often reach beyond the school day and into the evening, sometimes parents are very demanding and difficult to deal with, and all of this is for less than desirable pay. But my complaints stopped when I met Joan (pronounced “Jo-ann”).

Joan’s story is like so many stories in Kenya. She was born in the city of Eldoret. Her mother was a single parent and Joan never knew her father. Later, when her mother married and moved to a different area, Joan was left with a grandmother. However, living in poverty, the grandmother could not provide the care Joan needed and turned her over to an orphanage.

Not long afterward, Joan’s mother died and left Joan a total orphan.

In 2007, a new CRF program for orphans was started in Eldoret under the direction of Francis Bii. One day soon after, he was approached by Joan. She had heard about the new ministry for the orphans. Joan knew right away that she wanted to volunteer there because she understood first-hand the struggles and challenges of being an orphan. Who would know better how to reach their tender hearts?

She faithfully committed her life to teaching in the most inhospitable environment; a small dirt classroom, long hours, no pay and being the parent that the children did not have. Many of the young children started at the school after emotionally traumatic experiences, and Joan was on the front lines pouring out love and care to these wounded little ones.

Why am I telling you Joan’s story?

Last week was Joan’s funeral. She died after a brief battle with cancer. She was 32.

When I met Joan 3 years ago, she was a paid preschool and kindergarten teacher at the Milton Jones Eagles Academy. Everyone who knew her – community, staff, and friends – would say that Joan had the most joyful spirit all the time. Her dazzling smile was what people often noticed right away. In fact, one of our missionaries there told me that he saw Joan a couple of weeks before she passed and that she was still happy and joyful.

James 1:2 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

Joan was the perfect example of this verse her entire life. And so we honor and remember her for giving all she had to serving others, especially the children. While we miss her dearly, we also know with confidence that this “good and faithful servant” is now spending eternity with our loving God.

I aspire to be like her. I’m not there yet, but she continues to challenge me every day.  – Julie Rawlins (CRF Board Member)



Joan gave her life to helping children in need.

Click here to donate to the Madam Joan Memorial Fund to continue her life-long mission of helping orphans in Eldoret.