An African Philanthropy Story

Here’s a story about how our well-laid African philanthropic plans went awry and how the kindness and experience of new found friends saved the situation and ensured some deserving children a little more food this year.

It all started when a dear friend of mine heard we were going to Kenya. She is the patron of an orphanage there and offered to fly in and take my daughter, Taylor, with her to visit while we were there.

Taylor offered to bring soccer balls and coloring books and learned that the kids need FOOD, not toys, which will get stolen or sold for food anyway. The best thing, our friend assured us, was to purchase the orphanage a cow – a sustainable food source (and a little harder to steal than a soccer ball).

Through a bake sale, some Facebook postings and the artful manipulation of her relatives, Taylor raised $800 in donations to take to Kenya to buy a few cows for an orphanage in Kakamega, Kenya.

While in Africa, our Orphanage-Patron Friend had a family emergency and couldn’t come to Kenya. We realized Kakamega was FAR from Nairobi, in the malaria-infested rain forest near the border of Uganda.

No way were Mom and Dad going there to deliver a few cows!

Alternate plans were hatched. We decided that our benefactors would be perfectly fine if we donated to a different orphanage, as long as the money went to feed needy children.

We wanted to make sure the money would go directly to the care of the kids, not into the pocket of some “director.” We heard stories of the corruption from our friends in Nairobi and we were so afraid, after all our hard work fund raising, that the donation might be “misdirected.”

One day, after coming home from the marvelous Giraffe Center (pics here), we drove by a sign, “Cheryl’s Childrens’ Home.” We stopped in and took a tour. They were well run and hospitable.

Still, who is the director? Can we trust them? Will they pocket the money?

We went back, after returning from our amazing Safari in the Masai Mara Game Reserve (pics here) and met with the Director, Samuel Sambuli and the Projects Team Leader, Kieren Barnes.

Not only did they impress us with their day to day operations, but with their vision for buying a plot of land to grow food, build a high school and create live-in foster care situations for some of their students.

They have an annual operating budget of $120,000, of which only $60,000 is secure each year. The $800 donation we wired to them when we got home will be a huge help to closing the scary gap they deal with every single day.

So to those of you who donated, thank you.

This money goes directly to feeding these adorable children.

One of the things I really liked about Cheryl’s Childrens’ Home strategy, is that in addition to orphans, they also take in indigent children. Samuel explained that it’s harder to feel sorry for yourself if you’re an orphan when you see children who HAVE parents who still need their support. It’s not the lack of parents that causes all the problems. Some kids who have parents are just as in need. He says that motivates the children to strive for more.

I encourage you to check out the website and consider sponsoring a child or a teacher.

For example, James Kanoga is utterly delightful and needs money to go to college – about $120 a month for tuition at a minimum.

The little children each cost about $45 per month to sponsor. You can choose one or let them pick for you.

They are all just precious as you can see from these photos.

To see more photos of the kids, the teachers, the orphanage and our photo-taking moments, CLICK HERE.

Taylor and I took pictures of each of the groups and gave them to them. I took a Canon battery-powered Selphy printer with me and gave these kids the first picture of themselves they ever had. They were thrilled! This is a picture of Taylor, surrounded by kids watching the photos print out.

We learned so much through out the whole process. Especially that it’s possible to make a difference directly to the source of need. If you want to help people, it’s so easy, and so rewarding.

Much love. Asante sana! (Thank you very much in Swahili.)

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