So, after over 10 years of talking about it, this past February, I finally boarded the plane to Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. Bware is a small and beautiful community of 30,000 people located in the southwest part of Kenya about a 6 hour bus ride from Nairobi near the border of Tanzania. My friend Jeska’s family, and extended family members, still live in this small town. Jeska, who was also visiting Bware at the time, generously let me stay with her at her brother and sister-in-law's home. Their house had no running water, only solar electricity, no indoor bathrooms, and all meals were made outside over a fire.
Being a professional fund raiser, part of the reason for my visit to Kenya/Bware was to get to know the people in the community, assess the needs, and figure out how I could help. I visited 6 primary schools in the area. At each school, the teachers gave me a tour of their schools, showed me the classrooms, and introduced me to some amazing kids. Many of the kids I met were orphans, extremely poor but also extremely bright. In Kenya, if a family does not have the money to send their kid(s) to secondary school, they need to be ‘sponsored’ or they cannot attend and the cycle of poverty continues. In addition, many of the kids I met did not have their basic needs met (lack of food, shelter etc. and no access to amenities like fresh drinking water, toothbrushes, soap or even a bed to sleep on).
Below is a list of 11 kids who desperately need our financial help. Nine of them need our assistance to pay for high school. Without these funds, they simply will not be able to continue in school even though each of them is at the top of his/her class academically. They will literally lose their chance of ever having a better life.
With the help of my friends, family etc. I am hoping to raise $1,920 for tuition (including basic ammenitites) for each of these youth. These funds will provide: 1) tuition for all FOUR years of high school for 9 children and 2) plus school supplies like books, shoes, school uniforms as well as food and other basic necessities for survival like: water purification pills, food for lunches, tampons for the girls (this is a HUGE barrier for girls not attending school if not available) etc. In addition, there are two other talented, but needy ,younger children in primary school who also need our help to pay for basic neccesities over the next two years while they finish elementary school. I am committed to raise a grand total of $17,730 for these very special kids who, there is no doubt, each have potential to be tremendously successful.
I am asking each of you to look into your heart and give, whatever your circumstances allow, to help these kids. Your donation will be tax deductible as all dollars will run through the Ray of Hope Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit) started by my friend Jeska. I personally met all of the trustees who run Ray of Hope Kenya and they make sure every penny goes where the donor wants it to go. Each donor will also receive a tax deductible (Tax ID #20-0817019) receipt as well as an explanation of how your dollars were spent. Your gift of $50, $100, $250 or more literally will be life changing for these kids who otherwise will not be able to afford to continue with their education. Please note that I will be withdrawing the funds from this campaign directly into my personal bank account, and then will then deliver the funds to the Ray of Hope outside of GoFundMe. Thank you so much for considering this request.
Here are short bios of each of the 11 kids who are each among the brightest in their classes and desperately need our help:
Elvis Omondi (pictured below, a very sweet and shy boy who I met several times during my visit and became very fond of) attends Achuth Primary School. He is age 11 in class 2. His father died of AIDS and his mother of mental illness. He currently lives in a small hut with his grandmother and 6 other children (including two sisters ages 12 and 14; cousin 1.5 years old; cousin Elizabeth age 8); teachers say that he sleeps ‘on a rock’ while all of the other kids go home and eat lunch. He is best in his class, always. Because he is still in primary school, Elvis just needs $150 over the next two years ( I already donated the first $150) for basic neccesities. I took this photo of Elvis:
Laveder Achieng is also 11 years old. He is orphaned and lives with his grandpa. Like Elvis, Laveder is at the top of his class and still in primary school, so he needs funding ($150/year) over the next few years for basic neccesities.
Irene Mmboga: Irene is 14 Years old. She wishes to attend Nyabisawa Girls High School; she is currently in primary school at Achuth Elementary. She is the eldest child in a family of 4 children. When she was age 4 her mom died of a mental illness and Irene was then under the care of her maternal grandmother who was also mentally challenged. Her father deserted the family prior to her mother’s death and has never returned. This situation made Irene unable to talk until she was in class 5; in class 6 she was infected with jiggers (parasitic fleas that can actually rot your body) on her toes and fingers due to lack of proper nutrition and clothing. She then had to be in the care of her paternal grandmother who took in Irene in addition to her 10 other grandchildren. Irene is extremely bright and did her KCPE exams and scored 302 marks which is very high.
Denis Odhiambo attends Bware Primary and is 13 years old. He is the eldest in his family of 5 siblings. He is first in his class academically and, with our help, will attend high school next year.
Brian Odhiambo currently attends Bware Primary School. He is a 14 year-old orphan who lives with his grandpa and 3 siblings. Best in his class and hopes to attend high school next year. Here's his photo:
Karui Jackline is 14 years old and in 8th grade at Kisugunua Primary School. She lives with her mom, who is a single parent and a farmer. She has 5 siblings and hopes to attend high school next year.
Allan Vwavi Asimba is a 13 year old orphan who attends Sigira Primary School and lives with her mother and 6 siblings. He is best in his class.
Dorcus Akello is age 14, also an orphan and stays with Grandpa, top of class and hopes to go to high school next year.
James Nyunga is also in 8th grade age 15 and currently attends Kisugunua primary school. He lives with his sick father who is a single parent. He hopes to attend high school next year.
Sandra Neril who is 13 years old attends Sigira Primary School. She is an orphan and has 2 siblings. Best in her class. She hopes to attend high school next year. Here's her photo:
Musa Ndote is currently in class 8 age 14, lives with Grandpa. Very bright. Also hopes to attend high school next year.
Here are some additional pictures ofsome of the other cute and amazing kids I met while visitin Bware . . .
- Mary Kellner
- Jennifer Dean
- Meg Fencil
- Rachel Presti
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