My name is Larissa Vigil, I ran a program in Ngong, Kenya a few years ago transitioning young orphaned women out of an orphanage in a healthy and positive way. The program (Karama House) provided classes such as personal finance, culturally appropriate sex education, drug and alcohol abuse, nutrition, technology (typing and computer software skills), creating small businesses, etc. and opportunities which proved to be extremely beneficial for all those enrolled in the program. As an added incentive, we (who) decided to fundraise and put aside donations to send every participant who finished the program, to college.
The program progressed smoothly for a few months but as time went on, I became aware of abuse within the orphanage in which I was living at as the Program Director of Karama House. Unfortunately, the church that was our parent organization was also a large donor to the orphanage. When I started to raise my concerns to the church, they refused to listen to me. The more I tried to fight for the safety of not only the children at the orphanage but for the safety of the young women in my program, the more the church pulled away from the program and myself.
I was eventually forced to leave my new found home and friends due to the church pulling all of my donations and resources. When I got back, I was left empty handed and had to restart my life while still providing all of the funds to the young women enrolled in the program.
It has been 3 years since I left Kenya and am still financially supporting Deborah, the last woman in the program. Upon completion of Karama House, the promise was to provide her with the funds necessary to attend college. I have fully funded her college tuition fees since her acceptance to the University of Nairobi. In addition, I pay for her living costs. I have worked as a nanny for the past two years to support her and myself. I work 10-12 hours a day in order to keep us both afloat. I have spent over $20,000 in the past 2 years for her and as much as I would love to keep doing it, I cannot afford her last year ½ of her undergraduate degree. I have been waiting for the day for Deborah to graduate so that I too can finish college. I planned on finishing my undergrad in Kenya while working with the program but that never came to be. I have drained my savings and am no longer able to fulfill the agreement that she would have the opportunity to graduate from a university.
In short, I decided I needed to reach out to some of my peers to see if they could help a woman who has made it so far, and just needs a little more help to fulfill her dream of obtaining a college degree (which, before Karama House, was near impossible).
I have been sending her funds via Western Union because so far, that has been the least expensive way to get Deb the money she needs. I was really hoping to get a good non-profit to pick her up and enroll her in their fundraising programs but with no avail.
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