My name is Gelise McCullough and I work for an International Agency in Geneva, my job takes me regularly to Kenya to work with people living with HIV. I started funding school fees in 2011 when I met Nancy in Nairobi. Nancy was born with HIV, and back then was aged 14 and not attending school. Nancy is my “first daughter” and from as little as 300 euros a year I was able to ensure that she completed her school education. Nancy graduated in 2016, and then went on to do IT training and get her driving license to not just drive cars, but buses and lorries on the busy streets of Nairobi!
In 2011, I also met Maurine Murenga, an amazing advocate for people living with HIV. Maurine runs a Kenyan NGO called ‘Lean on Me’, and as this is at the grassroots level Maurine makes sure that the money donated is just spent on the girls’ educational needs, that that is school fees, books, uniforms, shoes and sanitary pads. Maurine, through her NGO ‘Lean on Me’, also provides counselling and support to children and families living with HIV; she picks them up when they are down and really does provide them with someone to lean on.
After Nancy, I met Peace, Catherine, Michelle, Valentina, Yvonne, Molly among others, and so far, I have managed to sustain their school education costs through selling my artwork and sending the proceeds to ‘Lean on Me’. Despite the huge need I keep the project small so that it can be sustainable, but this year due to work commitments I have not be able to paint as much and I am calling on your help to keep the girls in school in 2019.
Here is a background link for the benefit of those who may not know the full history: www.gelise.org
Being HIV+ is stigmatizing and is frequently the key reason that children cannot attend school. The children are shunned by their community - and their families, who have suffered the devastating effect of Aids on their loved ones, don’t have the money to spend on education for them.
Securing access to school education is no guarantee in Africa, and by making a donation you will directly helps build the girls confidence, allows them to make better life-choices, and improves their physical and mental health. However, for true impact to happen, this support needs to be sustained year on year.
The funds from this crowdfunding will be transferred (from France) to Lean on Me Foundation (Kenya), she will make sure the girls fees are paid directly for the year and go with the girls to buy the uniforms and supplies.
Maurine and I want to keep 20 beautiful HIV positive girls in school in Kenya. Our vision is to empower young women, invest in their ideas and grow those ideas into long-term opportunities. To make these dreams come true an education is essential because education opens doors, it provides knowledge and skills to make the best choices.
It costs on average 300 euros to keep a girl in school, this includes fees but also essential school books, uniforms, shoes, one hot lunch a day, and sanitary towels, without which school is out of reach. We also fund the support groups.
To date the funds have been raised from Gelise's artwork and that of the girls (www.gelise.org), but this year we need your help - if the funds are not raised these girls will not be allowed back in school in January - the most important to us is not to let them down!
We are delighted that you are on this page and ready to donate, every little adds up to a lot. For donations of 100 euros or more we will send you a personalised hand print from one of the children on an original canvas. Please give generously - all the money goes straight to Kenya and is spent on girls educational needs.
Go to www.gelise.org to see how art has been used to raise funds, small things add up to a full up to a bigger picture. Watch the full interview of Maurine and Gelise and their plans to make this initiative blossom with your help.
If you are interested in commission or buying a painting get in touch.
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