We are preparing to open the orphanage as soon as we can get funding -- our monthly bills will be $1,700; our annual budget is about $22,000. We are seeking financial sponsors and partners, from within Sierra Leone and elsewhere, just as fast as we can. For now, Emmanuel supports the girls as a group as they stay living in their homes with their guardians. For the last four years, Emmanuel has provided each one with school fees, school uniform and shoes, and school materials (exercise books, study lamps and such).
The orphanage is called Home of Hope. For five weeks in August and September, the girls who will live here came together daily under my guidance. It was their break between school terms, and we spent two and three hours a day doing activities, laughing, sharing, practicing our English, learning to speak with confidence.
Every morning, we ate bread together -- slathered with mayonnaise, because that's how they like it. Sometimes we had sodas and biscuits (cookies), sometimes we had boiled eggs.
I didn't realize initially why the girls enjoyed the treats portion of our mornings -- because I just didn't know that all of them were arriving for our time together on empty stomachs. Then, I understood the severity of their home lives.
In Sierra Leone, it's a rare household in which children have something to eat in the morning, or later at school. Mostly children might eat a bowl of rice with some sauce once a day. When there's not enough money in the household to buy rice, the children go to bed hungry.
Now, as I write this in early October, these 20 orphan girls are one month into the new school year. They don't have our morning group anymore, when they knew they would at least get bread with mayonnaise. Some of them who attend the nearest schools, stop by the orphanage before or after school to see what food I can give them. If I have eggs or bread or bananas or anything else on hand, it's theirs.
We are hiring a bus driver, and he will start "the school run" in early November. He will collect the girls from their homes and get them to the six schools they attend, then pick them up in the afternoons and deliver them home.
We don't want our girls going to school hungry any longer. We believe we can raise $1,000, or more, through this GoFundMe campaign, that will allow us to give each girl bread and an egg, plus something more for lunch, every school day. They would get their "food pack" every morning when they step on the bus, starting early November.
Can you help us do this? We can feed these girls on about $15 a day, for all 20. That's a modest amount per girl (less than $1 per day), and we can make adjustments as needed. But we can begin this way, and even add in a "weekend pack" for food items when the girls aren't at school.
If we raise $1,000 So Orphan Girls May Eat -- we hope to feed them using this food pack-style on the school bus for November and December. For January 2018, we hope to have opened our Home of Hope for good. Our goal is to bring our girls together to live in a protected, safe place where we all understand one thing: Love Lives Here.
You can follow my near-daily updates on our orphans' lives -- and my own new experiences -- in Kambia on my Facebook profile: Either follow me, or add me as a friend.
Thank you for reading, and for considering helping from afar. If you wish to donate by sending a check instead of using the GoFundMe system, I have someone living at my house in Lubec and checking my mail daily. Please write checks to myself, Katherine Cassidy, and these will be deposited locally. (My address is 5 Somersville Ave., Lubec, ME 04652).
Your contributions, via GoFundMe or by check-by-mail, will help our orphan girls in Kambia not have to go to school hungry. Emmanuel and I think about this every day, and we know how fortunate we are. Personally, it tugs at my heart when girls ask me for food, and I haven't got anything for them. Please help us change this, so we can give them food they can count on -- every morning, every day. Thank you!