Once again, Caring for the Kids of Kenya (USA) has assisted IDP children in by outfitting Manjani Mingi Primary School in Rongai with 82 new desks earlier this month. The desks will serve the 246 children in attendance where they can now sit comfortably at 3 children per desk. To date, VICDA partners have donated close to 400 desks to school children at Manjani Mingi and have thus assisted in their education.
In mid-November Irene, VICDA’s founder and executive director, had a small request: to fundraise in order to provide Christmas dinners to the 331 families at Manjani Mingi IDP Camp. For about 450 Kenyan Shillings (about $5.50 USD) Irene hoped to purchase a half litre of cooking oil, a kilo of lentils, a packet of chapati flour and a few biscuits for the children for each IDP family in residence. She sent out this request, via email, to a couple of supporters around the world and each former volunteer and supporter worked to fundraise in their own corner of the globe.
The result was nothing short of a Christmas miracle! Irene’s original goal of raising 148,950 Kenyan Shillings (about $1860 USD) to feed the 331 families was completely crushed when nearly 300,000 Kenyan Shillings (about $4,000 USD) of support came in! With the money raised over 700 families at Manjani Minig, Lemolo A and Lemolo B were able to celebrate Christmas this year. For many of these residents, they haven’t been able to celebrate Christmas since 2007, several of the children in the community have absolutely no memory of Christmas celebrations.
A note from Irene, sent out Christmas morning to donors along with several photographs:
Hello VICDA Partners and Friends,
Thank you for embracing the appeal made for Christmas celebrations for the families at Lemolo. Thank you again for entrusting me and VICDA team with your finances.
You have remained very precious and dear to us and your Chrismas gifts have been overwhelming. You gave more than we expected for and due to your giving all the 700 families (4,700 persons) will joyously be celebrating their Christmas. Apart from your kind and cash donations for the foods and clothing; we also received two special Christmas gifts from two of the donors which mean a lot to the Lemolo families. They donated cash for building of a pre-school (attached pics of ongoing pre-school construction) and piping of water for both Lemolo A and B. Some of you also decided to donate your cash towards Christmas gifts for the children homes in VICDA’s program; I am so much overwhelmed with your commitments and support towards VICDA work.
I started a journey and you took the risk of following me not being sure where I will lead you to. Thank you for remaining faithful towards your giving and you make things happen. As you celebrate your Christmas holidays please take good care of yourself and do not compromise your joy/happiness for anything.
Happy Holidays – Enjoy your Christmas and Happy New Year.
Please find the attached photos of your Christmas gifts.
Irene and VICDA Team.
It’s amazing what can happen when people come together from all over the world with a common goal. Christmas wishes from sunny Australia, snowy USA and nearby Nairobi were all felt at Manjani Mingi. On behalf of VICDA, thank you to all who donated to make this the merriest of Christmases for these 700 families. And a special thank you to the kind donors who are piping water to the camp and constructing the preschool at Lemolo. These are gifts that will be appreciated for generations to come!
Annie Copley of Adelaide, Australia first journeyed to Kenya as a GVN volunteer in 2006. Little did she know, the three months spent counseling HIV/AIDS patients in Nairobi’s slum areas would completely change the direction of her life. “This work has not only changed my life, it has become my life,” says Annie, ” I have a deep sense of gratitude today for the people of Kenya who, with their quiet strength and hope, teach me about real love, patience and tolerance.”
Not long after her return to Australia Annie and her dear friend, Lauro Martire, hosted their first fundraising dinner at Lauro’s restaurant, East Terrace Continental. Held in November of 2007, that first dinner raised $11,000 – funds that were sent to VICDA at a time of great need, following the election violence of December 2007. With the money raised by Annie and Lauro’s dinner, VICDA was able to purchase mattresses, blankets, food and cooking supplies for recently displaced Kenyans in the Rift Valley.
This successful dinner was the start of Caring for the Children of Africa, a registered non-profit run by Annie and directly benefited by several of VICDA’s projects. Annie credits much of the organization’s success to the many donors and supporters who have assisted along the way but it was her collaboration with Lauro that started the wheel in motion. “Lauro has generously supported the work that I began in 2006 when he agreed to hold our first dinner in 2007. Like me he has fallen in love with the people of Kenya and I am sure he will return one day when his busy schedule allows.” Annie’s 2011 trip to Kenya was especially memorable as Lauro was able to come along and see first hand all of the good work the organization has been able to do.
Since its inception, Annie and her donors have raised about $110,000. With these funds, Annie’s organization has helped tens of thousands of people in Kenya. They’ve funded mobile medical camps, major food drops, ongoing porridge programs in several IDP Camps, renovated classrooms, purchased desks and books and have supplied two orphanages (Shelter in Nairobi and Haven of Hope in Nakuru) with ongoing food and school supplies.
Each dinner fundraiser is carefully thought out and planned by Annie and Lauro. She presents photos and stories of real Kenyans whom she’s met and discusses with her guests about the specific ways in which the funds will be allocated. “At our dinner last month, I presented one of the many recent stories where we were able to relocate a beautiful family, HIV patient Evelyn, with her 3 small children, from an extremely dire living situation in the Nairobi slums of Ngando.” Annie is full of emotion when discussing Evelyn. “They were living in a torn, leaking, muddy tent literally on the side of a railway track – so dangerous for the toddler who could have easily have fallen onto the tracks. We rented a one bedroom ‘shack’ for her near St Josephs, run by the AMKA project. It’s a clean, safe, and secure abode for her and her children.” Caring for the Children of Africa continues to support Evelyn and her children, along with other families Annie has grown to know and love over the years.
The $13,000 raised at their most recent dinner held last month will go toward to construction of Lemolo Nursery School for the IDP children at Manjani Mingi Camp as well as continue a daily porridge program. “A lot of these kids in the camps still go hungry,” Annie explains, “the porridge program ensures that they at least get one nourishing meal a day.”
Annie works with Irene, VICDA’s founder and executive director, to determine the greatest need and personally distributes the funds and supplies on the ground – all the while keeping detailed notes to share with her donors. With her seven trips to Kenya Annie has been able to forge close relationships with many of the IDP residents and patients at AMKA, an HIV/AIDS counseling center where Annie first worked in 2006. Her obvious love for the people of Kenya is reflected in her ongoing dedication and commitment to the cause. “I know I’m going to die in Kenya someday with a big smile on my face,” says Annie, “because this is the work that makes my heart sing!”