The Woman Behind “Caring for the Children of Africa”

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Annie
Annie

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.”

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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.

Lauro on a visit to Kenya in 2011.
Lauro on a visit to Kenya in 2011.

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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.
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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.
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Annie visits a family with AMKA.
Annie visits a family with AMKA.
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.
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A food drop for the 7,000 residents at Manjani Mingi IDP Camp.
A food drop for the 7,000 residents at Manjani Mingi IDP Camp.
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.”
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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!”
Annie with Irene, donating desks for a classroom at Manjani Mingi IDP Camp.
Annie with Irene, donating desks for a classroom at Manjani Mingi IDP Camp.
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2013 Voluntourism Dates Announced!

Great news! We’ve just announced the dates and itinerary for the 2013 Voluntourism trip! This is a fantastic opportunity to both see the beautiful land of Kenya and to serve. Be sure to check out trip details and feel free to contact us with any questions!

This trip is perfect for:

  • Families! We intentionally scheduled the trip between Summer Camps and the start of school so that families can participate. This is a fabulous and safe way to show your children another part of the world and for them to make lasting memories!
  • Teachers! Again, the scheduling of this trip allows teachers to be a part of it! More than half of the camp residents are children and we are seeking enthusiastic teachers to be a part of this experience!
  • Second time travelers! You may have gone on a safari in Kenya or another part of Africa, but this is a new experience for most travelers – even seasoned ones.
  • Professionals with limited time off! We pack a lot into this weeklong trip, this is a great way to both see and experience Kenya with just one week off of work.
  • Doctors! It’s a medical camp after all, your skills will certainly be put to use!

Eat So They Can in Kenya!

Contest winner’s from 2011’s Eat So They Can worldwide dinner party are now in Kenya distributing food and supplies with VICDA, GVN’s Kenyan partner.  Want to join them next year?  Host an Eat So They Can dinner to help raise funds for GVN Foundation’s many projects.  VICDA projects have benefitted greatly from this program ranging from school feeding programs to desks and text books.  Visit the Eat So They Can blog to read more!

Niamh, a volunteer at Happy Life

What’s more, GVN Foundation’s focus this month is KENYA!  GVN Foundation is partnering with Happy Life Children’s Home to bring attention to abandoned babies, a serious problem in Nairobi.  Stylish handbags are being sold through their website to benefit this fantastic project.  VICDA has been placing volunteers at Happy Life for several years and has a positive relationship with the organization.