This is going to be a lengthy update that covers not only the amazing fund raising efforts here in Canada, but the amazing progress on the ground in Kenya and how the two are linked together.
I spent two weeks at the end of June in Kikima Kenya, working with Ruth, Henry, Kay, Elijah and Reverend Phillip. What I witnessed, and was part of, was truly amazing!
We are now providing support and sponsorship to seventeen children, three of whom, Sarah, her younger brother, Mwongela and Mutuku, are now residing in the Exodus Children’s Home under the care of Elijah. All three are doing exceedingly well with Mutuku finishing 6th out of 42 students in the latest mid-term exams and Sarah and Mwongela finishing 1st respectively in grade 8 and 4. I was at Exodus for a formal ceremony to provide Exodus with a cheque to pay their rent for the coming year. There were more than one hundred people who attended the ceremony which included song, drama, poetry and speeches. The $2000.00 came from LaSalle P.S. which is located just outside of Windsor Ontario.
The remaining money from LaSalle – $217.00 was used to help purchase a laptop computer for use by Elijah and the children of Exodus.
It’s hoped that in the coming school year that the children of Exodus and the children of LaSalle can become pen pals.
Our good friend – Bilaal Rajan – UNICEF “spokes child” for Canada had launched a ‘bare foot’ challenge in the spring to draw awareness to the plight of children throughout the world who did not have shoes. He donated $100.00 to purchase shoes. This bought 27 pairs of shoes.
Arjun and Kabir are my neighbours. They are six-year-old twins who gave $130.00, ice cream money they had saved and money they had collected. They’d heard about kids having to carry water and decided they wanted ‘water containers’ to be purchased for children to make this job easier.
These containers – ten and twenty litre sizes – are being distributed to orphans in the community while the three large ones are for use at our new children’s home.
On the spirit of continued giving by individuals I want to talk a bit about Kayla. Kayla decided that since the students in her school love brownies that she would hold a bake sale at a school Fun Fair on June 3. This initiative was supported by her Principal, Mrs. Wygood and Kayla, along with her friends Jocelyn and Madison, were able to raise $238.00!
But raising funds wasn’t the end of Kayla’s gifts to the children of Kikima. She had read about solar cookers – small portable cooking units that rely solely on the rays of the sun to cook food and purify water. They save money, the environment (no wood is needed) and health (the fumes from indoor fires are dangerous). She asked if the money they raised could be used in that way. Fifteen solar cookers were purchased and being given out.
Further, this idea seems so wonderful that in the fall we will be bringing in teachers from Solar Cookers International to hold educational seminars and we will be looking at this as the first step in funding large scale distribution of solar cookers through a micro-loan program. Thanks Kayla – you didn’t just raise funds but you raised awareness. Big things start when one person decides to make a difference.
Sandra Valeriote decided she wanted something special for her husband’s birthday. She donated $160.00 to purchase four goats – now named Frank, Christopher, Valerie and Sandra – who were given to a family. This generous gift is making an ongoing contribution that is changing the life of this family. I visited the family and found the four goats grazing on the side of a mountain. I climbed up the side of the rock face to take pictures.
Children at Rolling Hills P.S. (and you’ll hear much more about them farther down in this update) under the direction of Sally Gribbons decided to give purpose to their end of the year presents to teachers. They gathered $240.00 and asked that they be used for something meaningful. Fifteen families received farming tools (a shovel, machete, pick, and hoe) with this money.
I was so fortunate to be there and see the gratitude of the families. You have done more than given food, you have given people the opportunity to grow their own food and feed themselves.
Lisa completed her three month placement in Kikima, teaching at a local high school and helping at the project on weekends. She identified a very bright young girl in her school who was in danger of being asked to leave school because she didn’t have the funds to pay her tuition. This young lady, Faith, was presented with a scholarship – named in honour of Rolling Hills P.S. and the teacher, Abbie Wright, who organized their school efforts to support The Creation of Hope.
In the subsequent exams which took place in July, Faith took 1st place honours for her entire grade.
Ongoing outreach remains a focal point of the program. The students of Bloordale Middle School gave me $149.85 after a presentation. This money was used to buy 5 ten litre water containers, 3 mattresses, 2 blankets and 8 bags of cement used by a local community centre to finish their floor.
The students of Mrs. Esposito’s grade 10 History Class and Ms. Dixon’s grade 10 Religion class at St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary School raised $350.00. This was used to purchase two solar cookers ($32.00), 20 blankets ($100.00), 10 mattresses ($180.00) and a goat ($40.00) that were distributed to needy orphans and families in the Kikima area.
That’s a ‘bale’ of blankets in the truck
Some of the recipients of the blankets
Students at Laurelwood P.S. in Waterloo held a school dance and donated the money they raised. This money was used to purchase and distribute 32 blankets.
Veronika Vistica’s students at St. John The Baptist in Bolton raised $68.00. This purchased a goat and 5 blankets that were distributed in the community.
Food distribution remains an ongoing part of the program. Every two weeks the sponsored children and most often a member of their extended family arrive to receive food. In June I was present for one of these distributions and I am always amazed not only with the quantity and quality of food provided but by the great distance some of these children travel to receive the food. In some cases they are walking more than 3 hours to arrive – and then 3 more hours on the return trip carrying the food.
There is always a deficit between the money provided by sponsors and the money spent for food distribution. This amount varies according to the number of children – which increases as the months go by – the local prices and specific items purchased. In June the shortfall was $167.00, in July $173.00 and in August $180.00. Once again we are gratefully using the money raised by Erindale Secondary School to provide for this extra funding for food distribution.
Hope Home – Rolling Hills Residence
Starting in June we began to build the first building for the Children’s Home. I was there for the foundation being dug, the delivery of stones and bricks, the manufacturing of bricks (to be used in the next stage), the pouring of the concrete slab and the beginning stages of the construction.
The main building includes a common area. Leading from there is a small bedroom for the ‘house mother’ and two larger rooms – one which will be a bedroom for 8 boys and the second bedroom for 8 girls. The first thirteen children have been identified. Through the end of August and the start of September they will be integrated into the residence.
In addition to the main building there is a separate kitchen, storage area and separate boys’ and girls’ washroom/washing rooms.
As is our practice whenever possible, local materials, purchases and labour were used. This involved stone, bricks, and timber all locally ‘harvested’, windows, doors and other metal work all locally manufactured, chairs and storage boxes all made by students at the local poly-tech (with payment going toward their tuition) and mattresses, blankets and all household items purchased from the local market. Local labour, up to fifteen people at a time, was all from the community and they were paid a fair living wage to perform their tasks. The only exception to such local rules involved items that were not available locally which included the solar cookers and the solar electricity units.
The total cost of this building, fully furnished and equipped, was $15,934.48. In the sections below you will be able to note the contributions made by each school – how much they raised and exactly how we spent that money. While we gratefully acknowledge the contributions made by each school I wish to note the contribution made by one school – Rolling Hills Public School. They raised $9,294.46 in their Hoops for Hope tournament. While some of these funds went elsewhere (settling in our placement student Lisa and a scholarship for Faith) they made a $8,824.86 contribution to the construction of this building! This money provided the purchase of stones, sand, cement, windows, doors, wood, and all labour costs associated with the main and outlying buildings being constructed.
It was decided that the residence, sitting atop a mountain side, with rolling hills in the distance should fittingly be called The Rolling Hills Residence.
This is the first of two residences that will ultimately be built. The second, to be built directly beside the first, will be slightly larger and house a formal dining area and office as well as residence rooms. At that time the first building will become home exclusively to the boys and the girls will be moved to the second building.
In the process of building the structures there was excavation that took place. This soil was made into bricks that will be used for the next stage of building. This process is highly labour intensive and involves digging, kneading, forming, drying and then finally baking the bricks in an outdoor kiln.
Bricks being made
Bricks in a Kiln ready to be baked
7020 bricks were made at a total cost of $504.00. This is significantly less than having to purchase bricks locally. This was funded by our friends at Welborne Public School. They had donated $740.00 of which $151.95 had already been used for calculators, soccer balls and crank lanterns. The remaining $84.00 of their money was used to provide 4 mattresses and 4 blankets in the children’s home.
Although we’ve just finished the first residence we have most of the bricks we’ll need for the second residence to be built – hopefully by next summer – and Welborne is the heart of that next building.
Ray Lewis P.S. raised $1166.00 in an amazing (and amazingly heavy) coin drive. We had previously used $223.00 for goats and to relocate Mutuku to Exodus Children’s Home. We have now used the remaining money. We purchased a chair and storage box for each child – 16 of each – to be placed in the residence. These items were all made by the students in the carpentry program at the local poly-tech. This not only allowed for quality products to be made locally and inexpensively but also helped pay the tuition for these students while giving them practical experience. The total cost was $513.00. Whenever a resident of the home or a visitor takes a seat, whenever a youngster stores his or her clothes and possessions in a personal and private space, it’s because of Ray Lewis Students. The remaining money donated by Ray Lewis was used for paints – $383.00 – and to help pay for plastering of the external walls.
Students at École Pitt Meadows Elementary in British Columbia were inspired after Mr. Walters came to their school and spoke to them about “The Creation of Hope”. They came to realize how fortunate they were to live in this beautiful country. Mr. Walter’s passion to make a difference in the world resulted in Pitt Meadows Elementary signing up to sponsor this worthwhile cause. They wanted to make a difference for children around the world. They decided to host a scholastic book fair where all proceeds would be donated to “The Creation of Hope”. Students took on 100 % responsibility for organizing and hosting the book fair. They organized a book talk prior to the fair, set up the displays and volunteered their time before and after school to sell the goods. They were also in charge of publicizing the fair while wearing the Geronimo Stilton costume in temperatures of 30 degrees. As a result of their efforts Pitt Meadows Elementary School raised one thousand dollars for this worthwhile cause.
All of the $1000.00 raised by Ecole Pitt Meadows Elementary school was used to help pay for the solar power electrical system – total cost $2055.00
“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” Mother Teresa
Students and staff at Alexander Graham Bell Public School care about their world and want to make a positive difference. On April 6, 2009 Eric Walters visited our school, inspired us to read, and invited us to join him in serving others. Eric spoke in four different sessions to our students from Grades 3- 8. With the two older groups of students as well as speaking about his books and the writing process Eric spoke about his charity, The Creation Of Hope. His words and pictures had a profound effect on his audience of both students and adults. It was easy to see that when Eric saw people in need he could not turn away but needed to take personal action. The immediate reaction was that we wanted to help.
Students rose to the challenge. One Grade 5/6 class sold bracelets. A Grade 7 class decided that they would hold a garage sale at the school Fun Fair. They collected, priced and sold donated items. It was a huge success and they raised $215. Our STAR Club (Students Together Against Racism) held a multi-cultural bake sale and raised $288. As a staff we baked, iced and decorated cupcakes. We asked students to make a donation of at least a dollar to the Creation of Hope charity and as a thank you they received a cupcake. They were incredibly generous and we raised over $500.
Alexander Graham Bell Public School was very proud to send a cheque to Eric Walters for his Creation of Hope charity for $1129.48! Students are excited to hear from Eric in the fall to see how he has been able to help others with “their money”! His actions have helped us all to realize that we have the power to reach out and create hope for others. We may not be able to solve all of the problems of poverty but by reaching out from person to person we can improve the world a tiny bit.
Our special thanks to Barb Kettle for leadership at Alexander Graham Bell.
$1055.00 of the money raised by Alexander Graham Bell Public School was used to pay for the remaining costs of the solar power electrical system. The additional funds that they raised $74.48, was used to pay for part of the installation of the system, $500.00. The remaining cost of installation was paid for by Beachburg P.S. Anybody who saw on our earlier updates the hilarious pictures of teachers with their hair and eyebrows dyed for a fundraiser knows that this is a great school to create a little electricity!
These three schools, Ecole Pitt Meadows, Alexander Graham Bell, and Beachburg, have allowed this facility to take a giant leap forward, not only providing an ecologically friendly way to power their electricity but allowing the children’s home to move to self-sufficiency. They will never need to pay for electricity.
William Dunbar Public School in Pickering, under the leadership of Susan Wright, made a contribution of $742.64. This money was raised by a combination of money donated in honour of retiring principal, John Howard, ‘spare change’ gathered by a grade seven class and money from student council. $684.95 of these funds was used to purchase and transport 4,533 bricks which were used to construct the residence!
When our children go to sleep at night the walls that keep them safe and warm and dry were provided by William Dunbar! The remaining funds from William Dunbar were used to help with external plastering costs of the buildings.
The students of Adjala Central Public School under the leadership of Brittney Snell (President), Stephanie Brajkovich (Vice-President), Jennifer Blenkarn (Treasure) and Payton Swaffield (Secretary) held two student dances, a jelly bean guessing contest and sold candy grams. They raised $800.00!
This money was used to purchase all of the timber for the roof and ceiling and the roofing sheets, $750.00, and to buy sheets for five of the beds.
The students of Sir Samuel Steel in Whitby donated $313.50. This money purchases ALL of the plates, glasses, hot pots, pots and pans and essentials needed to equip the entire kitchen!
The students of Meadow School in Brandon Manitoba, under the direction of Synthia Wright raised $275.00. Eleven orphans will go to sleep each night in sheets, blankets and pillows paid for by the money they donated.
St. Anthony School in Brampton, under the leadership of Adrienne Dalli, raised and donated $513.18. This allowed the purchase and construction of a cooking stove complete with chimney. While solar cooking will be utilized in the residence there are some items, and on some days, when the stove is essential. Hot meals, particularly on cloudy days, at the Hope Home are a product of the generosity of this school.
Once again we’ve used the money raised by Erindale Secondary School – the last $171.35 of the $2065.35 that they raised – to help pay for the cost of the 8 bunk beds for the home, a total cost of $589.00. Five of the sixteen orphans have a bed to lie in because of Erindale.
Prince Phillip School in Hamilton organized a penny drive. The driving force behind their school’s efforts is Anna Powers, a grade 4 student. They raised $576.63! These funds were used to purchase five and a half of the bunk beds at a cost of $418.00. Eleven orphans have beds because of this amazing young lady and her efforts at her school. The remaining $158.63 will be used in September to purchase 4 milking goats for the Hope Home. These children will rise from their beds and have fresh milk in the morning as part of their breakfast thanks to Anna.
To Come In September
In the ongoing spirit of outreach we have identified three places where a small scale water project would benefit hundreds of families. Water surveys have been completed and we’re working on partnering with the people in these communities – they provide labour and local materials and we provide cement and pay for a mason – to build small dykes and walls to capture and contain water that can be used for irrigation, livestock and drinking. The work is already underway!
Where there is water there is life and hope.
Deforestation is a major factor in soil erosion and climate change. As well the loss of fruit trees provides a loss in food. We are launching an initiative to create tree nurseries and sell, at a minimal cost, to local people who will make a commitment to nurture and grow them to maturity.