I visited Kenya for the second time in 2012 with an Austin based non-profit “Well Aware” (wellawareworld.org) , who's mission it is to provide clean drinking water for rural Kenyans. It was a totally different experience than my first visit, when I went on a classic game viewing Safari with friends. Although we arranged a visit for some of our group to go to an orphanage and donate school and sporting supplies, we had little people to people interaction.
The 2012 trip changed my world perspective. We stayed in an orphanage/school and visited other villages that were beginning to blossom after their basic need for WATER was met. I had traveled the world and seen horrible living conditions, but my heart wasn't moved. Until I had this experience of actually spending time in those conditions and witnessing the enormous positive changes that transpired from individual donations put to work in through a non-corrupt system of aid.
This made sense: All creatures have basic survival needs that must be met before they can flourish in their particular way. Remember Maslow?!
Soon after, as a result of that inspiring trip, two women created “Moja Tu” (mojatu.org) , a non-profit that promotes education in Kenya through personal sponsorship. I choose to sponsor primary school education for a young girl – based on a picture of her. I had already broken through the barrier of donating to a cause, far far away. I knew these women and trusted that donations would be used as promised.
This made sense: Teach a Man To Fish, and You Feed Him for a Lifetime.
I met Domitilah on an ensuing trip to Kenya with that group. We had exchanged letters – hers were full of thank you's and blessings. She knew that Moja Tu had created a structure whereby her tuition and board were paid, and that I was personally investing in her. She came, arms open, running to meet me.
I don't have children, wasn't playful as a child myself, and didn't feel I could really relate. That would be ok I thought – I could provide some mentoring and $75/month for her boarding school.
Fast forward 4 years later. Domitilah's letters now are about her classes, friends, her track & field exploits (she competes and wins the long-jump), her confidence and her sassy laughter. We don't yet know what path her future will hold after secondary school. She graduates next year.
But I know this...
Without Moja Tu, Domitilah would be in her small impoverished village, likely lacking confidence, tending to those basic physiological needs. Because of her beauty, she might have turned to selling her body. Who knows? I do know that she now has a chance...to fish.
Dream Children's Home (dreamchildrenshome-kenya-orphanage.org/) is an orphanage and school that houses many Moja Tu students while not in school. The kids play with exuberance, older ones take care of the tiny ones, complete chores, worship with singing, laughter and prayers. They operate as a big, loving family under the guidance of their directors (Mom & Dad), counselor, teachers, and the elder young people. I got to stay there last August for a week.
Their living conditions are much improved compared to their home villages. Here they have clean water, food, shelter, and love. Same as the boarding schools, like the one Domitilah goes to. Really exemplary. It is amazing and wonderful what these patrons have created.
Let me explain the reality of these conditions, where people are being uplifted.
Nights are spend in a dorm, sleeping on a mattress an inch or two thick. Toilets are long drop; a hole in a cement slab that you squat over. Bathing is done from a bucket of water, possibly heated an outdoor fire. Food is mainly starches with greens and rare protein, cooked over an outdoor fire. Clothes are washed outdoors in buckets and hung on lines or bushes to dry.
I am humbled. I want to visit again.
I'm urging you, wanting to persuade you, to give a miniscule amount of your earnings. To give an opportunity for a better life through education. You might not ever be able to make that trip to Kenya. You might not be able to meet that young person face to face. But trust me, the amount of money you contribute to that soul is miniscule compared to the positive change you will initiate. Your dollars go a long long way there, when funneled through a reputable agency of change.
Check out these youth who are eager for a chance. See into their eyes, beyond the one dimensional photograph. Imagine what the $75/month.. that you normally would spend on ..dinner out..that massage..the newest tennis shoes..the cute outfit for Fido.. could mean for a fellow human.
We're all in this together. Please step up.
I randomly choose 4 people to include here. Please go to mojatu.org to read about all persons available for sponsorship.