management skills save the world, one orphanage at a time

One of my former students, and a recent alumna of Case Western Reserve, has been blogging about her experiences as a volunteer in Kenya. I have found her entries touching and inspiring.

"Each time someone stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope." -- Robert F. Kennedy


Meran writes:

"The orphanage I have been working at is Sheperds Orphanage & Educational Centre, located in a slum outside of Nairobi, Kenya called Kayole. This orphanage is home to 56 children affected by either poverty, abuse, abandonment, and/or AIDs; ranging from ages 3-15 years old. The orphanage is made out of wooden frames and scrap bits of old tin sheets with holes in them used for walls and roofs. There are only 8 single sized beds for all of the children to share (4 beds in the girl room, 4 beds in the boy room). There is no electricity, no running water, no toilets, and no washroom. The classrooms bare except for an old blackboard made out of wooden signs painted black and wooden benches with nails sticking out from where missing parts have been broken off."

" These children own nothing, not even the clothes and shoes they wear since they have to share between each other. Even if these children owned something, there is no place for them to store anything; no closets, drawers, lockers, etc. Their meals consist of rice, porridge, bread, and beans (most of the time just rice); but it is not rare for days where they go without eating lunch or dinner because food has run out."

"My fellow volunteers and I (Lamya Karkour and Sophie Bright are also volunteers with Global Volunteer Network) have done the best we could with improving the horrific living conditions of these beautiful children. Altogether we have donated toothbrushes, toothpaste, shoes, pencils, paper, crayons, and notebooks for each individual child. We have also provided containers for each class (classes go from 1-8) to hold their new school supplies in."

"Today we held a meeting with the entire staff (teachers, cooks, management, social workers, etc..) to discuss the needs of the children and orphanage to see how money can be effectively allocated. We are all sending out emails to everyone we know in hopes to receive help. This help can come in many forms; prayer, ideas, help in spreading awareness about these children(church, school, work, family, friends), clothes, toys, child sponsorship, etc. Lamya will be opening up a bank account in Kenya which money donations can be deposited into thruough bank transfers and Western Union to enable us to receive money from anywhere in the world. This email is being sent out now because we are all aware of the time it takes to organize fund raising and spreading the news."

I have already put Meran in touch with some nairobi-area hospitals and social service organizations to help her find ways to provide sustainable help to this orphanage, but I would also like to be able to send her a significant donation. Anyone who would like to join me can write a check to me, and I will deposit all the donations together and send one big wire transfer to Lamya's bank account in a few weeks. This donation will not be tax-deductible, because Meran and Lamya and Sophie are not channelling their funds through any formal nonprofit organization -- but all the money will go to benefit the orphaned children.

The easiest way to get money to the orphanage right now is to send me a paypal donation (my paypal ID is my last name at mac dot com) and I will collate all the donations and make a wire transfer each time it is appropriate to do so.

If you would like to receive more information about how these young women plan to use their funds by email, please let me know. I'm happy to share more information.

To see pictures of Meran's travels in East Africa, you can view her Photo Albums on Facebook:
http://case.facebook.com/photos.php?id=15502983&l=e6f5b

To read more about the experiences of the volunteers, you can read the blog of Lamya, one of Meran's fellow volunteers, who is doing a 6-month stint in the orphanage:

http://miainkenya.blogspot.com/

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