Hello Wonderful Friends and Family,
I am overjoyed to share some wonderful news with you; I am returning to Kenya this summer!
Last summer I spent three weeks working with a team from my church in Kenya. The church I attend, Ecclesia Hollywood (www.churchinhollywood.com), supports the indigenous aid groups, Ghetto Light Youth and Homecare Fellowship in the Kibera Slum of Nairobi, Kenya. The main focus of these organizations is to care for orphans, teens and widows affected by poverty and AIDS, by providing everything from meals to schooling to developing sustainable businesses. They are supported by Tirzah International (http://www.tirzahinternational.org/), an amazing organization working to empower women and children across the globe.
My experience last summer was nothing short of life changing. These children are so hungry for love and attention. Despite the fact that most of them only own 1 or 2 outfits, their shoes are falling apart, they may not eat for days at a time and face horrendous abuse, all they want is to hold your hand and to know you will return next year. How could I say no to such a simple request?
I left Kenya hungry to do more. Asking myself, how can I help these children in a meaningful way? I have been reading, researching and emailing group leaders to learn as much as I can about organizations at work in Kibera. In my quest for knowledge and understanding I have come to know the importance of involving the people of Kibera in the solution. As westerners we cannot come in with our ideas for solutions, thinking we know what’s best. The organizations that I am working with this summer are all run by Kenyans, who are from Kibera. We come along simply to support them and facilitate growth.
A few facts about Kibera:
- Kibera is the largest slum in Africa, the second largest in the world.
- 1.5 million people live in an area the size of Central Park.
- One in five children will not live to see their 5th birthday.
- Only 8% of girls will have the opportunity to go to school.
- 66% of girls will have traded sex for food by the time they turn 16.
This summer I will be returning with Ecclesia to work with Homecare Fellowship and Ghetto Light Youth once again. I have also applied for a teaching internship at The Kibera School for Girls. This is the first all girls, tuition free school in Kibera. They are run by Shining Hope for Communities (www.hopetoshine.org), an incredible organization that not only runs the school but also a community center and medical clinic.
If accepted I will be spending two and a half months in Kenya this summer. The first month will be spent teaching at The Kibera School for Girls. Next I will have two weeks to meet with a variety of Kenyan organizations and NGOs working in Kibera. I will also be facilitating the purchase of medical supplies, school supplies and clothes for the children of Homecare during this time (a project I am spear-heading under Tirzah International). Lastly I will be meeting up with the team from Ecclesia to run the camp for Homecare and Ghetto Light Youth, in addition to working in the feeding centers and schools run by Homecare within Kibera.
My hope is to not only raise the money for my own trip to but to also raise funds for the purchase medical supplies, school supplies and clothes for the children of Homecare Fellowship. I can’t tell you how great the need is for these items. Running our first aid tent last year, most of these children had never seen a Band-Aid and most certainly did not know how to take care of their infected wounds. The schools that we visited had no books, paper or writing utensils. The teachers simply lectured from the few resources they had to a group of children ages 3 to 16. And clothes. Most of the children only have one or two outfits and shoes that are falling apart. In a slum with no running water or sewage system, this puts them at extreme risk for many diseases.
I know that I can’t fix everything that these amazing kids face each day, but I can strive to make their lives just a little bit better. We are looking to make a generational change, to help them to get a classroom education along with educating them on health and wellness. And most importantly we want to show them that they are LOVED beyond measure. Please help me to continue this movement.
I will be fundraising in phases since I am piecing together my own program this summer. The first phase is raising money for my flight, the Ecclesia trip and funds for medical, school and clothing supplies. Here is the breakdown and how you can help. Every little bit helps, even $10! And all contributions are 100% TAX DEDUCTIBLE. I will also be hosting a fundraiser in Los Angeles in April or May, so stay tuned!
- Flight Cost: Approximately $2000
- Ecclesia Kenya Team Cost: $1500 (includes lodging, travel, food,camp supplies, etc.)
- Medical, School and Clothing Supplies: my goal is to raise $7000, but the more you give the more we will be able to provide these amazing kids!
How To Donate:
Donate Online: www.churchinhollywood.com/Kenya
**Please make sure to mark under "Team Member Designation": Paige Smith**
Donate By Check:
Checks made payable to Ecclesia Hollywood
**PLEASE include in the memo line “Paige Smith – Kenya”
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for the address.
Other ways you can help:
Forward this email on to anyone who might be interested in the cause.
Tweet about it! Follow me @paigecsmith and post the link below.
Facebook me! Post a link to this letter.
Blog about it! Share your thoughts and this awesome cause!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this letter, I know it’s a long one but it is difficult to sum up just how important these people and their struggles are to me. They have given me far more than I will ever be able to give them but I won’t give up trying!
If you have any questions please feel free to email. And for more information check out my blog: www.paigerinkenya.blogspot.com.