“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
We did not originally plan to use our trip as a platform to collect money for charity, but our eyes have been opened after 5000 km on the road, and we are appealing to readers to help us make a difference for a community in need in Kenya. We also have a story to tell. So, this time around we are going to ask you for something. Please read on.
When our 3 daughters were young, they had the good fortune of attending “Miss Darlene’s” nursery school in Ste Anne de Bellevue. Darlene Anderson was like a second mother to the children she cared for. Parents knew they were fortunate that they could rely on this generous, kind-hearted person. Darlene made a big difference in our busy existence “back in the day”, but she would no doubt say that her real mission in life was still to come.
Our youngest daughter, Devon, attended Miss Darlene’s with the son of Dr. Ebi Kalahi Kimanani. Ebi grew up in Itegero, Kenya. She worked with her local church and community on the West Island of Montreal and lent support to her village back in Africa. She was a statistician and biomedical research consultant, and was involved in establishing ethical clinical trials for vaccines to combat malaria and AIDS in Kenya and Uganda. Tragically, after returning from a 2005 work related trip to Africa, Ebi herself succumbed to malaria.
You read that correctly. There are not enough exclamation points in existence to put after that last paragraph.
We knew Ebi only casually through Miss Darlene and our girl’s music recitals, but anyone affiliated with her at all soon became aware of this great loss for communities on both sides of the Atlantic.
SUITCASES FOR AFRICA
As happens so often, out of tragedy comes good. A diverse group of Ebi’s friends founded Suitcases for Africa in her memory. It is a grass-roots charitable organization with the goal of improving the living conditions in impoverished rural Kenya.
Please explore the website at for the whole picture at http://suitcasesforafrica.com. It tells the story of a group of committed local volunteers who, in the early stages of the charity they founded, travelled to Ebi’s home village with 50 suitcases of clothing, books, supplies and medical packs. The tremendous welcome and obvious need for assistance lead to projects in nearby communities, including providing clean accessible water, orphan feeding programs, and educational support including scholarships, school uniforms etc. An emphasis was placed on self sustaining and income generating projects such as the raising of poultry and cows, growing of food crops and women’s sewing projects.
Suitcases For Africa became a Registered Canadian Charity in July 2010, with Darlene Anderson serving as its president. The hands on approach of the organization, its focus on core needs, task completion and nod towards sustainability stand in contrast to the high administrative costs and dependency creating policies some charities are accused of.
We made our customary gift to Suitcases For Africa this past Christmas in the name of a family member, as he does for us, in lieu of presents. The next day a hand delivered card and a tax receipt arrived in our mailbox. When the cost of a stamp matters to an organization, it is a sign that the larger ticket items are being well-managed.
LENORE & GERRY’S PLEDGE
We have committed funds to SFA to build a well for the Shamoni community in Kakamega, a village near Ebi’s original home close to Lake Victoria in Western Kenya. Details of the project may be seen here: http://suitcasesforafrica.com/event/shamoni-community-water-project We are asking for your help.
Water is at the center of so much that goes on in every village and household on this continent. We have seen it pumped from the ground and pulled out of reservoirs into every metal drum and plastic container imaginable before being carted off on donkey carts and the backs and heads of (almost always) women. Our TDA crew is on a never-ending mission to source water. We have been without it on many nights for washing, but we can only imagine what it would mean not to have potable water for drinking.
The available water sources for the Shamoni Community in Kakamega are unreliable and to far away. There is a high incidence of diarrheal disease and a risk of rape for women who go off in pursuit of water in the evening or early morning hours. We ask your help to end these preventable risks that target a population of approximately 1050.
Please go to this Canada Helps link to make your donation and help us realize this project. Make sure to select the Shamoni Well Project. A contribution of $25 and over will get you a tax receipt. Should SFA be fortunate enough to receive a single contribution of $8000 we will commit to financing a second well. Of course, any donation will be appreciated.
Thanks for reading as usual, and this time thank you for considering a donation to this worthwhile cause.