The last few days have been a whirlwind of activities - giving out school sports uniforms, giving out Vibram five finer shoes, going up to the north of Kenya and spending an amazing few days doing feeding projects first with children, then helping grandma's with the famous Kenyan supermodel who has worked on the make-up project with us - Ajuma! then today back into the swing of the hospital - we have a new office to use, finance plans being made - it is truly incredible all that is going on and still to happen.
Kamariny and Chebonet Primary schools were the first to get the vibrams, we had some running competitions up and down the fields and then also they received soccer uniforms thanks to Becky Lyne. The next day we visited three of our sponsored scholarship students - Jael, Elvis and Nancy who "won" 4-year terms at secondary after graduating from the Shoe4Africa Janeth Jepkosgei school. Great news the school continues to climb up the ladder in terms of achievement. Out of 18 it is now number 6!
Driving back to Iten was unpacking then re-packing before going up to Lodwar for the projects. Not sure which pic to post! So here's Ajuma in the hall trying to navigate her way through the kids as they were getting ready to perform songs, poems and dances before the food and the gifts came out. Once again, thank you to all who help us!!
Will add a picture when I able back in a good Internet access!
A few years ago the American Government got rid of surface mail - the ability to send mail by ship (much cheaper than today's airmail). This affected mainly charities who mail a lot to the third world and donations for postage are hard to come by - so it is with big thanks to all who are sending things over - I really appreciate it.
I am back in Kenya and have just been sorting through the boxes of shoes. Some boxes have no names, other have labels I can not read but I want to thank the following people: Tomoaki Uchiki of Japan, Urban Bettag of the UK, Koja Sports of Belgium, Duncan (first/last name?) of East 89th ST,NYC, Emily Taylor of Chasewood, Canada, Joyce Ray of zipcode 17202 (can't read the address), Kathleen McCormack of West 62nd St, NYC, Setterlund of S. Yarmouth, MASS, Taisuke Nakashima of Tokyo, Alexander Burch from North Dakota (sending school supplies), Will Hebbes sending soccer boots, UK, Kelly McClure of Denver, Colorado, Wasson of I am guessing Hauula, Hawaii, (very colorful newtons)... Also Gurpreet Mand for a big, big parcel. Also we have vibrams from China so I will be doing a hand out at a school event coming very soon.
Two more labels found - thanks Joy Dushey of NYC, and Lena Mueller of Cambridge Ontario!
I have decided I am going to try and update this blog once a week. Call it a late New Year's Resolution. Or a not so late Chinese New Years....
Having nothing better to post today I am copying a letter I sent to someone who took the time to write in to tell me they had chosen to donate to another charity, instead of S4A, because of our "in-effective" policy of not paying salaries. So I am writing this so if I get another case I can forward this blog post and save myself time, but it does help explain a bit better: (I omitted the names of the donor an their charity)
Thanks and I fully understand your choice; ___ are a great charity. Personally I am happy you are donating money to Africa. However your comments that Shoe4Africa is less effective as it does not have a staff, and “Other charities manage to have a staff without taking from donations” statement is a little misaligned.
I looked at your example: the charity you are talking about states-
“Your donation goes 100%, we have angel donors who pay our salaries.”
The basic rule for charities is 80% of donations come from 20% of the donors. When a charity gets a large donor the idea seen by some charities is to persuade that large donor(s) to be the angel funder(s) of staff expenses. Further reading on the website of this charity you will see this is exactly the case here.
At Shoe4Africa all our donations go to getting the job done; not a penny has ever been given to a salary.
Breaking down into two sets
A charity that collects funds using an American staff, then uses “partner’s on the ground” to implement jobs over in Africa.
Charity that one set of staff that does the work.
The problem with #1 is this type of charity is deceptively not as efficient as you may think. When looking at its “Pie Chart” of monies spent on projects, staff, “Africa” as many charities do on their web sites you must remember that this charity is just sending the “funds” now to a completely new charity/work team (partners on the ground) who will now dilute your charity donation yet again through its staff, office space, expenses etc.
Eg. Case in point your charity of choice has 48-staff members, then they engage another charity (“partners on the ground” – their words not mine), that has another staff
Africans for the most part live on less than a dollar a day. The average national salary for America is $984 per week. Although, as yet, we do not pay any salaries If we did we would keep salaries relative to the fact that to keep in balance with those we serve we would not do as say some charities who pay salaries so outlandish that their workers are 1000x richer than the people they serve. I have nothing against salaries at all!
What does Africa need more than “Aid”? It is education, it is training, it is jobs, and trade. Thus one could conclude if your charity was using and paying an entirely African team of “Partners on the Ground” this would be very commendable. Whether they are or not is up to you, the donor, to check on, and you to decide if relevant.
I hope this explains to you a bit better why we are slower (yup, I am the one answering emails too), but please don’t say less effective.
Starting a new school from scratch has a lot of logistical issues. Teachers, books, desks etc. Not least deciding the School colors. We have not yet officially opened the school with a ceremony as the neighborhood wishes, but we have opened the doors to the classrooms and started classes last month. Here is a shot from that opening day. Big impact; this village now has a Public Primary School!
Happy Birthday, lucky number 7, to Ian Ricker! Here's Ian's birthday party; the kids are making Lego men. Thank you so much Ian for dedicating your 7th birthday to helping build a children's hospital for the less fortunate kids of East Africa. A nice touch is later this year Ian's parents will be in Eldoret. He's our hero of the week - thanks Ian.
birthday party. The kids are holding up little Lego guys they made
We live in amazing times; truly. Look at what I am doing; couldn't do it without the web, and I could not do it without the amazing people I never get to meet but get involved, get connected, stand up and do the right things from the heart. Thank you Mr. Mead. He is going out of his way to collect shoes, tracksuits, bundle them up, box them up, hump them to the post office and send them off to Kenya.
It is random acts of kindness like this that inspire me and keep me believing in a world when I often have my doubts. Gurpreet, I am guessing, has never been to Iten where these goods will be handed out, he'll never the see the ladies smiles as they receive these 'prizes' and motivations... yet he cares.
I know we tend to get over involved often in our own world of charities, what moves us, and being on the inside I might be a tad too critical often - I see so much abuse in the names of not-for-profits, I see so many little charities not getting the help they should and I see people like Mr. Gurpreet standing up and inspiring the goodness to continue! Thanks! [His shoes are below]
Short, to the point... is tough for a charity that is as diverse as we are; but our vision is clear. If the world shares its wealth then we'll heal the world!
Every child will not suffer from a lack of public healthcare
In a world where we spend trillions of dollars on Space exploration and Wars it seems contrite that billions are starving from the want of basic foods and hundreds of millions are lacking simple healthcare. The relationship of life that is togetherness is often skipped over as we hurry toward a better, brighter future. Or is it?
As proven in the 9/11 phone transcripts the very last messages, the most important messages always related to love & relationship. All the technologies work towards relationships and one can not live without being connected to another. In our rush we have, in some ways, forgotten the very element of life's founding principles. How can we leave people behind who are sick, hungry, or afraid?
I read a blogpost, "What is your big dream and what are you doing about it?" Imagine if everyone set themselves a goal to help the less fortunate. Already so many are, but what if EVERY body set about the task... think of the united positivity. So when someone asks, "What do you do?" The world does not answer with a career, it speaks about the relationship.
My personal dream, my big dream, is to do all I possibly can to improve Health & Education for kids in Kenya. If I finish this project I have now started, and build East Africa's first public children's hospital, i will dream well.
So six weeks in Kenya just raced by, in a flash. I am sitting in a coffee shop in Nairobi following a great meeting with CROWN PAINTS and we are working together to hopefully form a partnership where they will come in to support the painting of the hospital, and will paint the hospital with their amazing paint designed specifically for hospitals/medical centers. All good stuff. Phase two, which I have now moved onto, is going to be a time of forging new relationships and I have a good list of companies who are 'the right people' to approach. So I am really happy that this first meeting with Crown Paints has gone so well. Onward as President Obama says (and today is his second inauguration day).
And thank you to the New York Road Runners for giving us some publicity (Always very grateful) by the picture on their Homepage - Give meaning to your miles. This was certainly a decision for me about ten years ago when I decided that running 'just for me' was okay but if I could use the power of running to do something good that would be even better. I know the percentage of people who will run for a charitable cause will increase year by year where I hope in the future everyone running a race like the New York Marathon will be raising at least the same amount of their entry fee (if not more) for a cause.
Very nice of Kathrine; she sent me HER birthday gift to help with the hospital,
"It's my birthday, so I'd rather this be my 'treat' than some frivolous thing that does nothing for anybody. Thanks for all you do! Cheers and Happy New Year again, xoxo Kathrine"