WHY I’M PLANNING A FOURTH TRIP TO A KENYAN CHILDREN’S HOME
At the dawn of a new year, many Canadians look for ways to reach out to people in need.
We are an affluent and generous country with a long tradition of helping others.
For many of us though, the problem can be finding a charity where every dollar directly changes lives.
This year, I invite you to consider Zawadi la Tumaini (Gift of Hope) Children’s Home in Nairobi, Kenya.
Some readers may recall that Zawadi la Tumaini was founded in 2013 by a then teenaged Jacqueline Villeneuve of Sudbury.
Jacqueline and her Kenyan staff now provide a home for 27 children, aged 8 months to 17 years.
The home is funded by charitable donations.
In June, 2014, I wrote in the Northern Life about losing my heart after volunteering at Zawadi.
Since then, I have followed my heart back to Zawadi twice more, and plan to return there again in May.
Each time I return, I am struck by how this diverse group of kids have bonded into a family.
The older children help the younger ones, new children are accepted and loved, joys and sorrows are shared, and every need, be it food, healthcare, education or love, is met.
Little Faith joined the Zawadi family last year.
Rescued from an abusive relative, she was tiny, malnourished and covered in open sores.
At the hospital, examining doctors also found a significant congenital heart defect called Tetrology of Fallot.
With Tetrology of Fallot, there are four significant problems with the heart, each of which requires surgery to repair.
The problem is, there is no universal paid health care in Kenya, and the surgery is expensive.
I met Faith this past April.
She is a funny and happy little girl who likes playing with her new siblings and reading picture books.
A healthy glow has replaced the sickly pallor, but she is still tiny, tires easily and feels physical pain when her heart is stressed by too much activity.
Four brothers – Charles, Brian, Anthony and Clinton — are also members of the Zawadi family.
They were rescued after their mother abandoned them.
Charles, age nine at the time, sought help from the police, who then placed them with Kenyan child services.
When Jacqueline first met the boys, there were only three.
Charles, because of his age, had been separated from his younger brothers and placed in a facility for juvenile delinquents.
When Jacqueline heard their story, she searched for Charles and reunited them.
Most of Kenya’s approximately two million orphaned and abandoned children face constant danger and uncertainty.
An estimated 300,000 street children roam the country.
Many sniff glue to quell hunger and fall prey to pimps and other abusers.
In October 2016, police in the city of Eldoret, in a carefully planned operation, used beatings and tear gas to drive street children from the garbage dump where many of them lived, forcing them into the rain-swollen Sosiani River.
Six children, aged nine to 16, drowned, others were injured.
Activists in Eldoret fear this is just the beginning of a campaign to kill street children there.
When you rescue a child in Kenya, this is what you rescue them from – addiction, living on heaps of garbage, grinding hunger, daily abuse and even murder.
Each of Zawadi la Tumaini’s 27 children has a story, each has been rescued.
Now, where there was despair and fear, there is hope.
Where there was abandonment, now there is family.
And thanks to Jacqueline’s tireless advocacy and fundraising, Faith recently received her lifesaving heart surgery and is currently recovering at a charitable hospital in Israel.
And Charles and his brothers are thriving together at ZLT.
For any readers who are interested in helping Zawadi, a local charity with far-reaching impact, here are a few ideas:
1.For those who wish to donate: 100 per cent of your donation benefits the children.
Go to ZLTHope.
org and click donate.
On the Why Donate page, click on HERE.
This will take you to the Children of Hope website (a non-profit that exists only to issue receipts for other organizations like Zawadi.
They do not receive any of the money).
Click on “projects” and find Zawadi la Tumaini, then make your donation.
A receipt will be emailed to you.
You can also choose to be a monthly donor.
2.Buy Hazima coffee at www.savoredculture.
com and a percentage of each sale supports Zawadi.
3.Purchase tickets to attend Zawadi’s annual fundraiser “A Night in Africa” on April 1.
Enjoy an evening of African food and fun.
Tickets are $100.
Call 705-690-0506 or 705-969-1171 for tickets or more details.
Thank you for your interest in Zawadi la Tumaini.
Have a safe, peaceful and generous New Year.
Sudburian Suzanne Harvey has visited Zawadi la Tumaini, a Kenyan orphan’s home operated by another Sudburian, Jacqueline Villeneuve, three times to volunteer.
She is currently planning her fourth trip.
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