A COMMUNITY UNITED: Group wants to wipe out Kenyan poverty
The following article appeared in the Idaho Press Tribune on August 26, 2013.
Caring Hearts and Hands of Hope is a Boise-based organization that wants to eradicate poverty in Kenya by helping orphans, children of widows and those from abject poverty with high school tuition costs.
Today in Kenya, 56 percent of the people earn less than a dollar a day. Natural disasters, especially famines, are common in traditional farming areas where survival depends on rainfall and good weather. People in these areas become dependent on relief food, mostly from non-governmental organizations.
Idaho Press-Tribune: What is your organization’s goal and how do you accomplish it?
Caring Hearts and Hands of Hope: The problems of poverty and famine in Kenya are compounded by the effects of HIV/AIDS. Over one million children are orphans due to AIDS. This has led to the increased number of children having no one at all to care for them. When both parents die, their future is lost.
Elementary school education is free in Kenya, but children who pass the national eighth grade exams to join high school must pay tuition. Unfortunately, thousands of needy boys and girls cannot amass the necessary funds. Thus boys do easily turn to a life of crime, drugs or alcohol while girls are in danger of turning into prostitution or being forced to early marriage.
Providing handouts is a short-sighted approach. Educating the youth is a long-term solution that will create a nation of educated professional contributors.
IPT: What is the history of your organization?
CHHH: Established in 2010, Caring Hearts and Hands of Hope (CHHH) has sponsored more than 230 needy orphans and children of widows. There were orphans who would repeat eighth grade three or more times because they lacked the $500 a year high school tuition. In February 2010 a mother of six committed suicide because she could not afford the high school tuition her daughter needed.
The need for a long term solution, as provided by CHHH, was long overdue.
Caring Hearts and Hands of Hope is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization, EIN 27-3127770, so donations are tax deductible. Currently, 160 students – 143 in high school and 17 in universities and colleges – are sponsored. The students must have passed eighth grade exams and have been admitted to a high school.
The CHHH governing board is in Idaho while in Kenya an all-volunteer committee that oversees the welfare of the organization is composed of teachers and pastors. They are aware of the conditions of the students in their communities who pass exams but can’t enroll in high school unless financially assisted. Caring Hearts and Hands of Hope sponsors students regardless of their tribe, religion or gender, although it emphasizes the need to educate more girls. When you educate a girl, you educate an entire community.
CHHH has also constructed five houses for widows and provided school and personal hygiene supplies for some of the most vulnerable girls.
Here is what Misyani Girls High School Principal Angelina Munyasya says: “Caring Hearts and Hands of Hope has given hope where there was none. It has given a new lease on life to very needy students and especially in Misyani girls. Their future which was blank is now assured.”
IPT: How do you raise money? How do you use that money?
CHHH: Funds for sponsorship are donated by individuals who learn about the organization through articles and presentations to corporations, schools or churches. There are also people who learn about it online at www.caringheartsandhandsofhope.com. It costs about $500 per year to educate a needy child in high school. That covers room and board, books, shoes and uniform and other education-related expenses.
What’s unique about Caring Hearts and Hands of Hope is that 100 percent of the donations are used for the purpose they are donated. The funds are not given to government officials, students, guardians or school principals. Funds are deposited directly into the school’s bank account for the sponsored student and the school is given the deposit slip.
Sponsors are provided with a photo, background information and school contacts for their student(s) and are updated on their student’s academic performance at the end of each school term.