On average, women and girls in developing countries walk 6 kilometers (approximately 3.5 miles) a day, carrying 20 liters (approximately 42 pounds/20 kgs) of water. In some areas, it is common for this journey to take more than 15 hours a week.
When I read this, I realized that I had no idea what it would take to do something like this. 15 hours a week, just to get water, that is often muddy and full of debris. There are MILLIONS of women around the world who do this daily. We talk about Women’s Empowerment. What would those women be able to do with 15 hours a week if they weren’t walking to get water?
The truth is, I’ll never understand the challenge of water. I get up, turn on my sink, brush my teeth, and fill my water bottle with clean water anytime I want. I recently read a Facebook post where my friend Teneil Jayne said, “I can’t believe Malawi and America exist on the same planet.” That’s how I feel about Kenya.
I can’t help everyone, everywhere. I’m just one person. I started working in Kenya on projects in 2015, and that’s when I became truly aware of some of the challenges facing families. That’s when I realized that to really empower women and girls in this world, you have to save them time. When they have more time, because they aren’t walking to get water, or spending hours cooking over a fire in their huts, they can do more to make money for their families to eat and gain an education.
Because I have worked in Kenya, my connections and team are there. We know who we can reach, and we know how to reach them.
I decided that I would walk 100 miles between September 20th and November 4th to raise money for 100 women in Kenya to receive 1000 liter water tanks. That will allow them to capture rainwater during the rainy seasons, and use the water for their families. It doesn’t solve the water challenges for women in the Maasai Mara, but when it rains, it gives them more time.
How You Can Help
I will be sharing about my journey to walk 100 miles for these women, and I would love for you to share this story, too. I want to raise $10,000 to purchase the water tanks. So far in 2021, we have donated 100 tanks to women and families on the Maasai Mara in Kenya. This will DOUBLE that number this year.
Drilling for water is incredibly expensive and challenging in this area. These families can’t wait for that to happen. They need help now. When we donate a tank, we track the names and struggles of each family member. We also build them garden towers, funded by The USANA Foundation.
100% of your donation goes to these tanks, and you can follow along and see the progress!
Sign Up for an Expedition
100 Humanitarians International takes teams on expeditions to Kenya a few times a year, and also creates Family Excursions that include tourist locations, humanitarian opportunities, and of course, safari! Sign up to get information and details on upcoming trips!
$5 Friday Fundraisers on Facebook began back in July 2015 when we decided to start 100 Humanitarians International. We were able to fundraise for 25 desks for Tenkes School, and later we added a new kitchen to cook for 300 kids daily, because their mud kitchen had fallen down in a rainstorm. After that, we would just sporadically run a $5 Friday Fundraiser, until Facebook created the capability for us to do it on their platform. Game-changer! Suddenly we could reach more people, and since we are a non-profit, 100% of the fees were waived, therefore 100% of donations could go towards a project. Brilliant!
Our first Facebook $5 Friday Fundraiser was in July of 2018. We decided we wanted to raise the money to build 100 Garden Towers in Kenya for Families on our expeditions. The goal was $1000. Thanks to generous donations, we were able to fundraise $1300, allowing us to start a vegetable seedling garden to use for the garden towers. We will begin with 20 families on our Fall expedition! We got the idea last June from Jacob, our community director for Nkareta, and were able to build 8 garden towers. four were at a school in Nkareta, and then we planted two garden towers for two families that we have worked with over the past year.
We have also built raised garden beds with families, but have found these to be easier, more portable, and more cost effective. We can pile up the jeeps with bags and take them to multiple locations easily! We are really grateful for the ability to get more done and help more families with this innovation.
Our August $5 Friday Fundraiser was also unbelievably successful, and we were able to finish our commitment to provide 1000 reusable feminine hygiene kits to women and girls in Kenya. They were distributed to three schools in Nairobi, Nkareta, and Bomet, as well as women in the slums who were in the Kenyan news about not having access to sanitary pads.
We were able to raise $3000 in August for the Zariel Days for Girls Enterprise and Christine took kits to the street women featured in this news segment. On each expedition, our team takes kits to schools and rescue centers, providing 3 years of dignity for women and girls who don’t have access to the sanitary pads. Our commitment is 1000 kits per year, and ALL of the kits are made by the Zariel or Bomet Days for Girls Enterprises in Kenya, so that we keep the economy there, and also help families with self-reliance and economic development.
The Enterprises that we support, employ families to sew and distribute the kits, which allows those families to pay for food and school fees for their children. Along with the 25 children we support in school directly in Kenya, at least 12 additional students are supported in school because we fundraise here for the reusable femining hygiene kits, and allow the families in Kenya to make them. It keeps our focus on economic development and self-reliance in families.
Our goal for 2019 will be 1000 kits (or more) as well, so watch for that $5 Friday Fundraiser!
Our September $5 Friday Fundraiser was in partnership with HopeSaC International, which is run by Cindy Miller. Our goal was to raise the funds to take 20 HopeSaCs to Kenya on our Fall expedition to teach families how to cook with thermal cooking. We were able to reach our goal! We will also be working with the sewing centers in Kenya to teach them how to make and sell the HopeSaCs, saving time and fuel costs, and providing hot meals without spending hours cooking over a fire.
And finally, our October/November $5 Friday Fundraiser is for School Fees for 25 kids in Kenya. These kids come from families we are working with, and range in age from Kindergarten to Vincent, who is graduating this year after 3 years in our Youth Education Program. We met Vincent when he was a Sophomore, and have had the chance to support him in school and watch his family really thrive from it. Mercy, his mother who is in this video, was a recipient of our Business Box for Families, and now has a vegetable stand where she sells vegetables. We have had the opportunity to visit her twice this year, and her smile says it all. She is very happy.
If you would like to help contribute to the $5 Friday Fundraiser to raise the $6000 needed for school fees in 2019, click here!
100 Humanitarians Turned 3 years old in July, after making it through the “Terrible Twos!” Not really, we had an amazing year with three full expeditions and a great deal of love and accomplishments. Some highlights:
Building 3 Water Storage Systems (3000 liter tanks) in three areas of Kenya that have provided rainwater for families in the areas
Donated 5 Water Filters from The Waterbearers organization to provide clean water to families
Built 20 garden boxes and 8 garden towers for families in Bomet and Nkareta, Kenya
Distributed 1000+ Days for Girls Kits sewn by women in the Zariel and Bomet sewing centers
Supported 25 students in school from Kindergarten to Senior year with three graduates and one happening at the end of the year
Donated 3 goats, 5 chickens, and a cow to families in Bomet and Ntulele
Supported our first post-high school student to go to Teacher’s College
Planted 3500 trees
Built the Tabby Training Center in Bomet to serve the community with mentoring classes in economic development
So much more than that happened, but how do you explain all of the emotions and feelings and experiences that happen on these expeditions? You don’t, so we invite you to come with us! Our expeditions are being built out for 2019. There are four opportunities to travel with 100 Humanitarians to Kenya, but these trips are filling up quickly!
February 2019 with Scott and Becky Mackintosh – 2 spots available June 2019 with Heidi Totten – Currently accepting deposits October 2019 with Renae Southworth – Creating the Wait List November 2019 with Heidi Totten – Creating the Wait List
If Kenya is calling, now is the time to let us know what your plans are to join us!
Serve Locally, Give Globally. In early April, Lori Hildebrand and I did an assembly at Rose Creek Elementary in Riverton, Utah, sharing with them our experiences in Kenya. Lori and her sons are joining 100 Humanitarians International for our June expedition to serve kids in Kenya, and wanted to do a fundraiser to help pay for school fees and trees that we are planting on our trip. Lori went to Kenya twice, in 2013 and 2014, and knew that when her sons, Max and Henry, were old enough, she would take them.
Lori approached her sons’ school, and asked if they would be willing to let us do an assembly, and then launch a Quarters for Kids in Kenya campaign for ten days. The school loved the idea, and set a goal to raise $1000, or 4 quarters per child.
Go out into the neighborhood/community and ask people if they have any opportunities to do service in exchange for quarters. Projects could include weeding, lawn mowing, dusting, anything!
Gather quarters and put them in your classroom “Quarters for Kenya Kids” box.
Each day, the teacher turns the boxes into the office to be put in a bigger jar for counting.
Do this for ten days, and then we count.
In ten days, Rose Creek Elementary kids were able to raise $1521.21! They beat their goal by $500. The best part? They want to make this an annual fundraiser and be a part of helping educate these kids in Kenya.
Where Do the Funds Go?
100 Humanitarians International is currently sponsoring 25 children in Kenya in school. Eleven are in Primary School, and this fundraiser will keep them all in school for the remainder of the year. $1000 will go towards those school fees. On our June expedition, we will be planting trees with children at schools as well, so the additional $500 will go towards purchasing trees for our team to plant, as part of a reforestation project that we are working on.
Would you like to host a “Serve Locally, Give Globally” fundraising campaign at your school? You can choose from a variety of projects:
The jeeps rumbled up the mountain, winding on bumpy dirt roads. Out the windows were fields of green interrupted by rectangular dung huts baked hard in the African sun, several of them with brightly colored cloth drying on a fence.
Everything was so new to us. Life is slower there, taken at the same pace as the plants growing in the fields. As always in Suswa, every time we passed someone, they would smile and wave.
It was the Mau. We were on our way to church.
The church stands atop a green hill, surrounded by farms. The building itself is made of wood and corrugated metal. As we entered, we were met by hugs leaning to the left, then to the right, and greetings of “Supa oleng.” We were invited to sit in pastel plastic chairs, and services began in song. Immediately we are invited to take part in dancing with the congregation. Music is a universal language and soon we are a part of a writhing mass of worshipers. We learn the steps quickly and wind around the church.
When the song was over, we sat in our chairs again, a part of something new and different, but ancient. We were introduced one by one and sang for the congregation.
After services, Pastor Ben invited us to walk to the home of a woman with three children. “She has been ill,” he tells us. “She wasn’t at church today.”
We met Emily and her three children outside her dung hut, surrounded by fields of corn. The roof of her home was a sheet of clear plastic held in place by stones and logs. Her children’s faces were surrounded by flies. The children without shoes. Emily with a slight limp.
The depth of what we are trying to do struck us. After the upbeat, faith filled church service, this was a crash back to reality. I think the whole team had the same question, “What are we going to do for this family? How can we teach self-reliance in the face of such poverty?”
We asked Emily if we could enter her home. Three of us stepped into the shadows and had to turn on the flashlights of our phones to see. Smoke hung in the air from the cooking fire in the tiny kitchen. It nearly choked us. Everything was a deep black color from the soot. There was no ventilation.
Heidi turned to me, “Living like this is as bad as smoking.”
Through interpretation from Pastor Ben and Moses, we learned that Emily has access to water. She has experience growing corn, and can use that experience to grow other vegetables. Our decision was that a garden box would be a good start for her.
The weight of this work seems too much to bear sometimes. Self-reliance and success seems so far away for some of the families. So much needs to be done and all we can do is a small part. Our efforts are a drop in the bucket of the need we see as we travel up and down the rough roads of Kenya.
The walk back to the jeeps was far quieter than it had been on the way to Emily’s. All of us lost in the vastness of need.
In my two trips to Kenya, I have learned much about the power of “the start.” I’ve learned to have faith in the waiting and watching of these families. Emily will get a garden box. And like the planting of a seed, through the garden box, we will watch her begin to grow what she can.
Going to Joyce’s house was one of my favorite days of our November trip. She is open, hopeful, helpful, and kind. Not only did we get the chance to pull garden weeds and plant her garden, we had the opportunity to teach children about the benefit of hard work.
There were about three of us pulling weeds, our gloves covered in the heavy Mara dirt. The sun beat down on us as we filled little buckets with noxious weeds. Outside the garden fence eight young boys stood watching us with curiosity, fingers grasping the chain link.
In Kenya, it isn’t uncommon for children to shout, “Give me sweets!” when they see a group of white people. These boys hadn’t asked, but the expectation hung in the air between us. Suddenly, Sarah came up with a brilliant plan. “If we get some of the snacks out of the jeep, we could ‘pay’ them for weeding.”
I ran to the jeep, thankful to be standing upright after pulling garden weeds. I grabbed the first snacks I could get my hands on – fruit snacks. Coming back to the garden, Sarah took one and waved it to the boys gesturing to the garden. “Come help us weed, and you can get sweets.” Language barriers are nothing to young boys who were hoping for sweets.
Before we knew it we were surrounded by boys of varying heights, all willing to learn how to weed. Becci drew circles around the plants we wanted to keep and showed them how to pull the other plants. Before long, we had black soil between the vegetables.
When they were finished, Sarah handed out fruit snacks to dirt covered hands. They were eaten with smiling, glowing faces.
Now, these boys can recognize weeds and they know that they can get paid for work.
It reflects what we learn every day in Kenya. We look for the good in the people we meet. We draw a protective circle around it and encourage it to flourish. Then the parts that aren’t beneficial, we start to gently pull them in a better direction. The beauty of this is, that as we start to help them to grow, they help us to grow. It’s a circular pattern. When we leave Kenya, our soul has been weeded efficiently. We come back to our homes different than when we left…better…with more space to plant the good things in life.
If you would like to donate to build garden boxes for families in Kenya, you can do so here.