$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!
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.
After finishing up the garden at Joyce’s house she invited us to learn how to make chapati, something sort of like naan bread. This was just one of the experiences of cultural immersion on the November Trip.
She pulled a table out into her yard and gathered all the ingredients flour, water, salt and oil. Then, started a fire in a small stove to heat a pan.
She showed us how to make the dough, stirring it with her hands. Muneria came to help as well.
Like mothers all over the world, she reminded her child to wash his hands before preparing food, which he did in a large blue bowl sitting next to the table. A special plate served as a platform to roll the chapati into perfect circles. He worked quickly, handing the rolled out flat bread to his mother who cooked them. She turned them with her bare hands, using no instrument to protect them from the heat.
Muneria then offered us a chance to roll out the chapati. We took turns, none of ours turning out as round as his. We laughed, feeling the warmth of home with this family who lives a different culture half a world away.
Sarah’s turn came up. She rolled the dough one way getting it stuck to the plate and stretching the dough as she freed it. She used more flour and rolled it some more. “That’s too big.” Joyce laughed, handing her more dough. “Try again.”
She started again, this time paying careful attention to the size, but not the shape. When she finished, it looked like a map of the United States. She handed it to Joyce with a shrug. Joyce shook her head and it was put onto the pan with a little oil to cook.
When David was finished with the water storage system, he came around the house to join us. We invited him to take his turn rolling chapati.
“Fine.” He said. “But mine is going to be round. Not corner, corner, corner, like Sarah’s.” This was met with kind hearted laughter from our group. Joyce pointed to the bowl of wash water. He obeyed.
Then, while rolling out the dough, David told us about how there are times in their culture when men and women separate and make their own food. He showed us how to roll it out to make it round. “See? Like this. You roll, and then turn it.” He pat the dough down. “Roll. And then turn again.”
He handed the dough to Joyce who watched us all with love, curiosity, and a little disbelief at how nutty this group of Americans is.
We dined together on our unifying chapati, rice, and carrots. It was the end of a full day of work, service, mentoring, and unconditional love.
When I say we experience cultural immersion, these are the types of things I am talking about. We get to be in the homes of the families. We learn from them and love them. We put our hands in their soil, climb onto their roof to put up rain gutters, collect water in rivers, dine with them, and hear their stories from their own lips.
By the time we leave, we have a new name, an expanded family, people who pray for us, and a home to come to when we return.
If you would like to join us for an expedition, learn more here.
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.
Joyce is the mother of one of our Kenya team members, Muneria. During our November expedition we were able to visit her, see how her garden was growing, and build a water containment system. The area had quite a drought in our absence, but she had still made the best of it. Healthy green plants had pushed their way through the soil and were a source of food for her family.
While there, we were able to pull up weeds and replant the parts of the garden boxes that had suffered during the dry spell. While building the water containment system, children from the surrounding area helped us collect rocks for the cement base, their faces shining as they find that they can assist these crazy Americans.
At one point during the building project, we needed water for the cement. The call went out, “Who is willing to walk to the river to collect water?”
Several of us wanted to experience what those we are serving live like on a daily basis. A group of us went. We walked down a hill to a small river of brown, dingy water.
The young boys who showed us the way to the river waded in without their shoes to fill the large water containers we brought with us. Upstream there was a man bathing in the same water. It was humbling to see their only water source. After filling the containers, we carried the sloshing jugs of water up the hill, stopping every once in a while to catch our breath.
The cement was made, the water containment system put into place, and the rains came. The water system is now nearly filled, it is watering the seeds we planted, and they are growing.
This is what we do when we go to Kenya, we plant seeds in the ground, and in the hearts and minds of the people. Then we stand back and we watch both people and plants grow.
This isn’t the end of our time at Joyce’s house. There is more to tell, but on a Friday night shortly before Christmas, I am listening to my child taking a shower and reminded how blessed I am to live here, and how undeniably blessed I am to know the people of Kenya. Travel always opens your eyes, but traveling and spending time with the Maasai people has been one of the greatest blessings of my life. I am so grateful for all they have taught me, and so grateful to everyone who has donated to make these missions possible.