$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!
A Taste of Kenya and Alex Boye at Club 90 – Part One
A Taste of Kenya. Alex Boye. Seemed like a logical combination, right? Not so. When we decided to do the event, we reached out to two amazing performers, Cactus Jack and Jennifer Marco, who both suggested we reach out to Alex. I took a chance and emailed his people via his website, but didn’t receive a response. So, I just left it up to fate, and boy did fate intervene! A few weeks later, my friend Heather messaged me and said, “Will Moses be awake the night he arrives in the U.S.?” We had decided to fly Moses to the U.S. for a few weeks for different events and meetings that we were putting on, and it turned out that Alex Boye was doing a free concert the night Moses was arriving, and that she had free tickets.
“Yes, Moses will be awake, and will be there in a shuka!” Bless his heart, even though he was exhausted from 30 hours of international travel from Kenya, he got dressed up and we headed downtown to the Eccles Theater in Salt Lake City. The opening act was a jazz band that put us both to sleep, but then Alex took the stage. I knew (KNEW) that if Alex saw Moses in his Maasai shuka that it would be game over. Except he didn’t see him. We didn’t know what to do after the concert and waited around for a bit to see if Alex would come out, but he didn’t. So finally Moses took the reigns and said, “He’s still in the theater so let’s just go in.”
We went back into the auditorium and saw Alex and crew cleaning up the stage. As we walked towards them, suddenly Alex saw Moses and it was like everything went into slow motion as he yelled, “MAASAI!” and jumped off the stage. The next few minutes were a blur, as we met Alex and made arrangements for Moses to join him in filming a video the next day.
Moses Masoi and Alex Boye
I had mentioned A Taste of Kenya to Alex and he thought he would be out of town for it, so that pretty much ended that conversation, but we still had the next day to look forward to. I think Moses was in a shuka more during those first few days in the U.S. than he is during a month in Kenya, but he was a great sport about it.
The next day we met Alex at a drum shop in Salt Lake to film the video. To my knowledge, it was never released to the public, but it was a really fun morning. After we wrapped up, we talked and brainstormed about doing another video where Alex would be able to wear the traditional Maasai clothing, and agreed that we would text and set a date. Little did we know what was going to be in the works over the next few weeks!
When people ask me why I went to Kenya in the first place I smile and say, “Peer pressure.” Before I got on the plane in March of 2015, I had no desire to go to anywhere in Africa. In fact, there was a list of about 50 countries that I planned to visit BEFORE ever setting foot on the continent. However, I had a group of friends who had been to Kenya a couple of times and after listening to them ramble on about it for about two years, I decided it might make a fun girls trip.
I had absolutely no idea what I was in for.
I remember the first day in Western Kenya when we went to visit families after attending an Anglican church on the property of the guest house where we were staying. The music had pierced me to the core, so I was already in a reflective and contemplative mood. Walking down the road I said to my friend, “I just…I don’t even know how to explain what I am feeling about all of this.” She said, “I know. They don’t need us. We need them.”
That phrase has stuck with me ever since, and is often said in different variations by the people who have since gone to Kenya with me. When I returned from Kenya with my DNA completely rearranged, I made it a matter of intense prayer and reflection and kept asking, “What am I supposed to do now?”
Then one Sunday a few months later I was getting ready for church and literally a voice that I can still remember today said, “Go start a group on Facebook called 100 Humanitarians. I’ll let you know why later.” So I did. Right then, on my phone, with no clear picture of what it was supposed to be. I invited some friends who I thought might sort of be interested in it. Turns out that it wasn’t my friends who were interested, but strangers. By the end of 2016 I will have taken over 50 people to Kenya, and I only knew 6 of them prior to all of this starting.
The voice has never come back, but inspiration and direction and nudges have replaced it. When the ideas come, they come fast and furious, and are always bigger than I could possibly imagine. Each trip has a completely different feel, and it’s never like I am learning something for the first time, but more like I am remembering that it is what I am here to do. Many people who have come with me feel the same way. It’s like we are finding each other and combining efforts. Some people have come and gone. Some have taken on the projects that have called to them in Kenya and are running with them at the same rapid pace. The collaboration has brought unbelievable miracles.
Every. Single. Day.
Now, we have over 1300 people in the 100 Humanitarians Facebook group. We have a list of over 100 people who are already planning on going to Kenya with us, and more contact me daily. We have built out a core program that we call “Business Boxes for Families” that provide a cow, a goat, 5 chickens, 3 garden boxes, 10 trees, Days for Girls reusable hygiene kits, and mentoring and education on how to turn it all into a sustainable business.
We are in the process of building the Emparnat Cultural Center on the Maasai Mara with guest houses to provide opportunities for people around world to be a part of our Families Mentoring Families program, where we teach what we know, and learn what the Maasai know, to build a bridge between the cultures.
But most of all, we have built a culture around 100 Humanitarians that is rooted in Love, Trust, and Voluntary Cooperation. Everyone who is a part of what we are doing is there because they choose in and find what it is that calls to them, whether they are on the team in the U.S. or in Kenya.
As 100 Humanitarians expands, we focus as much as possible on two things: mentoring and sustainable economic development. It’s about people, not projects. It’s about connection, not coercion. And it’s working.
The Story of 100 Humanitarians International by Heidi Totten
On our first expedition to Kenya, 100 Humanitarians held a Days for Girls workshop at Eselenkai Girls Primary Boarding School in Kenya. The girls in attendance were girls who had run from Female Genital Mutilation and early marriage, and were mostly in Class 7 and 8, which is 7th and 8th grades in the U.S. We had become aware of the issue of feminine hygiene for girls, and contacted the school to talk to them about the Days for Girls Enterprise and program that we were helping to create in Kenya. At the time, we were supporting one Days for Girls Enterprise, run by Christine Sakali, a woman that we helped fundraise for the previous year to attend the Days for Girls University in Uganda.
After our training with Christine, we met with the girls in a large central hall. Part of the training included not just how to use the reusable feminine hygiene kit, but also hand washing and sanitation. Since then, our workshops have included things like self-defense and how to understand the female cycle. This was a very humbling experience for our team, because until we arrived at the school our expedition had mostly been the fun stuff like The Giraffe Centre and Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi. Realizing what these girls were facing, and how they were so brave to run towards a better life, we couldn’t help but experience a huge range of emotions.
As we distributed the kits, we had some time to spend with the girls, getting to know them and their stories. Many members of our team had the same names as the girls in the school. The girls, though in a very challenging situation, were all smiles and hugs and LOVED having their pictures taken with us. Each of us had a small group of girls swarming us, asking questions and playing with our hair. There aren’t the same physical boundaries in Kenya as there are in the U.S. and affection and love is everywhere. Even though we were the ones that showed up to serve them, all of us came away feeling like we were the ones who were served and taught by the girls.
Since then, we have made every effort to host a Days for Girls workshop on every expedition. We fundraise in the U.S. for kits, and then have Christine and her team sew the kits in Kenya. Her enterprise is able to then support many families with basic needs and school fees for their children. If you would like to donate to our Days for Girls program, click here.
The Mau Forest is a really beautiful area of Kenya, and on my second trip during a very rainy and muddy day, we drove up to visit Tenkes School. When we got out of the jeep, we were greeted by about 15 elders who were on the board of the school. They gave us a tour of the school, and showed us two things that really had an impact on me. First, the desks. There were just not enough for the students, and they were sitting 4-5 in a desk.
There were three classrooms with about 300 students at the school. Each classroom had about 6-8 desks, so most kids were sitting on the floor. Or standing. Can you imagine learning while standing all day? I committed to figure out how to raise funds for 15-20 more desks at least for the school. Turned out that was the really easy thing to do – raise funds. The hard part is cutting down trees and planing wood and building the desks. They don’t have Home Depot down the road with perfect planks for building. That’s the thing you really learn in a developing country quickly; just how unavailable resources are that you can easily get in the U.S.
Next on the tour was the kitchen that volunteer parents use to cook for 300 students each day. Children had to bring their own firewood, or they would get caned or beaten. A typical lunch would be ugali, which is similar to a corn polenta. Kenyans also drink African tea, and so that is often what the students will have. The Mau Forest can get very cold, because it is at a higher elevation than the Maasai Mara. This kitchen was falling apart pretty quickly, and didn’t provide shelter for the cooks when it rained. So my second commitment was to rebuild the kitchen, and we held the event A Taste of Kenya to do just that.
One of the objectives of Tenkes School is to eliminate Female Genital Mutilation through education. These men were very aware of the issue, and were very enthusiastic to share with me how they were working to stop FGM. This was the first time I had experienced that in Kenya from men, and it was really powerful. We spent several hours with them discussing their challenges.
It was a few months later that the kitchen fell down after severe rainstorms in The Mau. We coordinated efforts with the school, and on our first official expedition to Kenya we were able to visit Tenkes School and help build the final desks (we ended up donating 20.) The kitchen was rebuilt, and lunch was cooked for our team in the new kitchen.
The new kitchen was built with two rooms, so that a teacher would be able to sleep on one side. We had lunch with the students and school community, and were invited to eat goat with the elders who were on the Tenkes School Board.
We also planted 75 trees at the school as part of our reforestation project, because trees bring in water, but also provide firewood for the community as they grow. It was a wonderful day at the school and the impact on our team was tangible.