I want to take a moment to talk about a nonprofit I have been contributing to for the past few years due to my sister’s involvement and passion. My sister has a master’s in public health and has always been interested in international public health. She has traveled all over the world supporting various organizations and is currently bestowing her expertise domestically at the UVA Cancer Center where she is developing and implementing programming on cancer prevention in the most rural areas of Virginia (and hopes to soon spread their efforts to West Virginia). I am both inspired and proud of her and it is through her that I, and my family, started supporting the East African Center.
East African Center, EAC, is a community-based organization that provides education and health programs to several villages on Kenya’s coast. My sister volunteered out there for a few months as part of her master’s program and has continued to be heavily involved as a volunteer, currently acting on their board. The EAC is committed to assisting communities to achieve empowerment through adult and child literacy programs, health education, and poverty eradication projects.
I currently provide a monthly donation that supports the costs of a student going through primary school. My assigned student is Mariam Swaleh. She is currently in second grade and my sister actually lived with her family when she was volunteering for the EAC in Kenya. Throughout the school year, I receive both physical mail and email updates with projects from Mariam as well as updates on her progress in school. For only $30 a month I am helping Mariam receive an education by contributing funds that both pay for classroom supplies and the maintenance of the physical school building. The organization also supports high school students and their first class of high school students graduated in December of 2016. The classes at their school consist of 3 pre-school levels and Kindergarten through 8th grade. Four years ago, when their students began graduating from our school, the EAC made the commitment to support each of them through high school. Raising these funds has been a challenge for the organization, but well worth the effort with 21 graduates! The EAC is particularly excited of the two young women graduates that are headed to college in September in a country where less than 50% of girls finish high school at all.
In addition to supporting Mariam, I try to contribute when I can to various other fundraising activities the EAC hosts throughout the year. The April fundraiser they had was the “No-Show Event” which always makes me laugh! The concept is simple, spend the night how you choose by going nowhere and use the money you would have spent on an actual charity event to directly impact education and health in Kenya! I mean, I am totally about “Netflix and charity”!
In their most recent email update I learned that the Vutakaka Junior School and the Takaungu community held a Harambee, their very own fundraiser to build new nursery school classrooms at the site of the primary school. (Trying saying all of those words three times fast! Or once… I can’t even manage once…) They raised $3300 USD in addition to 100 iron roofing sheets! Merging the school sites has been an ongoing goal for the EAC and this Harambee marks a new milestone in our sustainable future.
Songs, stories, traditional dances, and skits from the students of Vutakaka Junion School were shared as part of the Harambee, and a wonderful speech was given by Mr. Mbaruk, a lecturer at Mt. Kenya University. Professional acrobats even participated as the MC auctioned off chickens, bags of flour, and mangos! Through donations from Mombasa Maize Millers, Zinj Design, the Guest of Honor, parents and community members, a new classroom is going to be built! This is huge news for the community and I am excited to be a part of it.
I encourage you to get more information about EAC through their social media platforms and consider donating through their website. The EAC has a Facebook Page, Instagram, and Twitter account. It is an organization that is nearly entirely volunteer-based, they do have paid employees, including teachers, located in Kenya, and you can be guaranteed that the money you donate is directly benefiting the students and women in Kenya. But even if you don’t donate to EAC, find an organization that speaks to your heart and consider contributing time, money, or both to support their mission. You will not regret it and every dollar makes such a difference to these organizations and communities.
Questions for You:
- Do you have a non-profit organization that you support?
- How do you volunteer or contribute locally, nationally, or internationally?