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Community gathering to benefit Kenya kids

Life in Kenya is arid and its people poverty-stricken. A local fundraiser will seek to capture the spirit of the Kenyan harambee get-together to benefit the Loisaba Community Conservation Foundation and send school supplies to children in a Kenyan village. Submitted photo.

Life in Kenya is arid and its people poverty-stricken. A local fundraiser will seek to capture the spirit of the Kenyan harambee get-together to benefit the Loisaba Community Conservation Foundation and send school supplies to children in a Kenyan village. Submitted photo.

— Chances are you’ve taken part in a harambee, though you probably knew it by another name.

In Kenya, a harambee can be as simple as a community gathering. The name comes from the Swahili word meaning “together pushing forward.” One local group is looking to embody that spirit and help Kenyans at the same time through an event at Village Pizzeria in Middle Grove on Friday, Sept. 7.

The Loisaba Community Conservation Foundation, Inc., anon-profit organization based in Saratoga is hosting the harambee from 6 to 9 p.m. Each $35 entry fee (also a tax deductible donation) will get you beer, wine and a variety of tapas. The donation will also outfit one student in the impoverished village of Ewaso with a backpack filled with school supplies.

“We decided to sponsor the harambee, a community based event modeled after similar events in the Ewaso community to raise awareness for (their) needs and the many projects our fundraising efforts support,” said Susan Bartkowski, a trustee with the Loisaba Foundation.

The school supplies will be delivered by a cargo vessel.

“We had the opportunity to get a shipping container and thought, ‘What can we fill it with?’” said Jim Towne, also a trustee of the foundation and principal of Towne, Ryan & Partners law firm. He added that the backpacks really give the kids a sense of identity.

Both Bartkowski and Towne have been to Kenya several times and see the school and the kids as some of those in greatest need.

“It’s not unusual to see an 8-year-oldteaching a 16-year-old reading. It’s a different school system,” said Towne. Kids in Kenya go to school year-round, excluding December and April.

Towne said life in Ewaso is exists in a “different paradigm” than it does in the west. The life expectancy of Kenyans has been undercut by the AIDS epidemic, tuberculosis and extreme drought.

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