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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.

— In addition to school supplies, proceeds from the harambee will be put toward replacing two of 12 classrooms at a primary school in Ewaso where nearly 500 students attend class — with up to 70 students in one classroom.

Programs supported by Loisaba include student and teacher housing, scholarships for high school and college students and salaries for teachers and school nurses. There are also needs for potable water, AIDS awareness efforts and wildlife conservation programs.

“Our list of programs and activities is quite long and encompasses many aspects of this region’s needs. Our mission is ‘To never let the sun set on those in need’ and our goal is to have these projects, which are welcomed and supported by the leaders and residents of the Ewaso community, be self-sustaining,” said Bartkowski.

Needs of women in the area are also great, and Bartkowski has taken the helm with many programs to benefit that group, including the Pledge of Women Products within the Koija Women’s Group. Bartkowski said the Koija women are one of the most overlooked sectors in Kenya and that many of them are widows due to AIDS and other factors, and have large families to support.

“On my first trip to Kenya in 2006, I met with the Koija Women …to see the various beaded leather projects they were working on to sell to visitors and tourists. (They) formed an organization from six local communities to pool materials and design and create various products such as bracelets and bowls,” she said.

She said the products were amazing and she thought there may be an opportunity to sell them here to increase sales for the women. Thanks to her efforts, local vendors include Adirondack Cotton Co. in Bolton Landing, Sloppy Kisses and Spa Cascada in Saratoga Springs and The Pilates Studio in Latham.

“They lack any formal education and there are no traditional job opportunities in their very rural region. By giving (them) the opportunity to sell their products at a global level, we have greatly increased their income potential and their ability to support their families,” said Bartowski.

The foundation also helps to provide medical supplies for a health clinic in Kenya that serves 19,000 impoverished Laikipiak Masaai and Samburu tribes people

For more on the harambee and the foundation, visit www.loisabaccf.org.

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