Building Sustainable Development

By Jaclyn Snook

Poverty. This is a word with many meanings. It’s a word that touches the lives and hearts of every nationality, country and city. Poverty. This is a word that no one wants to have attached to their name and in many cases is a word that turns many away with an instant onset of fear. Poverty touches the lives of people I call my dear friends and family. What does poverty look like? That is a question that would take weeks to even scratch the surface of. Poverty is mostly seen as a lack of basic needs such as food and water. But poverty can also be relational, a lack of personal loving relationships.

My heart burns to see every person old and young have the same opportunity to reach their full potential in life. It’s my dream that children all around the world grow up with the opportunity to get an education, have food in their belly and someone to love them. This is what we are trying to do at Kuamini. We are helping children in desperate need of assistance to go to school and have a meal to feed their belly and mind. This fills my heart with so much joy knowing that a child who would otherwise become just another statistic is given a chance. They will be world changers.

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We at Kuamini strive to promote sustainable development in all the areas of our work. We have a desire to give a hand up not a hand out. We desire to end the cycle of poverty in the lives of the people we reach and create a relationship with them not just mechanically “help” them with our magic western ways.

Charity giving plant

Creating Sustainable Development

If my last statement sounded harsh…I’m sorry. I just have seen the richness of the culture and beauty amongst the poorest of poor. I’ve seen people with absolutely nothing give with so much generosity and love than people who have it all. This challenged me and still does every single day. A woman raising her children alone, living in a mud hut with nothing gave me 5 yards of fabric because she cared for me. This woman who sewed her heart out to put food on the table and send her children to school sacrificed so much to show she cared. This woman lived in material poverty but was one of the wealthiest in spirit I have ever met. She didn’t need me, I needed her. She didn’t need me to buy her material goods I needed her to teach me about generosity and love. As a charity we strive to look deeper than surface level when we assist those in need. We want to help but only if it will help someone help themselves.

What does this look like? Buying and raising chickens, buying a brick maker, providing a meal for hungry students, helping children go to school so they have a chance at a future. It looks like life partnership, also known as friendship! I wouldn’t mindlessly feed a friend’s addiction or weakness. I would love and partner with them to see that they reach their full potential. This is what we stand for at Kuamini – serving others through sustainable development.

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2015 in Review

In 2015, we started blogging more actively, but there is definitely room to grow! We want to share with our readers what Kuamini is working on, our vision of our charity’s future and about us as a team. Look for even more growth in Kuamini in 2016!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 520 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 9 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Clothing Drive

After a HUGE effort on the parts of our Board members, our fabulous volunteers and an amazing amount of donors; our clothing drive for Kuamini was a HUGE success! We are talking 16, 851 pounds of success as that is what we were able to collect. This large amount of clothing and household items has yielded us a cheque of just over $2200! This money will go a long way to help us achieve our goals in Kenya. We are currently building a latrine, running a food program and running an awesome education program as well. We have so much to be proud of!

Here are a few photos from the clothing drive and also a few photos from the team Kenya, showing our new latrine!

J and T clothing drive

volunteers clothing drive

clothing drive

new latrine june 2015

We are currently running an online trunk sale of beautiful Stella and Dot accessories as our most current fundraiser. You can shop online from the comfort of your own home by following the link on our Facebook page. A portion of the sales will be going to Kuamini.

We are also in the planning stages of a golf tournament fundraiser. This will be a fun event in Brant County. A truly wonderful way to spend time on the golf course and raise money for a wonderful cause.

If you haven’t started to follow us on Facebook yet now would be the perfect time. There are lots of photos and updates to let you know what Kuamini is up to!

building latrine june 2015

Trip to Kenya

In less than one month, this beautiful family is travelling to Kenya. This is the Ombunga family and parents Jackson and Amanda sit on the Board of Kuamini. (see Jackson’s story in an earlier post!). The whole family is travelling to Kenya in December where they will be making lots of headway for our charity. They will be distributing mosquito netting, books and clothing and they will also be building a large community latrine while there. How exciting is that?

We can’t wait to hear about their visit and share pictures with everyone about their progress.

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Meet Jaclyn Snook : Vice president of Kuamini

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When you first meet Jaclyn you immediately become drawn to her bright, beautiful smile and her welcoming way. What lies beneath that smile however, is one of the most selfless and caring individuals I have ever come across. Jaclyn truly puts the needs of others ahead of her own and has dedicated so much of her young life to helping others.

Recently I sat down and asked Jaclyn some questions about her life’s work and her past experiences. She shared her story and some fabulous photos with me. This is definitely worth the read and it will give you even more of a glimpse at what a dynamic team that is Kuamini.

Q) What makes Kuamini important to you

A) Kuamini means believe and this exactly why this organization means so much to me. I believe that each and every child deserves to have a chance in life to reach their full potential, I believe that each person deserves to live with the basic human rights such as clean drinking water, a safe living situation and education. I believe that there is someone greater who is looking out for those in need and walking step by step through life’s struggles and trials. I believe that as a team we will see change and we will be a part of something great! My personal life is focused around the word believe and so Kuamini is just an extension of that.

Q) What are your past experiences with Africa and with your charity work?

A) I have volunteered in in Uganda on two separate occasions. Once for three months and a second time for 15 months. While I was living there I worked for an organization who had three babies homes throughout the country. I was able to work alongside wonderful men and women who had given their lives to help the most vulnerable children in the country. It changed my life forever. I was able to care for hundreds of children on a daily basis some with great medical needs and some who were orphaned. I experienced the greatest loss that any human could go through while I was there, the death of a child. I saw many children leave this earth despite the efforts of medical professionals. But still my heart believed in change and in a better future for the country. I am currently living in Canada but my heart is daily with my Ugandan family believing alongside them that soon their struggles and trials will subside.

Q) What are your future goals and can you tell us a little but about your personal background?

A) My future goals are to hopefully one day live in Africa and dedicate my life fully to helping those less fortunate that I. But until then I will continue to do the same for the people in my own backyard.

I grew up in a family of four with one older brother. I love music and horses. I love traveling and seeing how others around the world live.

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Every Little Bit Counts

I have talked to a lot of people over the past few years, about volunteering. The most common reason that I have heard the most as to why people don’t volunteer is that they don’t have time. This was followed in a close second by people thinking they can’t offer enough to make a difference. Be it money, time, volunteering for events, spreading the word or any of the many tasks that we perform as members of Kuamini; I have grown to realize that every little bit counts. It is easy to feel overwhelmed when we can’t solve all of the problems that exist but I think it’s important to focus on the little differences that we can make. Every person has something great to offer and the ability to impact the lives of others. This is something I truly believe and I live by it every day.

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What is a latrine?

 

One of the biggest issues that we, Team Kuamini, have identified as a concern in Kenya is the shortage of latrines. Without latrines or bathrooms, people have no choice but to relieve themselves in open spaces. Apart from not being ideal on a personal level, this also creates a huge problem in regards to water. Without bathrooms or latrines it is impossible to maintain clean water and as a result, impossible to maintain good health.

Kuamini has started fundraising and we are spending our first round of profits on building latrines. At approximately $600 Canadian dollars a latrine is quite a luxury in Kenya. But for those of us who have the benefit of flushing toilets, what exactly is a latrine??

A latrine, in simple form is a minimal, simple, pit toilet. There are several different types of latrines and many are based on what materials are available, the knowledge of building a latrine and of course the funds to do so.

It is our hope that we can provide latrines throughout the more desolate areas of Kenya so that when we are able to aid in the clean water issue, we will be able to help keep that water clean and free of human waste.

Below are pictures of a few different latrine styles. One of the goals of our team is that we will be able to teach people living in Kenya to build latrines so that they can earn a living doing that and they will be helping their community in doing so.

covered latrine

common latrine

cement latrine