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.
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.
On Saturday we held very first fundraiser…a garage sale. It was a great success! Thanks to the donations within the community, the hard work of our volunteers and of course to our “customers” who purchased items at the sale. We managed to generate enough funds to build our very first latrine in Kenya! It feels really good to see our first event become a success. It just goes to prove that when we set our minds to something and we all help…great things happen!
Born in a field without any medical assistance, Jackson Ombunga Olumasai joined the world in a small village in Western Kenya called Shianda Butere. At the age of nine Jackson suffered the loss of his loving mother and went to live with his Grandmother. At the age of twelve he then went to live under the care of his father and step mother. Wanting to attend school, Jackson had to raise the equivalent of twenty five cents daily for school fees and food.
Each day presented struggles for this young man who worked so hard to create a future for himself. Living under the primary care of his step-mother Jackson soon came to realize that she lacked compassion and care towards him. He was physically beaten by her and was forced to share food with the family dog. On occasion Jackson was provided with food intended for humans however it was often five days old and riddled with flies and cockroaches. Jackson was regularly sent home from school as he didn’t have the necessary supplies, had holes in his uniform or wasn’t able to pay the fees.
Eventually his step mother relocated herself to the city leaving Jackson alone for the most part. In order to fend for himself he would climb a mango or guava tree so he could nourish himself with the fruit. After school he would return home, wash his uniform and would often have to climb the fruit trees as there was nothing to eat for dinner. During this time Jackson survived by doing casual jobs and caring for his father’s cows. He lived in a small structure that provided no electricity and filled with water when it rained. He owned two sets of clothing, one of which was his school uniform. He got his very first pair of shoes at the age of nineteen.
When Jackson completed his schooling he moved to Nairobi. This presented new opportunities for him and he was able to start his career with Asira Foundation. During that time he also volunteered with various organizations including Nyumbani Children’s Home, Kabiro Trust and the Starfish Charity.
Along with supporting himself and contributing to his community, Jackson met a wonderful and compassionate Canadian woman named Amanda. She would eventually become his wife and five years later they moved to Canada. The couple now have three beautiful sons and play a very active role in Kuamini. Jackson is our Board President and helps to lead us in the direction that allows us to best give a hand up to people in Kenya. His life experiences and knowledge of the country are the foundation of our mission. We also applaud and acknowledge how Jackson has overcome his struggles and committed a large part of his life to make things better.
Our board members had a meeting on Monday and I find myself really inspired by the people on “Team Kuamini”. A really positive, fun and compassionate group of people. One of us will get an idea and from it, sparks ten more ideas from all of our creative minds.
One of the major topics of discussion that we tackled in the board meeting was fundraising. It’s really the next step that we need to make in order to progress with getting the word out about Kuamini and starting to do the work we need to do in Kenya.
We brainstormed many fundraising ideas and we are going to be starting these initiatives in just a few weeks! The first thing we are doing is a garage sale in Paris Ontario. We are going to sell good, used items and also delicious baked goods. The funds that we raise at the sale will go towards renting a booth at another event which will give us the chance to get the word out about Kuamini and also to raise more funds so that we can purchase mosquito nets and possibly construct latrines in Kenya.
If you live in Brant county and would like to either donate goods, volunteer at the sale or shop at the sale we’d love to hear from you!! You can leave a message here or contact us on facebook.
A few years ago I found myself in a very stressful life situation. One of the deals where you can’t really imagine how serious things can get until you live it. It involved my child who was born very early and had many physical issues that were life threatening. It seemed every other day her father and I were hoping for a miracle. Part way through this ordeal we decided to make our focus totally positive. We no longer used any words or phrases that suggested she wouldn’t survive. While thoughts of what might happen definitely crept into our heads, we pushed them to the back and chose to focus on the positive. I really think that there is so much power in being positive. It doesn’t matter if it is on a large or small scale. The power of being positive will always have a great impact.
As we, the team of Kuamini make plans and look towards the future we are positive and we know that our work will make a difference. We believe that miracles do happen and we believe we are doing great things. We have a long road ahead of us and sometimes we will be tired or frustrated. We’ll always remember how important our mission is though and we will work to stay positive.
One of the major challenges people in Kenya face is Malaria.
Malaria is a mosquito borne infectious disease that is spread by female mosquitos biting unprotected people. Common symptoms of Malaria include fever and headache however in more serious cases people with Malaria experienced slipping into a coma and even death.
The two best ways to prevent Malaria include the use of mosquito nets and insect repellants. Unfortunately these items are not readily available in the areas most affected by Malaria.
Last year over 200 million people got Malaria and over 1 million people died from the disease. Most of those who passed away were children living in Africa. These numbers may actually be higher in reality as many cases were not documented.
The Kuamini team have talked about this serious issue in Kenya and have included this concern in their action plan to bring wellness to the people of Kenya. One of our goals will be to provide mosquito netting to those who need it. This will increase health and well being which will allow people to attend school, go to work and to thrive in general.
I the future we will look at how to fund the netting, where to get it from and how to distribute it to those in need. Where there is a will there is a way!
We are a dynamic group of individuals based out of Southern Ontario and we are working together to form a charity that will aid in the well-being of individuals living in Kenya.
Follow this blog to learn more about our process, the projects we are working on, who we are helping, who we are and how you can be involved.
We welcome your comments, suggestions and of course, your encouragement!
Stay tuned as we add more information to this blog, create our website and expand our social media presence. We have a challenging but beautiful journey ahead of us!