Sunday, August 24, 2008


So, I guess I can't call it my African Blog anymore cause I'm not in Africa anymore. But since this is probably my second last blog (I'll write one more after my aunt's wedding and before I go home on the 1st) I'm not going to change it. After all, most of it is still about Africa.

Right now, I want to tell you all a bit about the organization we are starting (me and my Kenyan friends). I'm really excited about it. Its called Nuru, which s Swahili for light, and its aim is to help the families living in the slums - in abject povery - in the area of Mombasa where I was staying. This can include everything from sending children to school, feeding programs, proper latrines, clean water, even microfinance in the longer term. If things work out, we can expand into other areas and tackle other issues like family planning, medical treatment, etc. The great thing about this organization is that we can do as little or as much as the money we have allows. at the beginning when we have a little, we can do a little and things can always grow if we get more sponsorship.

The idea came, as I mentioned, when we were in Moshi and Bobo decided he wanted to get his group of friends to help the people in the slums in Chuda (particularly the children) the same way that the organization "Training for Life" was helping students in Tanzania. During my last weeks in Uganda, after rafting the Nile, I spent some time in Kampala during which I visited some street children's organizations in teh city with Kay, an English woman also working with Edirisa who is planing to start a project for the street children in Kabale, and Emma, one of our translators for workshops at the primary schools, who used to work with street kids in Kampala, and indeed was once one himself. I leanred a great deal from the tours we took. Emma even brought us into the "field" to meet some street kids and taught us how best to approach them and speak with them. We got an audience with the director of a project called the Tigers Club, where we got some quality advice, and samples of materials like brochures and newletters to copy ideas from. I will be staying in contact with all those people and getting advice from them whenever we need it.

When I got to Kenya, we had a meeting with me, Bobo and two Jays (big Jay and small Jay). Big Jay has some experience working with organizations, so he has taken over a lot of the directing of the organization. We decided that we would start small, with a feeding program and helping with uniforms and books so that the children of several families can be sent to school. The next day, we went into the slums and interviewed several mothers, as well as the elder and a community childcare worker, asking what are the biggest problem facing people living in the slums, and what they would like to see from an organization. School was the common denominator, cause everyone wants to see their children into a brighter future. Clothes, financial stability and prevention of diseases like cholera, tb and aids were others. We decided to start by sponsoring the school-aged children of three families, each of which is living with no income, little or no support and existing with a mother and up to six kids in one room.

I took the guys to visit Kodonde, the director of WOFAK, the organization I worked with while I was there. He explained the best way to register the organization and offered to hook them up with some other local organizations once they were registered. That way, if they don't have the resources to help someone, we can send them somewhere that does. Like HIV positive people can be sent to WOFAK, who can give them the help they need much better than we can at this point. I am very grateful for Kodonde's support.

I think the best thing at this point is to get the input and advice of as many people as possible and to put together a good constitution and proposal, get registered and get everything going. If you guys have any ideas from personal experience of starting up an organization, I would love to hear them. Fundraising ideas would be greatly appreciated. ;)

Can't wait to see you all in a week!!!

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