Category Archives: Fundraising

Tangible results, excited children

In recent conversations, I’ve been summing up my role at Hatua Likoni as a ‘Management Consultant.’ The majority of my efforts dealt with the internal workings of the organization, putting systems in place that will keep it growing and functioning smoothly, hopefully for years to come. Most of my results are therefore somewhat invisible to anyone glancing at the organization. It was not the typical “go volunteer in Africa” experience and I’m fine with that. I know exactly how crucial strong internal management and various sets of systems are for the success of an organization’s programs, and the satisfaction of its staff.

I did have one big project though that could have a very visible and amazing impact on the people of Likoni. My role in it was somewhat small, but it provided the key push to get momentum stirred up in the community to carry it forward to completion. (And that is exactly the type of role that I believe foreign development workers should have in developing communities! Inspire local people to address and resolve their own issues and needs.)

Back in September, I organized an event at Hatua for International Literacy Day. It is an official holiday founded by UNESCO, celebrated annually on September 8th, and first observed in 1967.  The aim of the day is to focus attention on the need to promote worldwide literacy. On this day, individuals, organizations, and countries throughout the world renew their efforts to promote literacy and demonstrate their commitment to providing education for all.

On my initial tour of Hatua in June, I saw boxes of donated books locked in one of the bathroom stalls. We had no shelves to put them on, and no funds to create a library that would allow students and adults to check them out. So there they sat… Until this day that celebrates literacy initiatives, when we opened up the boxes! We picked out a few hundred books, sorting them into those for Young Children, Primary School students, Secondary School students and Adults.  And we set up a large table surrounded by chairs for each category.

Nine local schools sent students to participate, and local organizations, businesspeople, and individual friends and supporters of Hatua Likoni also came.  Over 150 people attended the event.

A local musician donated his sound system for our use that day, and chairs and a stage were set up in one half of the large hall. Eight talks on the topic of literacy were given by local residents, educators, and government officials. They all encouraged the students to pursue their goals and further their schooling.

Hatua Likoni’s primary objective is providing high-quality affordable education and academic guidance to underprivileged, intelligent students.  The people of Likoni are valuing education as more and more important for their children, but resources remain limited, and so therefore do opportunities.  In order to promote this enthusiasm for learning and reading, Hatua gave Likoni a “library for a day” so that children and adults could enjoy the thrill of reading – an activity that few have ever been able to cultivate.

Immediate Outcomes:

  • In the 24 hours following the event, 8 children showed up at our office asking to check out books from the “library.”  Adults and children continued to show up through December, wanting some time with our books. We decided to print temporary member cards so that we could check out books to people, and they loved it!
  • Hatua Likoni co-founder Gabrielle Fondiller and Rashid Gakucha, District Representative to the National Youth Council, discussed the situation, and decided to pursue raising the necessary funds without the government’s assistance, as long-ago promised funds were never going to arrive.
  • A stakeholder’s meeting was held ten days after the event, which led to the establishment of the Likoni Library Planning Committee, comprised of local teachers. This committee is organizing a local “harambee” (fundraiser event) for the library early this spring.

We are very optimistic about being able to raise enough money to equip the already-built (but empty) library space with furniture and shelves.

  • A carpenter was called in to estimate costs and they are estimated at 523,295 Ksh –> only $6,977!

Can you help us reach this very attainable goal?  Can you donate a shelf or a chair to Likoni’s first-ever library?  Go to our Library page to see donation options, and to read more about the five-year history of this effort to provide a library for these Kenyan children.  If you’d like to know more, ask me anything you like!

Right now, kids crouch on the floor of our office to sift through stacks of books, because we don’t have shelves there either. You can be a part of fixing this, and providing a learning environment that will encourage success!

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Filed under education, Fundraising

Thank you!

picture by flickr user jaredchapman

The generosity and kindness of friends and loved ones is the biggest blessing one can ever hope for, truly. And I am, truly, blessed. I am all paid up, and today, I really began to realize that I am going to be living in Kenya in 6 weeks!

As I told one of my amazing supporters this weekend, I’m good at convincing myself that all will be fine no matter what I have in my account – but the relief I feel getting so much support from friends builds such richer confidence as I ready myself to go out on this journey into so much unknown.

Your belief in me, and in this work, and in my decision to pursue this experience, will be buoying me for many months to come.

Thank you to …
Dav, Maryann, Alison, Dan, Kleigh, Eric, Wendy and Howard, Rob, Uncle John, Ivan, Icka, Hope, Barclay, Sandi and Rich, Chris, Max, Brian and Helen, Alain, Sara, Elizabeth, Laura, Naomi, Linh and Erno, Jason S, Francisco, Sam, Roy, Darcy, Amy, Brian, JD, Jason E, Thom, J, Hilary, Tristan, Heidi and Joe, Mary, Laura and Sean, Olga, Kyle and Trish, and Liz !!!
With all of your help, your donations came together to provide 63% of my program fees! I am blown away, and am so grateful for your friendship and generosity.  Thank you for supporting this work, and this program, and my part in it.  I can’t wait to meet the people I’ll be working with and to get to know the neighborhood that I’ll be helping grow.

Thank you to Matthew, Alain, Chelsea and Kirk, Cynthia, Kathryn and AB who offered up their frequent flyer miles so generously! (after many complicated attempts, I used only my own in the end, but that lessens the offers not a bit.)
And to so many others who sent their love and happy wishes, thank you!

I said it when I began this campaign to raise funds, and I’ll say it again.  It’s especially heartening knowing that my own community here was the the support that I needed so that I can help another community less fortunate than ours build a better life for itself.

We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend. ~Robert Louis Stevenson

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Filed under Fundraising, Motivation

Donation window re-opened!

Last Wednesday, I wrote a hefty check to cover the balance due on my program fees.  Later that night, some more donations were submitted via PayPal (thank you!), so I was told that I could bring a new check in on Monday for the lesser amount now due.

That means that if you wanted to send in a donation, but forgot or thought the window had passed, that you still can! You now have until Monday May 10, 11am PT to submit a donation via .

So many dear friends and family have been wonderfully generous already and I have been incredibly touched.  No matter the size of the donation, knowing you are there to help me gives me such a warm feeling as I prepare to head out into a life of unknowns.

As of right now, I’ll be writing another $2000 check to FSD on Monday.  Anything you can give to chip away at that amount is great!  Truly, a $25 or $50 donation makes a great difference to me, and is so appreciated.

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Filed under Fundraising

Choosing how to use my ‘American Opportunity’

Thanks to the American Opportunity Tax Credit, I got a large chunk of my tuition costs back in my tax refund, and I sent it directly to FSD.  While I bet the government would prefer I spend my refund on goods that will bolster the US economy, I find this transfer of funds very appropriate!

I’ve been very blessed in my life to have parents who were willing to sacrifice whenever necessary to ensure that I received the best education available.  My schooling has allowed me so many brilliant opportunities in life – I cannot fathom a life without it.  My career choice is motivated by the fact that so many parents in the developing world are deprived of the ability to give the gift of education and opportunity to their children.

My parents instilled in me an appreciation of and thirst for education, which drew me to return to school for my Master’s degree.  Now, as I finish that degree this semester, I thank you, Uncle Sam, for helping me further my education, and my opportunities, so that I may help others further theirs!


Filed under Fundraising, Motivation