Take a minute to understand how the Kitechild model is transforming the way orphanages support themselves and the healthy development of their children. Then take a minute to buy a piglet for the farm at A Better World Children’s Home in Cameroon, and see your investment make a long term impact in the lives of orphans1
2012 was a year of firsts for Kitechild. We implemented our first successful project: a First Aid/CPR training for orphan caretakers in Kenya, we visited the African continent for the first time, we launched a newly re-designed website, launched our first official line of bracelets, and received our first recognitions from Great Non-profits and Guidestar. We have come a long way in terms of projects as well: we constructed three chicken coops in Kenya, a pig farm in Cameroon, and reduced the energy costs of a home in Mexico. Our projects have affected over 500 orphan children, improving their access to nutrition and education.
So what is next? Research and field work in India in the spring, the strengthening of our relationships with on the ground partners in Africa and Latin America, and a concrete definition of our projected outcomes. After reading an article in the huffington post describing the trends in 2013 for non-profits, we strongly agreed with trend number 1, “More demands for outcomes”. Any NGO can have a mission, projects and programs, but what is the bottom line? For Kitechild, the bottom line is improving an orphan child’s living conditions via access to nutrition and education. We meet this bottom line by partnering with the orphanages they live in, creating projects that are either income generating or money saving in a way that generates more funding for food or to pay for school fees. So taking the ‘what’ (bottom line) and the ‘how’ (projects) we come to the outcome: more children enrolled in school, and these children doing better in school because they are being well fed and taken care of. In turn, they can grow up to be successful members of their own communities, and break the cycle of poverty, AIDS, and drug abuse that caused them to become orphans in the first place.
We will also re-enforce our role as a bottom-up organization, not the traditional top-down modes of charity. Our projects are rooted on the ground, working with each home’s local surroundings and what is best for them. Whether its a profitable pig market in Cameroon, or chicken farming in Kenya, we create productivity by making the initial investment to get a project going – and an orphanage on its way to becoming more self-sufficient. Plus, the children get to participate in the process and learn about animal husbandry and farming along the way – valuable skills in the regions where they reside.
More sustainable projects, more understanding of the problems faced by orphanages, and attaining our target outcomes are on the list for Kitechild this year. We hope you will join us as we dive into 2013 full of enthusiasm for our plans!
We’re back from Kenya, with much to share! Over the course of the trip, we visited six different orphanages in Nairobi, Nakuru, and Njabini.
In the six homes, we witnessed a wide range of quality of care and living conditions. We were very impressed with the well-established Flying Kites home, and disheartened by some of the homes that can not employ enough caretakers, leaving 8+ year old children to care for infants. Sanitation also varied greatly between homes located in city slums and those with larger, rural premises. Despite the wide range of resources, it was very evident that each and every home struggles to feed their children a normal amount of food for healthy childhood development. In this region plagued with famine and other food security problems, the homes are only able to feed children twice a day. Seeing this struggle only highlighted the importance and impact of our micro-projects like the chicken coop that bring a higher degree of stability to the most basic aspect of proper childcare.
Following the full funding of the chicken coop project (thank you, donors!), we visited the three homes that will house the coops. Along with the orphanage directors, we conducted final pre-construction site evaluations and built out agreements with the directors regarding the execution and management of the coop.
In Kenya we also developed our relationship with Martha (from the Oasisprogram), who will work as our liaison in Kenya. She will be checking in on our orphanage partners regularly and reporting back to us on the progress of Kitechild projects. Martha is a Social Worker with many years of experience working with orphaned children. As a native Kenyan, she brings an invaluable local understanding to our relationships with orphanage directors. We are very grateful to have Martha working as our boots-on-the-ground contact and expect our projects and homes to experience more success as a result of our working relationship with her.
On a professional level, the trip was very productive, with major steps taken in the development of our projects and relationships with our orphanage partners. On a personal level, we were touched by the joy of the children in the homes despite their hardships and re-inspired to continue to devote our time to the improvement of orphan care around the world.
We would like to thank the orphanage directors for graciously hosting us and collaborating with us to implement projects that will have a measurable impact on their children.
In exactly one week, the Kitechild founders will be touching down in Nairobi, Kenya, to implement several projects and conduct research at the sites of our orphanage partners in the field. Our itinerary includes visits to 12 different homes in the Nairobi area, the planning of a potential large scale greenhouse/farm project, implementation of our recently funded chicken coop project for three different orphanages, and assessment of current care practices of our partners with brainstorming for future project development.
This is our first trip to Africa as an organization and we are very excited to be in the field to get a true sense of the potential for growth and impact. As our projects are designed to be sustainable and most require community involvement for growth, we look forward to meeting local community leaders who will be key informers of assessing the current needs of the children and the best ways to address them through micro-sustainable projects. Our ultimate goal in developing these micro-projects is to transform the quality of care for children without families by helping orphanages be more like homes than institutions.
And of course, we cannot wait to meet all of the inspiring children for whom ours and our donors efforts are intended for. Please follow our blog, twitter, instagram, and facebook for updates from Kenya!
The founders of Kitechild were in NYC this past week for numerous meetings taking place during what is known as “Philanthropy Week”.
With the UN Assembly, the Clinton Global Initiative, and Mashable’s Social Good Conference in town, NGO’s, philanthropists, world leaders, corporations, and anyone involved in social causes descended upon Manhattan to discuss current topics. The two big trends this year are sustainability and empowering women and girls. Kitechild works to contribute to both of these themes. Our micro-projects bring sustainability to orphanage homes, which are usually the last institutions to adopt current best practices, especially when it comes to sustainability. And our network only supports homes that view the education boys and girls as equally important.
And ultimately, empowering women with reproductive health education could decrease the number of unplanned pregnancies and births, leading to less children being placed in orphanages due to mothers not being able or willing to provide for their child. While we work to improve the standards of orphan care in homes around the world, we also strongly support causes that would lead to a reduced number of children who are forced to live in orphanages, most of which, sadly, provide sub-par living conditions for healthy and normal child development. Though our focus is helping orphanages provide the best possible care, we are all for programs that get to the root of the problem and give more children the opportunity grow up with loving parents.
One thing we noticed was the lack of discourse surrounding the worlds’ millions of orphans. Perhaps “orphans” were mentioned once or twice in a byline, but no one really talked about addressing the challenges that orphans and their orphanages face. But with over 100 million orphans in the world (source: UNICEF State of the World’s Children 2012), orphans cannot remain a mere byline. Kitechild is working diligently to bring the issue back into the public sphere, to raise awareness so we can begin to offer tangible solutions for orphanage homes. We also seek to transform the way orphaned children are currently viewed worldwide – in the margins, brushed aside. These children are just like other normal children; they love to play, sing, dance, laugh and love, and they deserve a shot at a normal, healthy life.
There are many awesome ways to rock the Kitechild leather bracelet. Here, our stylish supporter stacks her red bracelet with other bands and an oversized watch for a colorful California look. The bright red bracelet is a popular color this season!
Besides the style, what does wearing a Kitechild bracelet really mean? That you provided an orphan child with the educational items necessary to attend school and succeed academically. Keep rockin’ it, and send us pictures of you sporting your bracelet to our facebook page.
Hey Kitechild fans!
We are launching a new series for our back to school bracelet campaign! The Stylish Supporter Series aims to highlight those fashion forward, big hearted individuals who have purchased one of our Kitechild bracelets, which has in turn provided greater educational opportunity for an orphaned child. Whether funds are used to buy school uniforms, textbooks, or enrollment fees, each purchase assures that a child will have the essential tools needed to succeed academically.
This week’s Stylish Supporter is Denise Echeverria, from Los Angeles, CA!
We love Ms. Echeverria’s simple style with the bright red bracelet, supporting orphans in Latin America.
Many thanks to our Stylish Supporter of the week! Would you like to be featured on the blog? Send us a snapshot of you rocking your bracelet!
Remember, you can purchase bracelets here: http://www.kitechild.org/shop/
When I signed up to volunteer at an orphanage in Africa, I pictured myself somewhere in the Serengeti, dressed in Banana Republic. I had always wanted to be one of those people concerned with world affairs and after declaring anthropology as my major, I opted to add some humanitarian travels to my resume. Arriving in the slums of Nairobi, the summer after my first year in college, I was utterly unprepared to be standing face-to-face with absolute, abject poverty: over 300 children squeezed into a crumbling building; hungry bodies sleeping on a cement floor in urine-soaked clothes. I had hoped to be changed by encounters with poverty. I wanted the profound. I wanted to be the girl at a dinner party who the hostess points to and says: “and she worked in Africa.”
Don’t be embarrassed for me. My heart was good. And therein lies the essence of voluntourism: this trip was about me, my desire for a life-changing experience, my heart (and ego). I spent that summer volunteering with orphaned children, and while they seemed to like me, I could not help but wonder if I had helped at all.
I sought advice from my esteemed professor (whom I wanted desperately to impress). I was nervous but expectant imagining what she would say when I told her I had spent my summer in Kenya (by this point I had stopped calling Kenya “Africa”). Would she invite me out for lunch to hear about my journey? Would she ask me to co-author her next book? I sat in the chair opposite her desk and braced myself for her total admiration. “That sounds like a very meaningful summer.” My pride quickly turned to shame as she inquired, “Your life has changed, but what has changed in the children’s lives, as a result of your trip?” While at the time I failed to grasp the implications of her questions, I suspected we weren’t going to be trading diet tips over lattes anytime soon.
I spent a lot of time that year wondering if I had unintentionally exploited the children I’d traveled so far to meet. Did I help the little ones learn the days of the week and the older kids practice their written composition? Yes. Had my trip contributed in any significant way to a more just, safe life for them? No. I was a 19-year-old, providing unskilled labor, to deeply traumatized children, for a very short of amount of time. The price of my plane ticket would have been better spent on the salary of Kenyan teacher, a source of continuity for children who deserve it the most.
I know what you are thinking: whether or not your niece spends her summer at an orphanage in Kenya has nothing to do with Kenya’s unemployment rate. Why not encourage young people to volunteer in poor countries and learn about the world; it’s better than having them spend their Spring Break playing beer pong in Miami. Agreed, but we have to stop making this about your niece, and start making it about vulnerable children who did not sign on to be the playmates of volunteers, too many of whom fail to align their objectives with the real needs of the poor.
Besides, what if the desire to travel to needy orphanages and the conditions of needy orphanages are related — in a supply and demand sense — more than we realize? Before volunteering in a developing country it’s important to consider the effect the trip will or will not have on the long-term injustices facing orphaned children. Will you be volunteering within a structure addressing these issues in a sustainable way, in solidarity with local leadership, or will you be extending your safari for personal gain?
At Flying Kites, the Children’s Home in Kenya to which I have dedicated my career, we have replaced a volunteer program with an ambassador program. The program includes an intensive application process and requires months of fundraising prior to traveling, to ensure that the people who join us in Kenya are committed to the cause, and not simply the experience. For these reasons, we now attract a lifeline of supporters who recognize that the most valuable gifts they can bring to organizations like ours are in the time spent advocating and fundraising; meeting the children is a small part of a much greater commitment towards addressing the real needs of orphaned children. Still, people argue that the standards for this program are too demanding. I tend to agree, but I have learned that, at the intersection of the well-intentioned and the downright poor, the stakes are always higher.
Click here to see Leila’s Huffington Post blog entry!
A few months ago, we started promoting the piglet farm at A Better World Children’s Home in Cameroon. As part of our sustainable projects program, we worked together with the directors of the orphanage and came up with an idea that would not only generate income for the home, but also be a fun activity for the kids.
The home was able to start the farm with a few piglets thanks to your generosity. The kids LOVE the piglets and are excited to care for them. In a couple months, breeding will commence for more piglets, which can be sold at the market for substantial revenue for the home. The directors intend to use the income generated to improve conditions within the home, for example, by increasing the amount of food children eat per day, or buying the appropriate medication to treat illness.
Thanks to donors like you we were able to kick start the project and purchase the initial set of piglets. The project is still up on our home page because it is not completely funded. Check back on the project page for updates on the project development, and to see the effect your piglet purchase has had on the orphans in Cameroon!
Who would have guessed that cute little piglets would bring so much joy and opportunity to these orphans?
Kitechild is very excited to announce the launch of our newest micro-project! Our goal is to build a collective chicken coop for three orphanage homes in Kenya. The coop will give the homes access to their own sustainable food source in a region where food insecurity issues have caused food prices to triple. Eggs will become a regular part of the children’s diet, which currently consists of just two starchy meals per day. Additionally, homes will be able to sell eggs at the market as a source of income. As food expenditures decrease and homes begin to earn income, they will be able to reallocate funds towards better nutrition, healthcare, and educational access for the children.
At Kitechild we seek to aid orphanages on the path to financial self-sufficiency. Homes tend to be very dependent on outside donations that may vary month to month. A stable source of food and income will bring three Kenyan orphanages that much closer to being financially independent and better able to support the healthy development of their children.
We launched our fundraising campaign this week, and have only 28 days to achieve our goal! We want to thank you, our network of followers, fans, volunteers, and donors for being the catalyst to our campaign launch!
Check back weekly for updates on this project, events, and new projects to come.