Raising Money For Kenyan Friends

LA MESA -- Last night, a fantastic troop of La Mesa fifth grade girls from Rolando Elementary raised money to bring water to a school in Kenya. The Kenyan school, Peter Kariuki Primary School, also has a scout troop. But their scouts live very different lives than our scouts.

I visited Peter Kariuki Primary in February of this year. About 70 percent of the children in the area near the Kenyan school are malnourished, and many school kids eat just one meal a day. The school wishes they could provide lunch, but they cannot afford it. The school is located in Thika, a city in Central Kenya with a high rate of HIV/AIDS, so many children are orphans as a result. Some live in child-headed households and some must earn money by working in a quarry after school. Many do not even have shoes. The nearest source of water is 3 miles away.

Four La Mesa Girl Scouts earned their Bronze Awards by learning about the lives of their Kenyan counterparts - even trying their hands at carrying buckets of water on their heads. Then, last night, the kids joined me in raising money and awareness for the kids in Kenya. Our goal was raising $3000 to buy rainwater harvesting equipment so the children will no longer need to walk 3 mi to fetch water. We raised $431.

The event was held at La Mesa First United Methodist Church, which generously rented out their social hall and kitchen. Patrick Dean, father of one of the Girl Scouts and former candidate for La Mesa City Council, cooked a meal of Kenyan food using local, organic ingredients. Much of the food was donated from local farms, including Suzie's, Womach Ranch, Sage Mountain, and Dutch Farmers. People's Food Co-op in Ocean Beach, Divine Madman Coffee, and Tropical Heritage also donated food and Silent Auction items to the event.

The Girl Scouts displayed posters they made for their Bronze Awards, showing different aspects of life in Kenya - photos of the school they are helping, different ways people in Kenya get water, a description of a slum in Nairobi, photos of a farmers market in Kenya, and more. There was also a Silent Auction in which attendees could bid on handmade crafts from Kenya as well as a few other donated items.

The children of Peter Kariuki Primary in Kenya are heroes to me because they persist in their education even with empty bellies, long walks, and difficult physical labor. But the kids of La Mesa and the excellent parent who raised them to be such conscious young ladies are heroes as well for their hard work to help out fellow Scouts who live halfway around the world in such different circumstances. In addition to raising money, the event last night also raised awareness about poverty in Kenya and its causes and solutions.

Special thanks to Scout leader Carly Garrett and Chefs Patrick Dean, Jenny Goff, and Dana Palermo.

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Tags: Kenya, La Mesa Girls Scouts, La Mesa Today, La Mesa newapper, La Mesa news, La Mesa philanthropy

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Comment by David Stanley on November 14, 2012 at 11:52am

Response to two commenters: Jill, its apparent you have been subjected to the propaganda of the far left who blames and despises this country for any and everything. And buying the food from their farmers, we cant eat their food because of disease and parasites so why would we want to? Try reading about the airlift to Berlin following the war. Try reading about the aid to Bangladesh, Ruwanda, practically all of Africa from time to time. Who pays for that? Why we do, you and me. That some, and very little I might add, political gain is received is a by-product is hopefully positive for our efforts. Most times the aid we provide, particularly in Africa, is merely seized by the dictators and sold for their own profits. All this whilst those who need it continue in their conditions. And, as for foreign governments "offering aid all the time", see any French, African, Japanese, Chinese, Taiwanese, Korean, British, Australian or any other cargo ships, volunteers, rescue and emergency equipment flooding into New Jersey or New York. Did you see any Haitian volunteers re-building New Orleans? Easy to criticize but you cannot offer anything beyound "Oh Yeah" when it comes right down to it!

Comment by Gobigal on November 12, 2012 at 4:49pm

Foreign governments offer the US assistance all the time. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_response_to_Hurricane_Ka...

Comment by Jill Richardson on November 12, 2012 at 11:52am

David, First off - nearly every developed country provides foreign aid and many do so in a way that is more useful than what the U.S. does. U.S. aid is actually strategic and intended to help the U.S. - not the recipients of the aid. We buy American food from American farmers - surplus food, actually - and then ship it by American shipping companies to the countries that receive it. Those countries would be helped far more if we bought the food from their own farmers, and in fact, often our food aid harms their farmers and their economies since we dump free food on their market and their farmers cannot compete. The remainder of our aid is designed to meet our aims, not theirs, and it's often conditional - i.e. we'll give a town in Bolivia a coffee processing plant but only if they stop growing coca.

Comment by chris shea on November 12, 2012 at 11:46am

Congratulations to everyone involved in this endeavor.  It is noble and kind.  Clean water to drink. Something most of us take for granted.  My prayer is that the girls will continue throughout their lives to find a need and fill it, no matter where the need exists. Clearly this is a perfect beginning step.  Many candles can be lit by the flame of one single candle without diminishing that flame.   Love is like that: unable to be diminished by sharing it.   I hope the girls will never allow their enthusiasm to be diminished by unwarranted criticism no matter the source.

I say kudos!

Comment by David Stanley on November 12, 2012 at 9:02am

Oh, and by the way, when was the last time you saw the news reports about aid and relief for Americans from ANY OTHER COUNTRY or citizens? Planes and ships rushing to help, financial assistance, National leaders calling to ask what they can do? I have been waiting for that for many years but I havent seen it, have you? But I do see constant television begging sessions describing those you speak of in Africa and to "help the children".

Comment by David Stanley on November 12, 2012 at 8:58am

Jill, you have gone on and on about "helping the poor" and the efforts in that vein are applauded, However, whilst you yourself happened to apparently tour African villages and saw their plight and felt the need to provide, we have our own HERE in America who need to be provided for as well. You will note that, one:  governments in Africa care little or nothing about their own citizens and spend most of their time stealing and murdering to amass gigantic personal fortunes, thus leaving the "care" to others whilst they grin and skim profits from donations. And two:  The people of whom you speak have lived and endured for hundreds of generations. Ever asked yourself why do they remain there and why dont they make some effort to improve and provide for themselves? I have. I dont speak about the people in this country who sit about with hands out demanding everything and doing nothing. The ones you saw in New Orleans who were and continue to sit about and do nothing but beg and complain. I mean our own citizens who do attempt to correct their environment yet still need. That you activated the girl scouts to "help" is outstanding but you did not answer my question:
Why Africans when Americans need help?

Comment by Jill Richardson on November 11, 2012 at 3:32pm

Also - I should add that this event DID benefit those at home too. The girls got an incredible education about life in Sub-Saharan Africa, and those who came to the event learned too. We purchased all of the food for the event locally and held it at a local church, and while a lot of the food was donated, we paid for what we could not get for free, and we paid the church to use their facility, so there was a local benefit as well. Hopefully the benefits locally will extend beyond that if the people who attended liked the food they ate and decide to head over to the La Mesa Farmers' Market to buy from those same vendors in the future.

Comment by Jill Richardson on November 11, 2012 at 3:30pm

There's no shortage of causes to help, for sure. There are millions who need help here at home, it's true. But this was a case where I witnessed suffering so much more severe than anything I'd ever seen in the U.S. and could not walk away and do nothing. Hopefully it's not an either/or - we can help people in the U.S. and abroad at the same time.

Comment by Gobigal on November 11, 2012 at 1:48pm

Thanks for your comments David- I am not sure what is political about helping the poor - in this case the school in question are boy and girl scouts of the same age as our girls and the La Mesa scouts wanted to help them so they would not have miss as many hours of school carrying water.  They have been planning since June- far in advance of Hurricane Sandy.  Rest assured the troop is not pursuing any kind of political agenda- we have done many projects in La Mesa as well- and the families of our girls run the political spectrum from Tea Party to Democrats.  I hope you take your passion for doing the right thing and expend it as a volunteer to youth in La Mesa too.

Comment by David Stanley on November 11, 2012 at 8:09am

Why are we expending energy to "help" people in Africa when we have our own citizens, right here in our own country suffering from lack of water, food, heat, electricity and everything else because of the massive storm? Seems pretty politically misplaced to me.

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