“One does not regret having helped another” Kenyan Proverb I was told a story once that has stuck with me ever since.... One day a man is walking by a river and sees a group of people working tirelessly to remove dead bodies, one after the other, they just keep coming. The people work there day after day removing body after body. So this man asks, “where are these bodies coming from?” Everyone was so busy trying to fix the immediate problem they did not go upriver to find the source of it. The reason this story was told to me when I started Restore Humanity was to remind me that while we want to help to solve day-to-day problems we should also find out why these problems exist in the first place so that if possible we can prevent them in the future. This concept is the basis of our Outreach Program in Sirembe, Kenya—providing immediate care AND prevention.
For the last two years we have been taking care of our children at the orphanage and with each step that we have taken we try to learn from our mistakes and successes. We have tried our best to be patient, just observe, and listen to our children, our staff and the rest of the community. As we saw progress in our children we started thinking... Yes we are truly helping our 16 kids at the orphanage, but how can we have more of an impact? How do we make their community better? We want every child to have the same kind of care and opportunities as our kids. While we know that isn’t possible, we can surely improve the lives of people in Sirembe in a lasting and sustainable way. We came up with a few ideas and one of those is to expand our outreach.
We have been doing Outreach in this community since before the orphanage building was even finished, but this year we took it to a new level. We started in 2008, by paying some school fees for a boy named Vincent so that he could attend Secondary School and continue his education. He is a senior this year (still in our Outreach) and excelling each term, we are very, very proud. He pulled me aside last year and told me that God sent me to him and he thanks God for me everyday. He told me without our help he would have never gone to Secondary School. I was so honored, humbled, and grateful for this opportunity—I was not sure how to respond. I just hugged him, told him that I loved him and to keep working hard. He promised that he would. Each year we have added children to our educational Outreach Program. We are currently helping 20 children with school fees and/or uniforms, books, etc. This year, at the request of the Secondary School girls, we started providing maxi pads monthly for 150+ girls. We also have 30 students in our free morning Daycare program 5 days a week, where little ones are cared for and taught the basics. Another expansion of our educational outreach was to reach out to the Headmasters of both the Primary and Secondary schools in our area. They work so hard every day to make the schools better for the children and their staff--we just try to pitch in when we can. One thing we were able to do this year was to cement the 3 remaining dirt floors in the Primary School. The funding for the first floor came from Fayetteville High School Seniors (2012). They raised the money here in NWA to help their Kenyan peers (Our Global Ambassador Program). It was pretty awesome! We were so inspired by the FHS kids, we had to cement the other two!
This year we also began implementing a program called Comprehensive Outreach wherein we help parents/guardians within the village to provide the comprehensive care for their little ones. We realized that every child needs food, healthcare, shelter, education, and love. So where the guardians cannot provide, we try to make up the difference—working together to provide a better life for more children in need. As we are assisting with immediate needs, we are helping to better educate guardians (on issues like fire safety, hygiene practices, or disease control) to hopefully prevent some problems in the future and build a stronger community. Many aspects of our program that I have listed provide immediate care and work to prevent similar problems in the future simultaneously. This, of course, is not as simple as it sounds. It is definitely a journey and we are learning as we go. We recognize that there are broader needs of the community, and individual needs that will vary. So we will keep working with our partners in Sirembe, have fluidity in our approach, and strive make the quality of life better for all who live there.
Restore Humanity’s Mission Statement:We restore humanity by taking the opportunity to help whenever, wherever, and however we can – not dictating the terms of our assistance, but responding to the needs of the individuals and communities we are serving.