A Maple Ridge grandmother wants help retrofitting a shelled out room for babies and preschoolers in a Kenyan orphanage.
Julie Meadows is holding a dessert fundraiser Friday, Oct. 4 at the Burnett Baptist church, which is aimed at raising upwards of $7,500 needed to renovate a room in the Mogra Rescue Centre, which takes in children – mainly from Mathare, one of the pooerest slums in Nairobi.
The fundraising event, which begins at 7 p.m., will feature a dessert and silent auctions, as well as Kenyan music in the church gym, said Meadows, who explained how she first learned of Mogra – first hand – this past spring.
But to explain this year’s experience, she first had to go back in time some 15 years.
It actually started when her daughter Naomi was 12. Their family spent Christmas providing staff relief for house parents at a Mexican orphanage, and Naomi announced at the time that she would build her family through international adoption.
“Years later, having spent three years clearing the paperwork hoops for international adoption, Naomi and her husband, Sean Owen, were off to Nairobi, Kenya [earlier this year] to meet their two daughters – Faith, six, and her younger sister, Millicent, four,” Meadows explained.
The Kenyan adoption process required the couple to live in Nairobi as foster parents for their two girls for nine months.
During their stay, the Mission couple volunteered at two orphanages.
“When I went to visit, I visited both these orphanages with them,” Meadows said. “The one with the greatest needs, who impacted the most children, was Mogra Rescue Centre.”
One day, Meadows spent part of the day visiting several families and was so moved by the experience that months after returning home, she’s still trying to help make a difference.
“Raw sewage and pigs occupied the streets. There was one toilet for every thousand people. The single room, dirty floor houses had neither water nor power,” she said, recounting some of what she saw during her April visit.
“Many children as young as even five years are left in charge of younger siblings while their surviving parent tries to eke out a meager living doing whatever work they can find,” Meadows recalled.
“On one occasion, I sat down on the floor with a circle of five little ones and a baby on my knee,” she said. “The kids were so happy to simply have someone help them throw a ball around.”
The only educational opportunities for these kids was the school being run by Mogra – which provides the kids one meal per day.
“There were about 950 kids in the school when I was there,” she said. “Unfortunately, the legacy that was paying the teachers and buying the school meal has all been used up and those children now have no access to education.”
There are about 120 children, under the age of 19, who live at the orphanage, which Meadows described as a solid brick building.
Each of the two dorm rooms house about 40 girls or boys six years or older, with a separate baby area for children six years or younger.
“It was the size of a small two-bedroom apartment, and in it lived 30 children under six and five caregivers,” Meadows explained. “Each caregiver shared a bed with up to four children.”
The second bedroom housed the babies, each crib holding four to five babies.
“The babies could not get out of their crib except for feeding and changing because of the high chance of being stepped on by the toddlers,” she explained.
There was no bathtub.
All laundry was done by hand by caregivers, and a major expense was disposable diapers for the babies, since handwashing diapers for that many babies was not feasible.
To help out on this front, Meadows immediately went to work. She bought them a washing machine, and sent a challenge back to her friends and family at home to help out, too.
“Mongra wound up with three washing machines,” including one washer – as well as a fridge and stove – bought by her fellow congregation members at Burnett Baptist Fellowship.
But the giving can’t end there, said Meadows.
Now, it’s her goal is to help fund the restoration of the second room, to allow for the small children group to be split between babies and preschool/toddlers. It’s Meadows goal is to provide enough money to complete that second room.
“If you would like a delicious evening of fabulous desserts and great music, that will help these kids, please join us,” she said, noting “known” African American singer Crystal Hicks will be performing.
There are no tickets being sold for the fundraiser, but guests are asked to make a minimum donation of $10 to the cause.
Contributions to the silent auction, as well as dessert items such as pies and cakes, are still being accepted. Donors can leave a message at the church, 604-465-4418 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
@ Copyright 2013