Located in the town of Githongo in the tea and coffee region of Kenya; a few miles north of the Equator on the northeast slopes of Mt. Kenya, Rays of Hope (ROH) is a small community health clinic. With full time work by Murithi Marangu, its founder, and a part time staff of a nurse, laboratory technician and community facilitator, the dedicated team provide laboratory services for malaria and typhoid, the dispersement of medicines and drugs, counseling for HIV/AIDS, testing and post test counseling, and home health care. They also provide maternal, prenatal and child healthcare, as well as Community Education classes. House calls are made for those in the community unable to travel to the clinic. All of these services are provided at no cost or for a minimal fee.
During a visit in 2012, the Gnu Foundation team discussed different ways that we could assist the clinic's staff and programs, and we determined that providing a "Social Business Grant” was the most supportive and sustainable option. With the Gnu grant, ROH has built the "Moonlight Cafe" a 'milk bar' (serving local foods and non-alcoholic drink) which is staffed by clinic volunteers and the food and produce is purchased locally — creating a 'virtuous circle’ of employment and supply-chain puirchases from ROH affiliated staff and businesses. A 'social business' is fully consistent with the operations and strategy as that of a traditional 'for-profit' business, but all the profits are poured back into the host business to support its social nature and the metrics by which one measures the success of the business are related to a social goal — in this specific case the underwriting and support of the Rays of Hope health clinic.
We are excited by this co-operative venture with Rays of Hope and look to the expansion of other supportive businesses in the community.
A devastating fire recently leveled the primary school at the Furaha Community Center. Undaunted, the local Huruma community raised funds to rebuild, and construction has already begun! The photo below shows the "Heart of Furaha" the primary school children gathered in the school courtyard during our recent Gnu Foundation visit (pre fire) and the progress made to re-opening the school. The Gnu Foundation has recently funded a doubling of the Gnu microloan program support to the parents and guardians of the Furaha children and the workers who care and support them.
Below: The Gnu Foundation team visits with the staff and leaders of Furaha Community Foundation
in Huruma (Nairobi), Kenya
The Gnu Foundation is looking to support the work of Esperanza para Guatemala (Hope for Guatemala) a program dedicated to helping children and families living in Guatemala City’s notorious Zone 18 to break their cycle of violence, poor education and poverty by empowering them to achieve the quality of life that they deserve. www.hopeforguatemala.org
The program was developed under the direction of Jose Armas, who grew up in Guatemala City watching his parents give food and other assistance to families in need. Even as a child, Jose felt burdened to help people less fortunate. At the age of 14, Jose began to travel extensively as a missionary, at the age of 23, Jose felt called to leave his comfortable business life in the United States and minister to his own people in Zone 18 of Guatemala City. The ministry started with Jose and his family serving about 25 children a snack 3 days a week. Using borrowed pots and pans from his parents and holding on to the vision placed in his heart for many years before, Jose launched Esperanza para Guatemala in 2004.
Today, Hope for Guatemala directly serves over 250 children who represent about 120 families, positively impacting the lives of more than 1000 people. The program offers a hot breakfast and lunch program 5 days a week and provides fresh produce to the childrens’ homes for the weekends. Additionally an education program provides access to books, study support, computers, tutoring, and school supplies; there is a health, hygiene and basic medical program; vocational workshops and training in carpentry, computers, bakery and crafts and a spiritual and cultural program designed to build hope and self esteem for the youth.
Gnu Foundation is looking to provide funding for creative social business grants to support local vocational and business initiatives for the young adults and families associated with the program.
Zone 18 Guatemala City, Guatemala
In this video message, Madam Elizabeth from Watoto Wenya Nguvu (Children of Strength) thanks a Gnu Foundation champion for funding the orphanages' biogas project. The bio waste from the orphanages' 10 cows is used to power the fuel needs of the entire WWN campus.
We just returned from Haiti — what an amazing country — so much hope within such an austere and unforgiving environment. We were there to initiate the expansion of the Gnu Foundation’s micro-credit program into the reaches of the Central Plateau region of rural Haiti through our existing global partnership with “When I Grow Up” — a group of people dedicated to empowering children in extreme poverty. A description of this initiative can be found at: haiti beginnings.
The reality of extreme poverty and lack of resources is overwhelming throughout all of Haiti — from the still quake ravaged capital city of Port au Prince to the subsistence agriculture villages of the Central Plateau where adequate water, sanitation, health care, education and a market economy are far from the norm.
However, the strength, energy and will of local families and leadership of our local Gnu partners to overcome these limits is adding a new sense of hope and optimism that is working its way into the fabric of a rebuilding Haiti. The bright and excited faces of children receiving a warm meal each day; access to working capital for women to start or grow a small business; and orphans having the joy of community through a school where none existed before are all part of Haiti’s new reality. Many thousands of people and hundreds of organizations are working diligently to bring about this new hope – it was empowering to me to have the chance to meet the leadership of a number of these organizations during my recent visit who generously shared of their time and experience as we connect in Haiti.
I am truly excited and humbled by the task before us as we begin and continue this good work. Your continued partnership in supporting our efforts is, as always, greatly appreciated. Your willingness to sharing our story with others who could partner in this effort by sharing your own access to resources – your money – your connections – your ideas and kind thoughts and prayers — all are needed, and the time is now.
Dr. Charles Sempere, father of Gnu Foundation founder James Sempere, passed away in January, 2012. Memorial gifts made to the Gnu Foundation in his honor have been placed in a new dedicated special fund to purchase medicines and benefit the work of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Hospital (IHM) in Kilimambogo, Kenya.
IHM, an small independent community hospital located in rural Kenya also runs and supports the Community of Hope — an on-site children’s home for young orphans impacted by AIDS. The hospital was greatly affected by last year’s drought in Kenya and patients were coming and they could not raise hospital bills or cover the cost of required medicines. The financial stress to the hospital in providing free care was significant, and in the words of the hospital leadership “This new memorial fund will go a long way in bringing the hospital to its feet again”.
When Dr. Sempere, an obstetrician, finally retired after building a successful private practice while serving on the active staffs of two local hospitals in various positions including: Chief of Staff, Medical Director, and Chairman of the OB-GYN Department — he was beginning to deliver a third generation of babies.
If you would like to learn more about the dedicated work of the IHM hospital and the service they provide vulnerable children and a challenged rural community or wish to make a donation to the Dr. Charles Sempere memorial fund, please contact James Sempere directly @ email@example.com.
Working with groups of youths, artist Chloe Sempere inspired creative art projects throughout Kenya as part of her fellowship with the Gnu Foundation. Art ‘events’ were held with children in the slums of Nairobi, secondary school children in the rural village of Kilimambogo and with the orphan children at Kusitawi Village in central Kenya.
For many of the youth it was their first time expressing themselves in a free form artistic manner and was an inspiration to the local teachers as well. The youth, teachers and staff were all inspired and creative, with legacy art programs and school art ‘clubs’ now established to follow the one day events.
In the slums of Haruma (Nairobi), Gnu Foundation microloan partner Furaha Community Center invited their school children to participate in an ‘art event’. Using brushes, pencils, sticks, hands, fingers, grasses and other creative tools the students painted a mural embracing their sense of community and family.
At Magogoni Secondary School over 50 students interested in art participated at the all day art program event — several large scale murals representing their vision of community were created and a lively spontaneous art gallery ensued showcasing individual paintings made on newspaper ‘canvases’.
At Kusitawi Village – the home base for the Children of Strength orphanage program (http://www.kilimambogo.org) that supports over 450 children, of whom 75 live at the central village ‘campus’ in safe houses. The art project ‘attached’ itself to the walls (and beyond) of the girls safe house with a passion. When Executive Director Elizabeth gitau saw the works for the first time she exclaimed “Imagine! Now it looks as if children live here – how beautiful!
These art programs are another varied example of how the Gnu Foundation fills its core mission of “connecting people to resources” – in this case a recent art school graduate using her talents and connecting one-on-one and ‘hands on’ to inspire self expression and potential in youth a world away. The venues for the program were associated with local Kenya-based Gnu Foundation microloan program partners.
During a recent visit to the rural Kenyan village of Donyo Sabuk a Gnu Foundation team participated in an open house event with its newest partner Donyo Integrated Sports Centre (DISC). This center was established to provide opportunities for local youth through sporting activities and career vocational training. The program, originally centered around boxing and physical training programs for boys and young men, has been expanded to include remedial educational and micro-enterprise programs for both young men and women.
The DISC Ladies Alive program is a livelihood program born out of concern related to emerging teenage pregnancy and early ‘marriages’ that usually don’t work making the girls in Donyo both socially and economically vulnerable. The program is intended to build on the existing micro-finance, and micro–agriculture that exist in this community – providing economic opportunities for the guardians of youth enrolled in the DISC programs and for the older youth themselves. Gnu Foundation is very proud to support the full programs of DISC and the change they are making in their local community.
Camp Michigamme — a Methodist Church camp in the upper pennisula of Michigan since 1922, has programs for all ages.
Each week the Camp selects an organization to raise money for — this years elementary school camp raised $140.00 in funds for the Gnu Foundation through their traditional “Me Too” collection. While at camp, campers enjoy swimming, hiking, worship & fellowship, campfires and craft time, among other activities as well as reconnecting with old friends and meeting new friends.
THANK YOU CAMPERS !!!!!
Gnu Foundation and Watoto Wenya Nguvu (Children of Strength) signed the Gnu Mircrocredit program agreement today. The capital provided to WWN will support microloans to several borrowing groups, the first two which include a group of 5 sho sho’s (grandmothers) who care for a number of orphans. They intend to expand their existing market-based businesses. Additionally 5 innovative young orphans will begin their business careers using microloans to support a number of activities, including a cobbler business, hairdressing, welding, tailoring and carpentry.