What is your fondest memory from your time volunteering abroad with IVHQ?
It’s really difficult to narrow it down to just one since there were so many to choose from, but taking the children from the orphanage to play sports at the main city field was the standout memory for me.
The younger kids were rarely able to leave the orphanage because of its location and their required daily chores, (washing church floors, clothes, etc...) but when they did you could tell how much fun they were having. I could feel that I was making a difference.
Why should you be the IVHQ Volunteer of the Year?
I am fortunate enough to be nominated for the award, which is humbling but I think my continued dedication to the Grace Care Orphanage, six months after I’ve left, makes me a worthwhile candidate for the award.
While in Kenya, myself along with 15 other volunteers lived with 2 pastors, George and Regina Ngige, who were also the directors of the orphanage and school. They dedicate their lives to keeping the children safe, happy, and healthy. Both would work up to 18 hours a day and I’d never seen two people work so hard in my entire life. My charity initiative is a testament to them and all of their hard work.
One day I filmed a baseball sports video at the city park with the children for fun. The next day I uploaded it to YouTube, and the next day it had over 200,000 views and the children became overnight international celebrities. Everyone wanted know more about these kids!
So in response to the first video’s success, we filmed a second one – but this one was not only for fun, it was for charity. We would produce another video in the hopes of raising funds for the school. We included all of the children from the orphanage and made a basketball video. The hope behind this video was to raise enough funds for the orphanage to purchase a field nearby where they could safely play.
This is the stunning power of this project: The kids own it, the effort was theirs and the orphanage is simultaneously empowered. Currently, they have no access to sports and play a game in the small confines of the orphanage called bounce. Bounce is a game that combines rock kicking and hopscotch. Now, they can try to improve on that with a little help from myself and the social media platform.
MAKING IT WORK
Once I returned home to Canada I partnered with the Canadian charity “Lift The Children” in order to begin the fundraising campaign for the Grace Care Orphanage. Lift The Children is a humanitarian organization that saves abandoned children, and places them in caring environments. We launched the second video in November and have raised over $24,000 (as of 28 February) for the orphanage.
It took me 3 months, over 200 emails, and about 500 phone calls to find a suitable charity with whom to partner. My dedication to this project has not wavered since I left Kenya, and won't until we hit our goal.
What benefits will the award money have for your designated project?
Any money received will go directly to the Grace Care Orphanage "If You Build It, We Will Play" project. Track the progress right here.
What is your long-term vision for this project?
- I am hoping that once we hit our target goal I can head back to the Grace Care Orphanage and make more sports re-enactment videos with the children on their new field. We would use the future videos as a fundraising technique for Lift The Children, and raise funds for other orphanages in Africa that need help. We have done something unique. It is the children's brand in a way.
- The vision includes touching the hearts of all those who watch the delightful videos, while simultaneously raising awareness of the ongoing plight of children orphaned by the scourge of AIDS in Africa.
IVHQ Program: Peru - Lima
IVHQ Program: Kenya