NBC 4 has released a fourth video featuring our work! View their previous coverage of us.
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NBC4 has run a great news story about the Marafiki Kenyan Orphan project. Check out the NBC4 story! There’s a full text article at the link, as well as videos!
“When Rafiki was started in 1998, that is when the HIV and AIDS epidemic was very, very heavy and felt in our country and there were no people who wanted to be associated with HIV and AIDS,” says Amos Kanja, Rafiki’s Project Manager. Thanks to help from Central Ohio, many of these children now have a brighter future.
As Matt and Rachel Mazur stepped off the bus, thousands of miles from their home in Columbus, it felt like a homecoming.
“Honestly, when we all got here yesterday, we were fighting back the tears,” Matt says of seeing the Rafiki campus for the first time in seven years.
On their last visit, the Mazurs wielded machetes to help clear the land. Today, there are buildings with running water, a fully-functioning farm and a primary school full of children.
Perhaps the most ambitious of all of our projects at this point is to bring education of our kids in- house. The establishment of Rafiki Academy is the embodiment of that dream. Our own school, our own Principal and teachers, classes of 25 students rather than 50 or 60, will greatly benefit our kids. But they won’t be isolated. Fully 2/3rds of the students will be from the community (and be paying us school fees they would pay to the government) so that we will be fostering good relations with the community.
Four extra rooms in the Newark Rotary Technical School are being refurbished to accommodate three of the early classes (up to Form I). A generous grant from Rotary Clubs and District 6690 in central Ohio, areproviding the funds for equipment and supplies in the classrooms, including computers. Bryan Beske is pivotal in our long term efforts to develop an endowment fund to finance the school in perpetuity. All the physical equipment in the classrooms (excluding computer and electronic equipment) is made on site by Rafiki’s carpenters, welders, and others.
In the meantime, our biggest single budget item is school fees for all of our kids, which will continue for the many years it will take us to ramp up Rafiki Academy. Generous support from the Mission Council of First Community Church is helping us with that all important aspect of our mission.
One measure of a really successful and sustainable project is the level of local community support. There was no doubt about that support as we witnessed when the Walkathon took place on Saturday morning. A march from the Wida motel, through the town of Nderi, to the Rafiki campus was a magnificent event. Led by the Salvation Army band, and preceded by warm ups for the crowd by a local fitness guru, the march ended with a Harambe which raised over $10,000 for Rafiki. The Nairobi North Rotary Club, our steadfast supporters in this effort, and President Evans was present and leading on Saturday as he was on Friday.
Last August we reported the initiation of the Galantowicz Family Fish Farm, into which had just been placed 1000 tiny Tilapia minnows. They have spent the year feeding on the natural algae in the pond as well as some home grown fish food that is nutrient rich from a combination of commercial feed and local Rafiki nutrients. And look at them now! They are ready for harvest and ready for sale. Hopefully this can become a new source of income for the Ministry.
Members of the August travel group were treated to some great culinary treats. Agnes Nyakio, a Rafiki Catering student, working with Geoffrey, who is interested in becoming a chef, transformed quality ingredients into a true gourmet meal. Serving was perfect and rivaled the Carnivore for elegance.
We continue to find our way forward at the Clinic which is turning out to be a major source of support for the community at large. Our Rafiki kids are really quite healthy and normally don’t require much in the way of medical attention. But the presence of our Clinic in the community with its very well equipped laboratory, a reasonably well stocked pharmacy, attended five days a week by a nurse and a laboratory technician, is a great community resource. The nominal fee of $1 per adult and $0.50 per child has been sufficient, in addition to contributions from donors, to keep it running.
This represents a true “ripple effect” where support of the Rafiki orphanage actually supports the surrounding community in a very tangible way. Having the medications available to dispense at the visit makes it much more likely they will actually get to the patients as intended.
In March 2012, a group of Rotarians from the Capitol Square Rotary Club in Columbus and musicians from Columbus, OH, organized by Kirk Horn, and headlining Jesse Henry and Eric Nassau, made the trek to Rafiki to share the gift of music. Bringing with them the proceeds from the wildly successful “Music in the Round” fundraiser for Rafiki in Columbus, the group arrived at Rafiki ready to get to work.
They spent time with the kids on the Rafiki campus, writing songs with them, and rehearsing with the Upendo Choir from Tanzania. It all came together with a collaborative performance at Rafiki on Saturday, March 10, 2012 and at the Wida Motel auditorium the next day. Both performances were to “packed houses” and could not have been more fun for the performers and the audiences, as well. Dancing and clapping were the norm.
All proceeds from the performances benefited the future John & Joyce Edmondson School of Music at Rafiki. A Department of Music at Rafiki Academy has been started, providing for a teacher as well as various musical instruments.
Here are some scenes from the Saturday show at Rafiki.
At the Wida Motel the next day many local musicians from the area, organized by Peris Ndungu, joined the Upendo choir, the Rafiki kids, Eric Nassau and Jessie Henry from Columbus. Together they rocked the house!
But it wasn’t all rehearsal and performance. There was plenty of time to hang out and get to know the wonderful Rafiki kids. A bonfire on Friday night was used to show the kids how to roast marshmallows.
When we visited in February 2011, a brand new greenhouse had been erected just north of the clinic. While empty at the time, this holds great promise for Rafiki, since crops can be planted and controlled regarding moisture, temperature, and protected from pests that attack our crops. Tomatoes are a popular crop to grow in these conditions, but many more can be grown. When we toured the greenhouse in August it was clear that, after only eight weeks, the plants are thriving. While we are at the mercy of market prices for any vegetables we grow, it looks like this technology holds promise.