by Tyler Orton, Contributor
An orphanage nestled in the mountains of Kenya is getting some desperately needed support from Abbotsford residents.
The proceeds from a family walk and run event Saturday, May 5 at Clearbrook Park will go towards sending a shipping container of supplies to the Neema orphanage and school in Africa.
“Most people when they picture Kenya, they think of the desert and everything like that, but the orphanage is actually 8,000 feet above sea level,” Aid for Neema organizer Lori McBlain says, adding the remote location means children require blankets, shoes and warm clothes.
Last fall, McBlain’s foster mother Sally Gosse and foster aunt Suzie Shaw volunteered at Neema for about a month. Afterwards, the B.C. sisters came away from the experience determined to do even more to help.
Although Gosse and Shaw live in Kamloops and Hope, respectively, McBlain says hosting the event in her home of Abbotsford makes it easy to attract people to a central location.
So far, the women have been able to raise enough money to pay for the $20,000 shipping crate. The one-kilometre walk and five-kilometre run aim at securing more dollars and donations to fill the container with supplies.
“The outpouring of donations has been amazing, absolutely amazing,” McBlain says, adding sports teams like the Abbotsford Heat, the B.C. Lions and the Vancouver Canadians have all donated tickets as prizes for the event’s participants.
Meanwhile, residents across the province have been donating items such as bedding or desks for the school’s teachers.
McBlain says despite the fact the children at the orphanage may not have many possessions, they’re still happy. It’s for that reason she believes it’s important for people to support the cause.
“I think there (are) so many opportunities available in Canada that aren’t available in Kenya and (helping) gives us a sense – for myself – of humanity,” McBlain says.
She recalls a story in which orphanage founder Catherine Muthoni Kihiuhi found a baby at the doorstep of the school without any paperwork indicating a name or date of birth.
She says Kihiuhi picked up the infant and exclaimed, “‘Oh, my precious little girl.’”
The name stuck and to this day the girl is still called Precious.
“There (are) 176 students at this school and it’s through the efforts of volunteers that (Kihiuhi) is able to keep her doors open,” McBlain says.
Registration begins 8:30 a.m. the day of the walk before the event kicks off at 9:30 a.m. sharp. McBlain hopes at least 50 people will pay the $25 entrance fee for the fundraiser. Children five and under can participate for free.
More information can be found at http://www.aidforneema.ca/