Abbotsford mom drawn to help kids in Kenya

Kim Lee runs the Imani Orphan Care Foundation in support of two children's homes in the African nation.

Kim Lee walks with some of the children from the In God Our Faith home in Malindi on the Kenyan coast. Kim Lee walks with some of the children from the In God Our Faith home in Malindi on the Kenyan coast. (Below) Kim Lee’s son

Kim Lee walks with some of the children from the In God Our Faith home in Malindi on the Kenyan coast. Kim Lee walks with some of the children from the In God Our Faith home in Malindi on the Kenyan coast. (Below) Kim Lee’s son

Kim Lee of Abbotsford was plagued with dreams about children pulling at her and grabbing her in a frantic state of urgency.

She sensed that they needed her help – but who were they?

Discussions with her pastor eventually led to Kim following these visions to Kenya, where she felt drawn after beginning adoption proceedings for a child from there.

The adoption fell through but, in June 2010, Kim and her husband Geoff travelled to the African nation, where she was inspired by the people she met and the things she saw.

Kim now runs the Imani Orphan Care Foundation, which provides sponsorships for children in need, supports the In God Our Faith home in Malindi on the Kenyan coast, and is working toward building an orphanage in the rural area of Ogembo.

Kim and Geoff – the parents of two boys, ages nine and 10 – came across the Malindi orphanage during their 2010 visit to Kenya. The home is occupied by children who have either been orphaned – mainly due to the AIDS epidemic in Africa – or who have been abandoned because their families cannot afford to care for them.

It is run by a woman whom the kids call Mama Sussy and her husband, Samuel.

“It felt like family,” Kim said of her first visit there. “It was so welcoming and you could just feel the love in that home. It felt like we were supposed to do something for them.”

Imani (the Swahili word for “faith”) provides items such as beds, bedding and food. Plans are underway to build a school on the site, as well as to purchase 20 acres of land for a project that will teach the kids how to farm for their own needs and to sell the food they produce.

A woodwork shop and hair salon are also in the works to provide skills training for the kids, who will eventually be re-integrated into their villages.

Imani is also raising funds to build a similar home in the Ogembo area of Kenya, where many kids live on the streets, some as young as two or three.

“They walk from village to village and house to house, and they try to get food and care,” Kim said.

Some of the children are taken into homes, where they are used as slaves. Many others become hooked on inhaling shoe glue to numb their hunger pangs and keep warm.

An orphanage currently exists in the area, but it is inadequate. Kim visited the facility in February 2012 and was saddened by the conditions.

“I saw lots of the kids didn’t have shoes, and many of them had worms in their feet because of bad sanitation.”

The kids were sleeping on wooden slats with no mattresses, and the home was dilapidated.

Imani supplied shoes for all the youngsters, as well as bedding, mattresses and bio-sand filters for clean water.

The foundation is close to purchasing a five-acre plot of land to build a new orphanage. About $15,000 has been raised toward the approximate $22,000 cost.

Imani Orphan Care Foundation raises its funds through online donations and various events, including yard sales and the annual Marathon of Hope hockey tournament, this year taking place on Sept. 7.

Kim points out that only seven per cent of the funds raised go toward administration costs.

For more information, visit imaniorphancare.com or email geoff@imaniorphancare.com.