Walking up the stairs to Barb Giraud’s apartment, the smell of banana bread wafts in the air. It has become a familiar scent for her neighbours.
Recently retired, the 66-year-old gets up at 6 a.m. to start her baking for the day and will often not leave her house if she is filling a large order.
A box of ripe bananas sits on the kitchen table. Big bags of flour, recently donated by Save-On-Foods, are propped up on the floor.
Giraud bounces around the kitchen, showing pictures of the Ugandan children her organization will take off the streets.
“Do I get too excited? I’m like a 20-year-old.”
Since Giraud started fundraising in June 2010, she has baked more than 4,000 loaves and has raised approximately $50,000. One hundred per cent of those proceeds have gone towards building the Jaaja Barb’s Home of Angels foundation in Uganda.
The orphanage will house 32 children, all of whom have HIV.
“We’re taking the worst of the worst out of the jungle. We’re going far away to find them.”
Among the kids will be two girls, Hope and Desire, who have been taking care of their blind and immobile grandmothers their entire lives. They’ll also accept another little girl, mentally challenged and unable to walk, who has been living on the streets.
Giraud picked these children with her colleague, Edwin Lufafa, 21, when she travelled to Jinja in 2010.
The two met on an online chat group two years ago, and Edwin, who lives in Uganda, expressed his dream of getting kids out of the dumpsters.
After talking for a year, she went to meet Edwin and see the foundation’s proposed location, on land donated to Edwin from a family member.
She walked onto the tarmac at the Jinja airport, and saw Edwin standing at arrivals, with a bouquet of roses. Both started crying.
“I’m like his grandmother,” she said, “That’s what jaaja means (in Luganden).”
Edwin left home at a very young age and growing up, he vowed to help kids like him.
Inspired by her trip, Giraud decided she would bake and sell banana bread to raise money.
Twenty-seven men are currently working on the property, installing septic tanks and pouring cement.
The main house for the children is finished and includes four rooms. A well has been drilled, producing about 5,000 litres daily.
“Can you imagine? They said that they found the purest water, on our property.”
Construction has started on a separate building for two “aunties” who will care for the children, along with teams of doctors or other groups who travel to the foundation.
Mango, avocado and banana trees are abundant on the land.
The next project will be to have an eight-foot wall encompass the area to protect the children.
They will need money to buy 100 goats, and over time that will climb to 200, so the program becomes self-sustaining.
“Because I can’t keep baking banana bread all my life. I’m 66 now.”
But for now, Giraud is only too happy to receive more orders for her $10 loaves.
“I’m so determined. I just have visions of these kids. If I get orders for banana bread, then I get to send more money over there. I’ll just work harder,” said the Abbotsford resident, who within a year plans on moving to the village Mpumudde, just outside of Jinja.
The house was set to open this February, but Giraud needs more time in order to raise enough support.
Meanwhile, some children have already been receiving treatment from Edwin’s brother Isaac, a doctor who has been able to distribute HIV medication due to a monthly $300 donation from a Kelowna couple.
“That will prolong their life.”
For information or to donate, contact Giraud at email@example.com, or visit her blog at http://jaajabarbshomeofangels.blogspot.com/.