A group of high school students and chaperones traveled this past summer to provide orphans in Kenya a summer camp experience, and some of the travelers spoke about their own experience at a dinner fundraiser for the Friends of Kakamega Orphan Care Centre, located in Kenya, on Saturday, November 12, at Newtown Congregational Church.
The dinner fundraiser began at 6 pm, and three girls — Emily Krasnickas, Hanna Holmes, and Esme Miano — began sharing a slide show of pictures from the summer trip just after 7 pm. Pastor Carra McFadden, from Christ Church United of Dracut, Mass., also spoke as the trip leader.
Pastor McFadden had been the acting associate minister at Newtown Congregational Church for a few months this year.
“It went very well. The trip was smooth in how the relationships formed,” she said before the presentation began.
Pastor McFadden said 14 people traveled to the orphan care center this past summer, including students and chaperones. This was Pastor McFadden’s sixth trip to the orphan care center.
Emily and Hanna, who are cousins, are both sophomores at Newtown High School; Esme is a junior at Easton Country Day School. Each of the girls said they want to return, and that made Pastor McFadden smile.
“There are so many children at the care center who would be overjoyed to see them walk in,” said Pastor McFadden.
A few moments after speaking with Pastor McFadden, the girls were busy setting up the slide show as people finished eating dinner or selected dessert items to go with either decaffeinated coffee or tea brought back from Kenya.
According to a pamphlet handed out at the fundraiser, Friends of Kakamega is a Maine-based nonprofit that finances the Kakamega Orphan Care Centre Project. Since 2002 it has partnered with Kenyan Quaker women to serve the needs of AIDS orphans and other at-risk children in the rural Kakamega community. The Kakamega Orphan Care Centre provides the neediest children a home, and it provides more than 250 children with provision of education and basic needs.
As the girls shared “Our Trip To Kakamega,” their photo presentation, they offered stories from when each picture was taken. Pastor McFadden also spoke during the presentation.
One picture showed a group of children crowding around the travelers when they stopped to use an outhouse on their way from Nairobe to Kakamega. Other pictures had smiling orphans posing with the travelers or showed some of the excursions from the stay in Kenya. One day the group went on a safari, and Emily said they saw a lot of zebras and baboons.
Activities with the orphans included blowing bubbles, showing them how to play chess, or teaching them how to play Duck, Duck, Goose.
Those watching the presentation learned from the girls and Pastor McFadden that $360 pays for a child’s elementary school education for a year, and $1,000 covers the annual cost for a high school student.
“Your donations go incredibly far,” said Pastor McFadden.
Since the program started, Pastor McFadden said it is making a big difference.
“We have kids with hope,” she said.
The dinner fundraiser also included a raffle for different gift baskets, and people who chose to sponsor a child were given a scarf created by a Kenyan child.
More information about Friends of Kakamega is available at its website online at friendsofkakamega.org.