A global partnership that started right here in Grande Prairie is changing the lives of children in Africa. Four local Rotarians are in Kireba, Nairobi, the capital of Kenya to celebrate today’s opening of a brand new orphanage.
Joel Park says the idea started after his mother went on a trip to see a friend who was working in the area. When she saw the condition of the orphanage before she asked if he thought Rotary could help. A generous donation of $150,000 was matched by the rotary clubs of Grande Prairie. The Rotary Club of Canmore donated $5,000 to beds for the facility. The Rotary Club of Kikuyu in Africa was also involved.
Many of the 70 children living there were orphaned after post-election violence in 2008. Park says they were making do with what they had. They were bringing in water and eating two meals a day. But Park is inspired by their dedication to the future.
“They are incredibly committed to getting an education. That’s the most interesting thing about the orphanage to me is that they’ve got teacher who come in every single day, who basically work for $1 a day just to make sure they get a good education.”
Every child has also committed to pursuing a university level education. They will be relocating the kids to an area that is close to a high school and post-secondary schools.
“It’s currently in the slum of Kireba, in Nairobi which is the biggest slum in all of Africa. We’re moving them out in to a territory called Kikuyu and this particular county. I would describe it as like light farmland.”
Park says getting the kids out of that environment will help keep them safe. He says it tends to be the first place violence will erupt during political turmoil.
The new facility includes an administration building for the two house mothers that oversee the children. There is also a small medical facility, dorms for the kids, a kitchen and classrooms all the way up to grade seven.
Park says it’s been a long road to completion but he can’t wait to see the kids settled in. He says improving their quality of life for the future is the ultimate goal.