Posted 10.22.09

A goat named Bobbi

An 11-year-old boy in Kenya is the proud owner of a goat named after me. This initiative is called the Get Your Goat program, and is designed to provide destitute families in African countries with milk for the children as well as providing baby goats so other families can benefit as well.

The umbrella charity is Africa Inland Mission http://www.aimint.org/can/ Kikima, Mbooni, Kenya, where several people are implementing the Creation of Hope project.

I received much detailed information about "my" goat, and have decided to reprint this, pretty much verbatim, with minimal editing, because I don't want to hazard any inaccuracy which might arise from my rephrasing.

This is what I discovered, from various websites and e-mails:

Keli Kamanthe is 11 and attends Utangwa Primary school. He wants to be a doctor. He lives with his brother Mwanthi Kamanthe, 12, and his grandparents, cousins and aunt in law. They live in Kikima, Kenya. The boys were late starting school and are too old for their present classes, but if they receive support, they can still do well and catch up with their peers.

The boys' mother, who was never married, worked in a bar in Nairobi. She died of TB. The grandparents are both old and sickly. The grandmother goes to look for food wherever and whenever it can be found. They live on a plot of land less than 1/8th acre with their son, daughter-in-law, and their two children.

However, the son is a casual laborer who has to work some distance from home, so he's often gone for weeks. One other son, Keli's uncle, lives in Mombasa but never visits the family or sends any money. A daughter deserted her two little boys, seven and five, so they join the other children sleeping on the kitchen floor. That makes six children all together. The only mattress is the pile of rags the grandparents sleep on.

Keli has been going to the food distributions every two weeks and has had some clothes bought for him but the situation at this family is dire and will continue to be.

When funds are available, an orphanage will be constructed and most of the children in this family and others like it will be admitted for closer attention and care. Fourteen children and their extended families are now being supported through this program.

Here is more information, copied (for the most part intact) from the website:

Contact with this village began with Eric Walters (www.ericwalters.net/) who was teaching a Grade 5 class in 1993. His students were reluctant readers, and Eric began to write to encourage them to become more involved in literature. His first novel, Stand Your Ground, was created for this class.

Since this first novel Eric has literally exploded on the children's young adult literature scene. He has now had 59 books published.

This project began with a chance meeting when Eric was in Kenya. He discovered that a young boy he found in a marketplace was one of over 500 orphans in and around Kikima -- a small rural community in Kenya. These children live in the most desperate of situations.

The Creation of Hope Project provides direct support, education, advocacy, micro-grants, and micro-loans for children and their extended families throughout the region who are living at risk.

Already seven children and their extended families have been identified and are receiving food packages every two weeks. In addition, funds raised have been used to provide other families with clothing and shoes, mattresses and blankets, medicine, school supplies, food, support to an existing children's residence, to build a chicken coop, and micro-grants for the creation of small businesses and to repair a water-tank to be used to grow food for a community garden.

The ultimate goal is to create a residence -- The Hope Children's Home -- a place where initially twenty-four children will reside, receiving the care and support to fulfill their potential. The plan involves the creation of a self-sufficient facility -- solar panels for electricity, a bio-gas plant for cooking, a well and pump for irrigation, chickens and goats, and the long-term lease of the surrounding land for cultivation. This is not charity but opportunity, a way to invest in the future of these children, this community, and the continent.

In August 2008 the community in Kikima came together -- families, church and community leaders, and orphans, along with Canadian partners - to begin the first step. The land was donated, the ground broken, and the partnership was cemented.

Individuals, corporations, fund raisers and schools (with their students) are now working together to raise the funds.

Private and corporate donations are directed through The Africa Inland Mission to allow income tax receipts to be issued. There is an 8 percent administration fee taken by AIM and the remaining 92 percent is then sent directly to workers on the ground in Kenya.

There is no administration fee taken from student raised funds. Fund raising is student driven -- they decide how to make it happen -- and 100 percent of money raised by schools is used directly for service.

Students will be able to access a website to watch each stage of the project, to see the faces of the children to be served, read their stories and see videos that document their life situations, struggles, and triumphs.

Each school will be provided with an accountability statement listing, dollar by dollar, exactly what their funds purchased and the specific children and community members who benefited.

Funds are sent to the Kenyan partners in installments. Prior to the next installment being forwarded, the previous funds will be documented with detailed, accurate accounting including receipts and photographs. Many of these photographs will be placed on the website for all to see.

The partnering team in Kenya is composed of local community activists and leaders. These are people of high integrity who not only fully understand the needs of their community and the children and families within it, but also are deeply committed to improving lives.

The Creation of Hope is administered by private individuals who oversee the project, provide a high level of accountability, and personally assume all administrative costs.

The Goat Named Bobbi was given to Keli in my honor by Steve Pitt, a friend and colleague in Toronto. Steve has been a freelance writer for three decades, is the author of six books for young adults (reviewed on my website in the Books Recommended section), and learned about The Creation of Hope project when he met Eric Walters at a reading at a school where they were both on the program. Steve's website is: http://stevepitt.ca/.

Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings. Her website is www.SimonTeakettle.com.

Barbara Florio Graham uses music in her online creativity course. Information on her website: www.SimonTeakettle.com

Copyright © 2009 Barbara Florio Graham/Log Cabin Chronicles/10.09