Life in Kenya can be hard no matter who you are, but especially so for the working poor. I frequently get asked “Why help those people over there–when there are so many struggling families right here in the US?” I’ve given many answers over the years, but I suppose the answer I always come back to is simply “Because I can”. It seems like that reality always leaves me with the concrete choice: Do what I can, or tell myself something to feel OK not doing what I can.
Anne and I have spent our careers and adult life helping the vulnerable members of our community here and have no plans to change that. Yet coming along side Kenyan friends and the children and families in Kiang’ombe is different.
Teachers in Kenya earn a decent wage by local standards, around $300 per month. That comes out to just under $2 per hour. The working poor survive on far less, $100 – $150 per month is a typical wage: $0.65 – $0.95 an hour. Most of the families in Kiang’ombe earn much less. The remarkable thing is that basic goods / services like food, water, cooking fuel, gasoline, transportation costs, electricity, school, etc … are basically the same price as here in Portland, some even more expensive. There is also NO SOCIAL SAFETY NET. No child welfare department, no government housing assistance, no Wic, no shelters, no mental health system, no food stamps, no public health insurance, no fully free public school, no clothes closets, absolutely nothing. If you can’t pay for something up front, in cash … you don’t get it. Families must make their own way and carve out a life for themselves or die trying. Many in Kiang’ombe are not able to succeed in meeting the most basic needs for their children, while working their hardest to do so.
That is the difference.
At Ameena Project, everyone who has gotten involved has decided that they too can work for change, work for justice, work for the dignity and opportunity that all people deserve. What do you earn? How much is 1 hour of your work worth? In Oregon the current minimum wage is $9.10, I’m guessing most people reading this earn even more than that. Would you consider spending 1 hour of your work a month to come along side the children and families Ameena Project serves in Kiang’ombe. With just 1 minimum wage hour a month we could provide 75 meals to kids who really need it. What could your 1 hour do? Please consider donating what you earn per hour once a month by signing up for a recurring donation at http://ameenaproject.org/how-you-can-help/. We all work 160 or more hours a month, just 1 invested in the lives of children and families in Kiang’ombe will do so much.