“Success is the sum of small things repeated day in and day out” – Robet Collier.
This month Ameena Project celebrates a full two years since teachers Mercy and Hillary approached Ian and Anne about starting a new school. While in some ways the time seems to have flown by, and so much has been accomplished, in other ways we find ourselves falling into the “American dream” of wanting it to be BIGGER, better, MORE.
When these thoughts creep in, we remind ourselves that the goal of Ameena Project isn’t to build big, beautiful things that draw the accolades and attention of others. What Ameena Project is about is the process of coming along side of local people to enable them to better their communities. For whatever reason, we have been blessed with material means here in the West and with that comes great responsibility. For now, that means the process of running a preschool and feeding program, day in and day out. It isn’t fancy or exciting (honestly, how many blogs or pictures can we share of kids sitting down for porridge and learning their ABC’s), but it is amazing and brings opportunity and hope to a group of people that otherwise might not experience it.
Here in the States, our Ameena Project team meets regularly to discuss future plans and growth. We have been waiting to hear about the process of demarcation (property titling/deed–ing) in Kiang’ombe, by the government of Kenya, making this area not one owned by the government and squatted on by these peoples, but one that could be legally bought and sold. There have been several scenarios we have worked through to acquire a more permanent right to a school space, but unfortunately the demarcation process is being contested and is going through the court system. This could go on for years…..so in the meantime—we go on with school, and feeding, and encouraging little children and families–and wait on dreams of permanent school buildings and space. This is an ever present reality in Kenya and much of Africa and the developing world—hurry up and wait.
As summer comes to an end here in the states, spring is right around the corner in Kenya. September
marks the start of the last term in Kenya and the last chance for many of our preschool children to attain the
prerequisite skills for the primary school entrance exam. These children need to have solid skills in number and letter knowledge, and also in the national language of Kiswahili. Often, kids from slum communities like ours will speak a tribal dialect (in this case Kikuyu), and will not have the Swahili language awareness needed for school. Coming to school daily and interacting with our staff gives them the necessary understanding of Swahili that they will need to perform well and gain entrance into primary school.
In our continuing relationships with friends and communities in Thika, Kenya, we (Ian and Anne) are consistently approached by people needing help and assistance with medical procedures or medications that need to be given, and cannot be afforded by the family or individual. At times, this might be as inexpensive as assisting with the medical card and treatment of a wound ($10), at other times, it is getting ultrasounds, MRI’s and CT scans ($100-$200) or life saving surgery ($1000). All of these procedures are easily accessed in Thika, if one can afford to pay for them. While we have been personally helping these people outside of Ameena Project, we would love your input on the thought of a Medical Access Fund through Ameena Project that is essentially money set aside to assist individuals with medical procedures and medications. We would have a staff member available to screen fund applications and also to track the progress of the medical treatment. It is exciting to think that we could help is such a BIG way, with relatively little effort and risk on our part.
We want to also remember as we write all of these things to thank each and every one of you who has helped make Ameena Project a reality. We want to publicly acknowledge the volunteer work of Megan Steele for the last year and a half. Megan was instrumental in helping us secure our non-profit status and to get quality graphic design services. Shari Altree and Jenn Sanow continue to leverage their knowledge, contacts and passion to move our project forward, and for this we are greatly indebted. To YOU, our financial supporters, you make this dream and passion a reality, and encourage us daily with your faithful and often sacrificial giving. If you are reading this and are not financially supporting us, we always welcome your tax deductible support, and encourage you to sign up for monthly giving! A donation of $30/month or greater makes a great impact, and you can be assured that 100% of your funds, unless otherwise specified by you, goes directly to the work in Kenya! This in itself is hard to come by in the non-profit world today. No fancy bookkeeping, just 100% of your money helping kids and families in Kenya.
As Ameena Project has come together it has been remarkable to watch as people step in to help in creative and inspiring ways. A story is being told here that is bigger than all of us and new characters pop into the story, often when we need them the most. All of our fund raisers have been put on by families or individuals who felt inspired to play a part and we love to watch you work. A new friend of Ameena Project, athlete Christian Isakson, has some sweet new ideas in the works and we are honored to have such a passionate and talented new friend. Our Friends of Ameena Page has some fun highlights of how others have chosen to get involved. We believe that people live out their innate purpose best when actively using their time, talents, and the resources they’ve been given in the service of others. We hope you find your place to make a difference!