As 2012 comes to an end we wanted to send out a letter to share more details about the work being done through Ameena Project. Since it’s inception in September 2011, progress has been brisk! Initially, we partnered with a fiscal sponsor and shortly after acquired our own non-profit status! We were blessed to have a variety of folks mentor and guide us through a somewhat foreign process! We have been able to keep to our original goal of 100% volunteer run operations here in the States, with a full 100% of your donations going to feeding and educating children in Kiang’ombe, Kenya .
In wrapping up our first full year of operations we can’t help but be amazed at how things have worked together for this good. We have developed a core group of volunteers here in the states to manage all of the domestic administration required to operate the non-profit. Recurring monthly donors currently cover nearly 80% of our ongoing Kenyan operational costs, and we have a small cushion in the bank. Generous people have surrounded us and given time, talents, and funds so that we are now in a position to discuss further program development. Anne and I will be traveling to Kiang’ombe in January to meet with our staff and community partners to fully explore how Ameena Project can deepen it’s impact. Yes, that says deepen, not broaden. Over the past few months we’ve been challenging ourselves to focus on growing Ameena Project deeper, not just bigger. A question we discuss often is, “How can we leverage our resources to benefit these specific kids, in this specific community, long term, in a culturally appropriate way?
Since opening our doors in January, we have been consistently running way over capacity with 75 children in a program designed for 50. We’ve served 30,000 hot meals to hungry kids and have seen the dramatic changes adequate nutrition produces. Sixteen of the kids attending our program are now school aged and academically ready to enter local primary schools in January when the Kenyan school year starts. Ameena Project has ensured that these kids are ready for school prepared for success. We have also decided to continue supporting these children as they move on. With your support, we will be providing the essentials for them to attend and succeed in local public school. While Elementary school is technically free in Kenya, there are often other associated costs that become insurmountable barriers for those in extreme poverty. At Ameena Project we’ve decided to eliminate those barriers by providing the uniforms, school fees, and lunch fees these children.
We have had many fundraising efforts over the year and feel humbled by the flood of ideas and inspiration you have brought to us. Not only are we focused on meeting critical needs of children who attend our program in Kenya , we are also committed to impacting lives right here at home by creating a place to plug in, get involved, and use your passion and talents. We believe that people live out their innate purpose best when they are able to use their talents to meaningfully help another human being. Can you remember back to March when you all donated supplies that we took to stock the classroom? It seems ages ago, yet that was just 9 months ago.
Shortly after returning from that spring visit, an enthusiastic supporter named Lara approached us with the idea of a benefit concert, at her home, in August. She put on a wonderful Evening in the Country that raised enough money to take us from touch and go financials to the beginning of financial stability. Others of you have given us strategic fundraising advice that enabled us to broaden and deepen our support base. A group of great girls, The Bracelet Bunch, has repeatedly made it known that kids have big hearts and big ideas. They have creatively raised money on their own and made regular and ongoing donations throughout the year. NW Scrubs decided to get involved in a big way and in a two week online promotion raised enough to build a new classroom, new cook house, and new covered patio – all under construction now. Just this week the local chief, various NGO directors, the staff, community, and kids had a big party celebrating the one year anniversary of operations in Kiang’ombe. This wonderful time of new hope and optimism was funded entirely by two girls in Salem who decided to use their own birthday party as a fundraiser. Two girls with global compassion have thrown a party for a whole community. Read more about Lauren and Amelia HERE! Other kids have worked independently to plan and execute fund raisers at local schools–what a practical way to learn about community, economics, altruism and the entrepreneurial spirit.
Looking back, Ameena Project has come farther than we had ever hoped in 2012. All of our goals were met and we are now positioned to move into a future that is truly beyond what we had ever anticipated. We’ve been able to accomplish all of this under our original monthly budget of only $1575. So little has done so much! Our 5 Kenyan staff have worked tirelessly to lay down a solid foundation on a shoestring budget and we couldn’t be happier with what they’ve accomplished. The community is rallying around the program and developing a strong sense of shared responsibility and investment in it’s success.
To everyone who has played a part in what has been accomplished this year we say well done and be proud of what we’ve done together! Hope, joy, and new opportunity has been brought to some very needy kids and the community of Kiang’ombe. At times we have a hard time believing that so much progress has been made this year, but it all is very real and powerfully impacting to everyone involved.
Here are some of our upcoming needs for 2013:
– Public school support for 16 graduating children (uniform, school fees, lunch fees) – $70 per child per year.
– Cost of Living pay increase for employees starting Jan 2013 – Amount TBD
– Desks, chairs, blackboard, and educational supplies for our new additional classroom – $1200
– Monthly Donors – sign up online for a recurring donation to support our ongoing operations. We are still a few hundred dollars short of having operation 100% covered, even at our current budget.
We are humbled and encouraged by your current support and can’t wait to see what this new year brings!
Ian & Anne May