KENYA TRIP 2005/2006.
WHY DID MILELE GO TO KENYA?
Milele has always endeavored to make at least one trip a year to our home country Kenya since 2000. These trips are geared towards helping build our nation in whatever small way we can. A brief recap of the trips:
2000: Partnered with Youth for Christ to bring the youth of Kenya to a closer relationship with God through a conference dubbed G-21 (Generation 21). Conference culminated in a concert for over 30,000 people at a stadium concert on New Year’s Eve.
2001: Partnered with the Catholic Church in promoting abstinence as the best way to curb the AIDS pandemic. Concert at Kenyatta Conference Center with over 5,000 young people in attendance. As many as 4,000 of them take the vow of abstinence promising to remaining chaste until they got married. Concert dubbed True Love Waits.
2002: Partnered with Kenyan Human Rights Commission to raise awareness among the youth about the social injustice issues facing our country which many young people are oblivious to. Held concert for about 3,000 people at Nairobi Cinema, many of them hearing about the Commission for the first time. Also wrote a theme song for the weeklong campaign.
2003. Partnered with RECON-KE, a campaign dubbed Passion 2003: "a positive youth of a positive Kenya". Geared towards stirring the Kenyan youth to be involved in the holistic growth of Kenya and helping them realize that they are part of the building process and that the time is now. Held concert at Carnivore grounds in conjunction with 38TH Parallel Band from the US.
2004: Visited Kenya with the sole aim of researching how to implement the Milele family homes project. Feasibility search for land, houses, partners, etc. No concert given, but while in Kenya finalized our new music project Afrique, an album dedicated to fundraising for the Milele homes project. Record this at Kijiji Records (owned by Kanjii of Milele, who by this time had moved back to Kenya permanently).
2005: Partnered with H.C.I. Oasis Africa and Shepherd’s Home to launch Milele family homes project by outlining the process and mechanism of the homes. Publicized with the media houses and churches to promote the project.
SO WHAT HAPPENED WHEN YOU GOT THERE?
We arrived in Kenya on the 22nd and the very next day, the headlines were filled with gory pictures and images of millions of Kenyans starving in over 37 districts of some arid regions. It was especially devastating to see the eyes of the beautiful innocent children who were dying of hunger. Click Here to see pictures from the two main newspaper dailies.
HOW DID THIS AFFECT YOU?
While we were in Kenya primarily for the Milele homes project, the stories in the press necessitated that we move into a triage mode, meaning that we were compelled to decide what we could do to help in some way.
SO WHAT DID YOU DO?
We decided that we would incorporate this famine relief project into our campaign, so instead of raising food for Kibera slums as had earlier been proposed, we decided to rally the country towards raising food. Instead of charging a gate fee, we collected non-perishable foods items and clothes as the means to gain access to the concert. All the proceeds were donated to the people in the hardest hit regions.
HOW DID YOU RALLY THE PEOPLE?
We were very fortunate and blessed to have the media houses and the press support us in this venture; we are truly grateful to all of them. They invited us to hold interviews in this regard and we appeared in numerous articles and on TV programs and radio shows. One of the main Christian stations Hope FM went all out to promote our concert for the famine relief project and subsequently the Milele family homes. We partnered with Evangelical Alliance of Kenya and World Vision in the distribution of the food. Click Here to view all media articles.
One of our longtime friends and partners, Pastor Pete Odera, actually took 800 kgs of food to Lodwar as he went to assess the desperate situation in the affected regions. Pete, along with many other youth leaders in the country, embarked on a major campaign to mobilize Kenya’s youth to raise food. This culminated in a very successful concert dubbed JAZA LORRY (Swahili for fill up trucks). The concert was held a month later on February 5th at one of the largest soccer stadiums in Kenya. The leaders were the founders of Pamoja Youth Initiative. www.jazalorry.com
DOES MILELE HAVE ANY LONG-TERM GOALS FOR DEALING WITH THE FAMINE RELIEF EFFORTS?
We do not have any immediate goals regarding famine relief because we are focusing on our initial projects such as the homes. However we can partner with other organizations and people who are willing to assist in the relief efforts. A good example is a group of women from Southern California who are involved in providing drinking water through digging of wells www.ordinarywomen.org . This method of irrigation farming will help eradicate hunger. Kenya has been blessed with rich soil and as soon as we can teach effective farming methods there is a good chance that we can make most people self-sufficient where food is concerned. The food drive was a one-time project intended to be a wake-up call to Kenyans that we do not always have to wait for donors and handouts: we can use whatever we have and make significant steps ourselves towards building our country. "Africa must heal itself" and "Trade not Aid" are not just slogans; they should be calls to action. We are looking into hosting a concert in Los Angeles in conjunction with various local artists with all proceeds directed to the famine relief effort. Look for more info on this on our website www.milele.com and www.eastafricafamine.com.
WHAT DID THE LAUNCH OF THE MILELE FAMILY HOMES PROJECT ENTAIL?
The launch was comprised of various facets, firstly and more importantly to introduce the Milele Model to the country. It is a revolutionary method of tackling the problems faced by AIDS pandemic orphans. In past years we have seen orphanages with 20-plus kids in an institution setting. Whereas this setting has worked to some degree, the stigma of being institutionalized can negate some of the benefits of the stability, as opposed to being raised in the context of a family with all the necessary values.
Milele Family Homes Model slightly differs from the traditional strategy as follows:
1. Buy a home in a community in any part of Kenya.
2. Identify a couple willing to take in (or preferably adopt) these kids and raise them as their own.
3. Get kids who have been orphaned by AIDS but are not HIV-positive themselves. The kids would not exceed six per home.
4. Once the family is established, Milele will assist in making the homes self-sufficient by helping the families develop a method of raising support, through an entrepreneurial business of some sort. Milele will also partner each home with a local and international church or organization.
Our launch was intended to introduce this model as well as get feedback. A concert on January 7th, 2006 dubbed Change 2006 would be the avenue through which we would do this.
WHAT WAS THE ACTUAL RESPONSE?
The concert was held on the 7th as scheduled at Nairobi Baptist Church one of our main partners in Kenya and a church with which we have forged a great working relationship. There were about 3,000 people in attendance and an amazing four tons of food was collected as the entrance fee.
We had some new artists as the opening acts, including Kora award winner Neema, Chizi, Voices United Choir, C-FU, Esther Kalunde, and Heart n Soul. Milele came up on stage for a two-hour, high-energy concert that had the attendants on their feet for most of it.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY WAS THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE CONCERT?
Having kids from Shepherd’s Academy and Homeless Children International join Milele for two songs was amazing. The audience was able to experience the results of these two organizations that have given kids who would have otherwise been desolate a hope for a brighter future. We called upon Dr. MacMillan Kiiru, the Director of Shepherd’s Home, and Megan White, the Resource Mobilization Director, to talk briefly about their projects. Click Here to view pictures from Change 2006.
DID YOU GET ANY MEDIA COVERAGE?
We received more than we could have ever expected. The main dailies Nation and East African Standard were on hand to cover the event via photographers and journalists. Nation TV also offered their camera crew to shoot the event. It was amazing was to get calls from friends saying that we were on the front page of one of the most popular newspapers, The Sunday Nation early edition. We are so grateful to all the media houses for a job well done; we owe much of the success to them for being so generous and kind. Click Here to view all articles on the concert.
WHAT MAJOR CHALLENGE DO YOU FACE IN ESTABLISHING THE FAMILY HOMES?
Finances are always the major challenge. Whereas we have dedicated all proceeds from the Afrique album, the funds raised are not enough to support the project.
The other issue is how to make the homes self-sufficient. This is a major challenge because we do not want to be in a position where the homes are entirely dependent on donations and support from without. We are in the process of researching how to make sustainability feasible.
The search for the foster/adopting parents also remains a challenge. In the past, most homes have been run by single mothers or a board of directors, but the Milele homes are looking for couples to run and maintain the family just like any normal family. We are grateful that Oasis Africa is undertaking the dutiful task of screening and presenting us with the parents. www.oasisafrica.org.
Finally we are undertaking a model that has not yet been implemented before, so we can only guess at some of the challenges that come with pioneering such a project.
HOW CAN WE PARTNER OF HELP MILELE IN THIS NOBLE CAUSE?
As cliché as it sounds, prayer is key. We believe that we should do other things than pray, but nothing should be done without prayer.
We also need professional expertise especially from those who are involved in the various aspects included in the Milele family homes, such as counseling, finance, grant writing, medical needs, household equipment, books etc.
Funding is essential. We need at least $30,000 per home. This will purchase the home and get it started. However this is an insignificant amount compared to the eventual needs. People can make donations via the store page on our website www.milele.com. Purchasing the new Afrique album is another way because all the monies raised go directly to the homes project.
Another way to help is by introducing us to churches that can become our partners. We can hold concerts and devise ways of working together in this cause. We are open to working with organizations or business that are looking for projects to support. We are are a non-profit organization so any donation will be tax exempt.
We know that we are one of the best ways to bring change to the continent of Africa since we are from there, so empowering us to actually do the work is a brilliant way of seeing that Africa forges its bright future.
We are also looking into taking groups to Kenya for short term missions, where the people can be involved in many things such as actually building the houses, working with the kids, teaching, and volunteering in various other activities. We are in the process of partnering with Infeneon Holdings, a construction company that is looking at introducing a new building technology called Moladi for affordable housing. Please refer to www.infeneon.org for more info on this technology. With this method a group visiting Kenya can erect a house ground up within three weeks and for 35% cheaper than a regular house.
This list is not exhaustive there are numerous other ways that even we may be oblivious of. Just let us know of them and how we can stand together to bring change in such needy and perilous times. So do not hesitate to make suggestions or proposals in this regard. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Our current partners are,
1. Infeneon Holdings construction of Houses.www.infeneon.com.
2. Shepherd's Homes identifies the kids orphaned by Aids. www.theshepherdshome.org
3. Oasis Africa screening and training adopting/foster parents. www.oasisafrica.org
4. Homeless Children International offering short term foster parenting opportunities. www.hci.org
5. Mavuno Church branch of Nairobi Chapel offer mentorship and volunteer base.
Please stand with us and be counted among the number.
ARE THERE ANY OTHER SIGNIFICANT THINGS THAT HAPPENED YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE?
This is tough one because there was so much we experienced we cannot highlight it all. However ill mention two that were stellar in my opinion.
When I was in Kenya last October (2005), I was introduced by an event management company called Orange Company to a group of boys who are working with Aids patients in Kibera the largest slum in Africa with a population of over one million. With about $50 they were feeding about 100 homes for a week. This stood out for me and when I got back I rallied a few friends in California and together we embarked on a walk dubbed Freedom from Hunger walk, that was organized by a friend Ciiru Mbaria and on Saturday the 10th 2005 about 25 of us went on this walk and raised some funds to partner with the boys in their cause. Click Here to view pictures of the Walk.
While in Kenya I got to witness first hand what the boys are doing. They have a little shack where they keep records of all their clients they feed families with Aids patients who can’t raise money to feed their families, we got to visit with this families and distributed food among the residents of kibera slum, it was nothing short of overwhelming. The most touching thing is that this are just young boys who do not have much but just the desire to make a difference in a very difficult place. With the monies raised we will be able to raise their monthly budget from $50 to about $300 per month all raised during one afternoon after a 10 mile walk. To see pictures of the walk and the distribution of food in Kibera click here. Click Here to view Kibera Pictures.
The other incident that stood out for me, was a story about a woman who approached me during a concert asking if there was a way we could help support her with a project she is involved in. When I probed her she told be that she is a single mother of 5 two of whom are mentally disabled. She lives in another slum called Kawangware and is a hawker (small scale vendor) and has no stable income, but with her meager resources she has taken in another 6 orphans who are also mentally disabled. Click Here to view pictures of her and the kids.
This did not make sense, since it’s very evident that she is struggling but has undertaken this task whole heartedly. I was so curious of her legitimacy because it seemed almost unreal as I went on to inquire I found that she had even been interviewed by a local newspaper and had credible references including one from The Assistant Minister of Tourism Mrs. Beth Mugo who has employed her eldest daughter so she can assist her mother with the many orphans she has taken in.
I asked her to give me her wildest wish list so that I can tell her story and helpfully get someone or people to assist in her work, to my dismay Click Here to see what she sent me. I would appeal to anyone who would like to know more about her to contact me at email@example.com. I would love to put you directly in contact with her if you would be willing to support her. How true that all we need is to look at what we have in our hand and we never know what impact we can make by being faithful with the little. Indeed the great things of destiny are achieved by the small things of daily faithfulness.
God bless Kenya and Africa and all that are devoted to see it change to its potential glory. We, as Milele have therefore embarked on a campaign that we are calling CHANGE AFRICA. Africans changing Africa.
Lastly, Click Here to view some pictures of my most recent trip to Kibera in July and visit the Tour Blog to see what else happened on that trip.