Written by Michael Frederikson, President at Community Education Services (CES) Canada
As a young boy I remember asking my father for five dollars to buy a baseball glove. “Everyone has one but me,” I said, hoping to pull a heart string or two. He replied in Danish –– “penge faller ikke fra himlen!” Money does not fall from the sky or as others have said, “does not grow on trees.” Clearly that day I was out of luck.
During the past two decades I have had the privilege of being involved with a Canadian charity that provides access to education for orphaned youth living in Kenya. There is a notion in many developing countries including Kenya, that people from the west have unlimited access to money; and, that those funds should be freely shared. Few really understand or appreciate the sacrifices people have made over the years to create as in the case of CES in Kenya, scholarships and access to education. The helping hand is too often taken for granted.
There is no expectation that our outreach be rewarded with gratitude. When faced with the enormous inequities of human rights and justice for all, we simply respond to do what we can. That said, there is still a small part of the human psyche that begs a certain respect and understanding of how that help comes about. Good things do not come about as a matter of course or ‘fall from the sky’. It takes personal sacrifice with great love.
As I consider our work in western Kenya, some examples come to mind. But before I speak of people and their willingness to raise funds for a good cause, there is a principle that connects them all –– ‘Volunteerism’. It’s the practice of giving one’s time, talent, energy, and skills to a cause without being paid for it. People see a need, identify with it and do something about it.
Volunteerism is marked by a desire to build human relationships, to participate in other people’s lives and fundamentally to give life meaning. Singly sometimes, but mostly in groups, volunteers are motivated by values of justice and equality. Volunteers with Community Education Services (CES) Canada believe they can help to reduce poverty and improve basic health and education for needy young people.
Since 2005 –– volunteers have made possible 3500 secondary and post-secondary education scholarships in 45 schools and 12 universities, created numerous school infrastructure projects, and promoted a variety of community health outreach programs. They have given their time, their funds and have sacrificed personal pursuits. The following people are examples of what a volunteer does best –– ‘give from the heart’.
Scenario A - Lynn Zolinski - Volunteer Canada
*3500 apple and strawberry pies baked in her kitchen and sold over a period of three years. Ingredients paid for by volunteer. Time to produce and sell to public freely given. Total profit $20,000 - 4 classrooms built for Musaga SS. Officially dedicated the school in 2013.
Scenario B - Yu Nakajima - Volunteer Japan
*young person mid 20’s with interest in developing countries, particularly Kenya. Googles to find CES Canada and asks to become a volunteer. Invited to Canada for cultural training and travels in 2012 to Kenya to visit schools. Returns home to establish a CES Kenya chapter raising funds for education scholarships. Still actively involved.
Scenario C - Sandy Guthrie - Volunteer Canada
*travelled to Tanzania spending time with orphaned children. Discovered CES Canada and first visited Kenya in 2011 to establish the Canada Day Run. Result - 3000 athletic shoes awarded to CES students. Friendship with St Mary Goretti Girls HS Shikoti and part of a team to plan for and help build St Agnes Dorm. Still actively involved.
Scenario D - Tom Conant - Volunteer Canada
*Twice to Kenya spending nearly one year to establish friendships and community outreach. This included the Bishop Sulumeti Girls SS Library, CES Worms Project (50,000 children) and the CES Canada-Kenya 140 Km Run and Rally for Peace. Still actively involved.
Scenario E - Carl Friesen - Volunteer Canada
*Travelling to Kenya on two occasions to do research and interview 50 people, his contribution to the CES publication, ’Under the Acacia Tree’. In addition, Carl funds university scholarships and a number of farming initiatives. Still actively involved.
Scenario F - Malik Khaemba - Volunteer Kenya
*Retiring in 2005 as a Diplomat from his final posting in Canada, ‘Patron’ returns to Kenya to give back –– 16 years as CEO of CES Kenya. Without stipend or major fanfare, his work and legacy continue in the lives of countless Kenyan youth. Still actively involved.
Scenario G - Sharyn Poole - Volunteer Canada
First travelled to Kenya in 2009, helped create the groundwork to build our first well built at Eshitari SS in 2010. She returned to Kenya on five occasions, her first love and second home. Sharyn created special bonds of friendship with CES alumna and was known to many as “mum”. She died in Kakamega on June 26, 2013. Still actively involved “from a distance”.
Scenario H - Edwin Nyongesa Juma - Volunteer Kenya
Edwin volunteers significant time to coordinate the CES Kenya Alumni program. His leadership includes friendship outreach to the Divine Providence Orphanage, supervising events such as the Form 4 Leadership Conference, creating environment tree-planting projects, and assisting alumni to obtain support during Covid19. Together with other alumni, Edwin regularly travels to CES schools to mentor and educate students in areas of water management and hygiene.
Scenario H - Steven Hao - Volunteer USA
Steven has a huge interest in Kenya and has raised funds for education scholarships since he was 12 years of age. Now in High School he continues through his own business, ‘Red Cap Shop’, by selling specialized art, shirts and hats with African motifs and CES logos. He also grows a vegetable garden, with profits for the work of CES in Kenya. Still actively involved.
Scenario I - Winnifred Fisher - Volunteer Canada
Wynn is a pensioner, and at age 99 years our oldest ’fan’. A number of years ago she met with other seniors to create hand-knit cuddle dolls. These brought joy to hundreds of orphaned children in Kenya. She has sponsored many CES students and is a faithful participant in our annual Christmas fundraisers for backpacks, solar lamps, anti-malaria nets, health-kits and PAD resources. Still actively involved.
Scenario J - Wetende Musli - Volunteer Kenya
CES Kenya Alumnus Busuku Musli has been a strong supporter of our work in Community Health. Through his medical practice he has volunteered hundreds of hours to enable CES in Vision and Jiggers outreach programs. He continues to serve through the Uziwa Clinic at Bushiri.
Money does not fall from the sky…it is a limited resource and not easily obtained. As one wise mother said to her child, “if money grew on trees, then someone else would own the orchard.”
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