Kenyan orphanage receives donations thanks to efforts of Area Learning Center students
WILLMAR -- Imagine you're a 5-year-old child, walking miles and miles to school, without any breakfast or much hope of lunch. Imagine making that walk without shoes, even in the cold, wearing the only set of clothing you own. Imagine trying to su...
WILLMAR -- Imagine you're a 5-year-old child, walking miles and miles to school, without any breakfast or much hope of lunch.
Imagine making that walk without shoes, even in the cold, wearing the only set of clothing you own.
Imagine trying to survive in that world without the support of your parents, who are sick or dead because of AIDS.
Mumbi Mwangi painted that picture for students at Willmar's Area Learning Center Friday when she visited the school to accept donations for the Ngatha International orphanage in Kenya. The orphanage will provide a home and school for children who have been orphaned by AIDS.
The students made quilts and collected Beanie Babies and other items to send to Kenya. Mwangi is a native of Kenya who came to the United States nine years ago to pursue her doctoral degree. She is a professor of women's studies at St. Cloud State University.
But in her childhood, her life was the one she asked the students to picture in their minds.
She told the students how her mother raised six children single-handedly on a schoolteacher's salary. They often didn't have enough to eat, and she doesn't recall having shoes to wear when she was a child, she said. But her mother understood the importance of education and made sure her children went to school.
"Every penny she had, she used it to pay for our school fees," Mwangi told the students, who listened in silence.
When she came to the United States, she said, she was amazed at the abundance of things and at the amount of waste she saw.
She went to the store to buy bread, which cost $1.50, more than a day's wages in Kenya. Her thought: "Why don't I just send that money back to Kenya and help somebody."
Ngatha International is the culmination of her hopes to help people in Kenya, to share what she has found in this country.
"The efforts you have done here are going to make a difference in children's lives," she told the students. "These Beanie Babies make a difference in the life of children who don't have a mother or father to hug."
Mwangi offered a challenge to the students. "Don't stop it there," she said. "These children need you every day, every month, forever."
The students collected 1,236 Beanie Babies to send to the children in Kenya, made eight quilts and collected clothing and household items. They also donated $100 raised through a raffle and from profits from the school store. The donations filled the back seat and trunk of Mwangi's car and the box of Ngatha board member Tammi Joy Parsons' pickup truck.
"It's amazing," Mwangi said after the presentation. "This has been really phenomenal."
Mwangi said she is aware that many of the students at the ALC come from low-income families. She hopes to develop an ongoing connection between the orphanage and the school.
Donations for Ngatha may be mailed to Ngatha International, P.O. Box 644, Waite Park, MN 56387-0644. To sponsor a child for $36 a month, send an e-mail to email@example.com .
Donated goods may be dropped off at Peart & Associates, 500 Industrial Drive, in Willmar's industrial park.