Why don't you focus on the needs of children here in the United States? Why are we helping kids in Kenya?
Every organization has a particular vision that it sets out to fulfill. It is true that so many children in the US are in need of help, and there are many organizations doing very good work here. It is also true that poverty is so extreme in Africa ““ and in the Third World at large ““ that the multitudes of children living in utter destitution have little hope, if any at all. For most there is no net to stop them from falling off into the abyss. We are one tiny net that helps a few children from falling off of the cliff by providing a loving home and a hope for a bright future. Many more children, who would otherwise be wandering around dressed in rags with little food, are now in school with food in their stomach on a daily basis and are being educated with the hope of a future. In our country wearing a uniform to school is seen as a drag; our kids at Red Rhino know that that uniform means hope.
What is your view of the current aid model in Africa? How do I know my money will go to the source and not be wasted on bureaucratic nonsense?
The current aid model in Africa is rife with major problems. Much of the money given to aid organizations is wasted. Many of the biggest African aid organizations spend a great deal of their donor’s money and resources on motivational team-building camps for their workers and other such activities. While we have made our share of mistakes in the learning process, you can be certain that 0% of your money is wasted on frivolous activities or bureaucratic excesses. Your money goes straight to the source ““ the direct care of the children.
The easiest way to get involved is to directly sponsor a child. You will receive direct correspondences from her/him and your letters and cards are very important to the child. They hang them by their bedside. We also need help with our fundraisers and other events. You can also think of something creative at your work or school to help promote and raise funds for the effort. We have had supporters hold a work party or birthday parties and have donations go to RROP in lieu of gifts.
We do not have a formal volunteer program in place. That may change as things evolve with the project
Absolutely! Your child can start a club at his/her school, have a birthday party where friends can make a donation in lieu of a gift, hold a bowl-a-thon or some other fun event. We have had classes raise money and send our kids on field trips. Others have collected clothing, medical supplies, and much needed items that are sent directly to the children. Another idea is to sponsor a child as a family and receive updates from a Red Rhino child. As a challenge, your child/family/business can raise $1,000 and with that money a “˜brick’ is placed up on a wall in the Children’s main dining and study area. The brick could be dedicated to a family, in memory of an individual, or any other creative way and have it placed permanently up on the wall at Red Rhino in Africa.
David Saunders, a Red Rhino Board member lives in Kenya and manages the project on the ground. In the USA, the RROP Board of Directors makes the financial and procedural decisions to make sure the mission of Red Rhino is carried out in the most ethical, transparent, and efficient way possible for the benefit of the children of Red Rhino.
No. Our mission is to empower some of the poorest and most disadvantaged children in Kenya, primarily through education, to become contributing members of Kenyan society and leaders of the next generation.
Our original Red Rhino kids mostly come from a rescued babies center. From there they are commissioned to us. The youngest child is now 10 years old and our oldest is 19. All of these children were either abandoned or found living in the worst of conditions. Our sponsorship program allows one to be in contact directly with one or more of our kids and build a relationship from afar.
The long-term plan for the project is to see our current generation of kids through until they are self-sufficient ““ having obtained the highest level of education they are capable of ““ including trade schools when university is not an option (which it won’t be for most due to the rigor of the university system based on the British model). Simultaneously, we will continue to strategically and patiently build our community school’s project, our main outreach program. Now that we have had a base in Kenya for over a decade, know the lay of the land well, and have developed a highly respected reputation on the ground, we see the great work that can be done educating more and more children who would not otherwise have any chance of going to school. The long range plan is to stick with our mission which has always been centered on education and, through it, continue to help create opportunities for children to make their way out of what would otherwise be a life of poverty.
No. Our children do celebrate their faith in the community they come from.
We remain a grassroots effort just like when we started. Our funds mainly come from individual donors which include sponsors. Our sponsors, who pay monthly or annually to sponsor an individual child, allow us to have a base of money to rely on. We have one big annual fundraiser every year, usually at the home of a philanthropically-minded person or couple. This important event is known as “One Under the Stars.” Our second annual fundraiser, while smaller in scale, has been a mainstay of the project for over a decade; it is the Red Rhino Walk-a-thon held at Saint Mary’s High School in Stockton in early spring. We also receive the support of the Santa Monica Rotary, Shamrock Charities from Seattle, Washington, Presentation and Annunciation Parishes in Stockton. These organizations have been with us since the earliest days of the effort. From this support to direct sponsorship of our children, our annual fundraisers and the creative ways individuals come up with to raise funds, the result is our kids continue to thrive and be living testimony to the mission of RROP. Long-term funding remains a goal to establish an endowment for the future.
Like with any neighborhood, it is a relative to the circumstances sometimes of the moment. However, there are tremendous misconceptions about Africa. First, Africa is made up of 54 countries and Kenya is only one of them. Africa is over 3 times larger than the United States in area and in population. Often, events occur thousands of miles away (e.g., the most recent Ebola outbreak) and have no effect on our region of Africa. The area that our Children’s Centre is in is generally safe and we take extraordinary precautions to insure it stays that way.
Our goals over the years have evolved from a focus on housing children to goals that center on helping more and more children out of the plight of poverty through the vehicle of education but not necessarily housing them. We will certainly continue to evolve, and change comes sometimes faster than we can anticipate. At the center is always what is best for the children and that will ultimately dictate how we evolve in the future.
Our project director is a co-founder and RROP board member David Saunders. David lives a part of the year in Kenya and oversees the operation. Joy Faye, our child welfare expert, comes to Kenya 3 times a year. The children are looked after every day and night by our housemothers and there are always at least two on duty. Our Matron, Fiona, is a social worker directly in charge of looking after the needs and welfare of our kids. Fiona lives on site as does our Director of Facilities, Gilbert.
After high school some students will go on to university, others to trade schools or internships, and some possibly directly into the workforce. Our kids will always be welcomed back to visit and stay connected, but like our own children, we want them to be as independent and self-sufficient as possible.