Children at Africa Hope Center performing in the Activity Session with the UNITED SIKHS Team
Gurvinder Singh, UNITED SIKHS Director from Texas, USA, recalls the famous lines of Nida Fazli, an Urdu poet from India, “Ghar se Masjid hai bahut door, chalo yun kar lein, Kisi rotey huey bachhey ko hansaya jaaye” (The Prayer Hall is a long distance from home, let us instead bring laughter to a child in tears). This line summed up his experience with the volunteers from various grassroots organizations working for the children of Kenya. When you help a child, divinity is right there.
The UNITED SIKHS team from USA was at Africa Hope Center on January 13, 2010. The Africa Hope Center Children’s Home is located in Kayole, Eastland of the city of Nairobi, Kenya, East Africa. The center opened its doors in January 2005 with 5 AIDS affected orphan children. This number has grown to 107 today including boys and girls ranging in age from 4 to 18 years. The center provides basic necessities of life namely food, clothing, and shelter, and helps the children overcome the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS through counseling programs. Africa Hope Center also ensures that the children get the best education given the available resources. The average cost per child is $100 per month.
Children at the Africa Hope Center, Nairobi
Jaswinder Kaur, UNITED SIKHS Kenya Director has been involved with the Centre since inception. The center is in the process of constructing its own premises. The facility, once completed, will be a center of excellence with education center, hostels, computer laboratories, and a vocational training center. The entire project is set to cost KSH 40 Million (about USD 500,000). The first phase (costing approximately USD 120,000) is under construction, supported by UNITED SIKHS. The 5 children currently sponsored by UNITED SIKHS spent some time with our team and we will share what they had to say in a later note. The team also engaged all the children at the center in activities conveying the message of hope and Chardi Kala.
New Africa Hope Center Building under Construction, supported by UNITED SIKHS Kenya
Children are the future of the world, clichéd, but true. In our own small ways we can do a lot to shape the future – volunteer or donate for grassroots projects for helping children in our own communities, nationally, or internationally. According to Analysts, despite the Millennium Development Goals and International Aid flowing into Africa, the major reasons that Africa continues to lag in development are: corruption, unfair trade practices and policies on the part of developed countries, and the lack of strict monitoring and non-involvement of beneficiary communities in donor-funded development projects. As individuals, we may not have much direct control on the first two factors, but the answer to the third issue is organizations like UNITED SIKHS that work with local communities, involve them, and are transparent (with negligible overheads). Sounds like democracy? It sure is at work with UNITED SIKHS!