… And taking ownership.
A Small Charity is born
I met David Baldwin – founder of St. Peter’s Lifeline – on Facebook in 2015. I had spent two years trying to find a charity to support with my book, Breath of Africa, but it should not have taken me so long.
This is the first of a blog series, which I hope will provide exposure for small charities round the world, which focus on Africa. And of course, the series will become a source for countless prospective donors and volunteers in the wider world who are looking for a worthy cause to support.
Welcome, David! Over to you…
“C’mon, Dad, I’m sure we can do better than that – let’s start a charity!” My daughter’s response to the ad hoc way in which I was sending sums of money to rescue a primary school in Kenya that was about to go under.
Without giving it a second thought, I said “Oh… OK…!” in due deference to not only what seemed a very good idea, but probably mainly in agreement with a very bossy daughter.
Why Kenya? Well, I’m ‘third generation’ Kenyan born and educated – it’s in my blood, and having left when I was quite young, and refusing to go back as a tourist, this seemed a heaven-sent opportunity to re-engage in a very meaningful way with a country that I love so much.
Why that particular school?
I met Fr Joe, a young, newly ordained Kenyan priest, quite providentially when he was in UK on a short sabbatical in 2004. We kept in touch when he returned to Kenya. Soon after he was sent to his first parish – St Peter’s in Kajuki – in a harsh, remote, very conservative tribal area of Kenya, where many priests dreaded to be sent – but one which he wholly embraced. He soon realised a burning need to provide a primary education to orphan and impoverished children who would not otherwise have this precious opportunity. So, in 2006 he started, completely off his own bat, a small day/boarding primary school to provide mainly for these children – St Peter’s primary school.
In late 2008, I received messages of distress that he was going to have to close his nascent school, as he was unable to afford to feed his 180 children, owing to soaring food prices brought on by a severe drought – hence the initial money sending.
We started our charity straight away – going through all the necessary but bureaucratic rigmarole, and putting out our name and needs in the rather small public space that we inhabited. The name came quickly and clearly – ‘St Peter’s Life-Line’ – as we had literally thrown a life-line to save that school from drowning.
Our charity is Christian based – albeit very firmly accepting children from every faith or none – the main criteria being orphaned or impoverished. So, very early on, we formed a prayer support chain, mostly of our friends, fellow parishioners, and some religious communities – our faithful prayer warriors. We believe in the power of prayer, and our warriors pray for our needs on a regular basis – and we have seen those needs being met, and the miracles being worked!
Because now, in 2017, that one small school is four schools, with over 700 children. Apart from funding capital works and other projects, we are taking many orphans and impoverished children through primary, secondary, tertiary and university education – all fulfilling Fr Joe’s vision, and knowing that they will give something back to their community.
Initially our vision was to support the primary schools and the children. But other desperate needs of the community reared up – to which we willingly and in faith responded, and are successfully meeting. Currently we are:
- waging a very successful campaign against the cruel scourge of Female Genital Mutilation, very prevalent in this area;
- starting up and running a burgeoning micro finance and savings scheme for women, which is lifting their families out of poverty;
- and, in a separate feeding scheme, providing a hot, wholesome daily lunch to over 1,000 children in six local government primary schools to ‘entice’ them to come in to school every day.
Yes, many, many miracles for a small charity that does not charge a single penny in overheads – it all goes to our projects.
We have, through our people, been continually humbled and inspired. We share their many tragedies and hardships – as well as the joyful and rewarding occasions – and these we will recall in future blogs.
Thank you for coming by, David. It’s been great having you, and I look forward to more of your recollections.
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