As I made way south several days ago I was stuck on yet another bad rocky road. I was a bit concerned because people told me shiftas, or bandits, sometimes robbed people on this lonely stretch. A Chinese construction worker was killed there not long ago by shiftas. Then some kids started following me and throwing rocks. I shouted at them and threw rocks back (OK, maybe not the best adult role model behavior, but I was tired).
Just then a Land Rover approached from behind me and I flagged it down for a ride. It turns out it belonged to a Christian charity in Kenya run by an amazing and inspirational man, Ken Dobbin.
Ken, a retired banker and civil servant, is from Northern Ireland. He and his wife Pamela have been involved in the organization Kindfund (www.kindfund.com) for at least five years. Ken invited me to stay at his place that night, where we had dinner and talked about the charity. They have done some amazing things in Kenya. They support about 1500 children in one way or another. Most are orphans, but they also support blind and deaf children. they organize sponsorships and educational material, buy maize and beans for distribution, cook meals for the kids, build dormitories for homeless kids and nurseries for toddlers.
What I admired about Ken in the short time I spent with him was that he is a man of action, not just words. He is a Christian who believes just going to church and reading the Bible is not sufficient (by the way, Ken, if you read this, correct me if I say anything dumb). He believes in getting out there and helping people. He and Pamela spend their own savings traveling to Kenya, and they stay there about six months of the year. The other six months are back in the UK where he continues to solicit donations and support for Kindfund.
The other admirable thing about Ken is that he works hard in retirement. Many people retire without any specific goals or projects to keep them busy. Not Ken. Just watching him for a few hours and listening to his ordeals–negotiating with builders, getting things fabricated at a local welding shop, discussing wages with a contractor, getting tough with corrupt local officials–I made the comment that he is probably busier now than he was before retirement. He did not disagree. What a way to spend your retirement!
The following is from their web site:
A vibrant Christian witness throughout Northern Kenya with initial focus among the Turkana, Samburu and Rendille villages.
Showing God’s wonderful kindness and love in action through supporting the social action God has placed in the heart of the local Christian community and empowering them to do the work.
Commencing in 2004 with support for one Nursery School at Ngaremara KIndfund has experienced favour to develop the support for Nursery Schools, introduce and sustain a major daily meal programme for orphans at risk and support remote communities
In 2008 Kindfund built the first permanent home for 48 of the most desperate orphans at Wamba where many are the innocent victims of AIDS. The first 12 children entered the home in October 2008. A Children’s Home with 46 children in Isiolo and a Home for 14 Blind Children attached to a Primary School in Isiolo were also sponsored.
In 2007 Kindfund stretched North to support 20 nursery children among the Rendille West of Laisamis, 2 hours North from Archers Post. After two visits to Laisamis in July and September this was expanded to support three nursery schools and 202 children rising in September 08 to 8 nursery schools and over 400 children. Kindfund has been asked to consider expanding this to 15 nursery schools and over 700 children among the Rendille a tribe living on the edge of the desert.
Kindfund subsequently dug a borehole and provided an Afridev handpump in a Rendille village in Feb 2008 and a further borehole and handpump at another needy village in August 2008 bringing to 5 the number of boreholes and hand pumps installed . There are more opportunities among the Rendille who have little contact with the outside world. Please pray for these and other developments of the work. We know it is God’s heart.
You can help support this worthy cause in a number of ways. Again, from their web site:
– Ask God to ‘enlarge our tents’. Register on the Home Page for our Prayer Letter email (5 times p.a.) to keep you up to date on prayer topics.
– Provide speaking invitations or just gossip about the work to others.
– Purchase or arrange the sale of Turkana/Samburu Jewellery. Perhaps you belong to a women’s group who might like to help through purchasing jewellery or you may be able to interest neighbours or collegues in work.
– Purchase a Gift or Christmas card as an alternative present or ask your friends to make a donation in lieu of birthday presents or flowers,
– Sponsor a child through nursery school from £5 (€8) per month.
– Sponsor an orphan or street child from £10 (€15) per month.
– Sponsor a deaf, blind or other special needs child through Primary School for £15 (€22) per month.
– Sponsor a secondary school young person at boarding school from £20 (€29) per month (most secondary education in Kenya is boarding).
– Gift towards relief food or use the Gift Cards on this site.
– Gifts towards Capital projects: Homes for children, furnishings, clothes and uniforms, digging bore holes, providing hand pumps, repairing water supplies, building classroom etc.
Or you can simply donate using an online form. There is more information on how to get involved on their web site, www.kindfund.com.
I can vouch that almost all your money will go directly to the kids who need it. Kindfund has very low overhead and admin expenses. All travel costs are paid for out of their own pockets. Ken is also a tough negotiator. I heard him discussing labor wages with a contractor. Being a former banker he is a stickler for managing the costs. When the laborers demanded higher wages than the norm, he sent them packing and began a search for others. He and Pamela of course receive no salary for this work, it is all volunteer.
Here is a photo of Ken discussing an issue with two staff members.
I certainly have praise for Ken and Pamelas work. Their desire to bring a better life for those less fortunate is to be admired.
Your photos of Africa are amazing. You have a real nack for capturing faces. I mean the pictures of the people are National Geographic quality…no joke. You’ve impressed me more in the last year and 1/2 then you did in the 7 years we were together, and that’s saying something.
I just came from visiting Kim in South Beach, and of course I had a relaxing time. As usual, I got sunburnt. I enjoyed spending time with Kim, but it wasn’t the same without you. Hopefully, once you get home and settled, I can come down for a visit. I know you’ll have some fascinating stories to tell. Email me when you get a chance. Be safe.
Nik, thanks for the comment.
“You’ve impressed me more in the last year and 1/2 then you did in the 7 years we were together”
I don’t know if I should feel flattered or insulted.
Just getting back on your blog again. I’m reading your most recent entry but need to back track to Sept. ’08. Think about you often out there in the wilderness and hope you are well. It’s another cold, blustery day in the U.P., about 20. I’m getting ready to go for a cross country ski with some friends. All is well here.
People like Ken amaze me. Where does that passion to do that come from? I always say I want to volunteer and have done it maybe a few times in my life. big deal. To devote your life to it is amazing. Like anything, it must just be in them…this driving force. Thank God for people like him and his wife.
Been talking with Trina a bit. Sure has been great reconnecting.
I’ll keep watching.
You should definitely feel flattered.