29:11 Inc. lending a helping hand
The organizers of 29:11 Inc., a non-profit group taking its name form Jeremiah 29:11, see their mission as improving the quality of life for orphans and street kids in Kakmega, Kenya.
“Some of the these kids [in Kenya] have been on the street for so long, they don’t see any other hope or future for themselves,” said Jennifer Satterlee, president of 29:11 Inc.
Satterlee plans to travel to Kakamega, Kenya next month with Rhiannon Babson, vice-president, 29:11 Inc., to provide aid to many of the children living in that town.
No strangers to Kenya, with a combined 11 visits between them since 2009, Babson and Satterlee were greatly impacted after their first visit to Africa several years ago, and eventually partnered with Covenant Church in Shepherdstown to start the grassroots organization, 29:11 Inc. in February of 2013.
The Hope Project is a flagship program of 29:11 Inc., providing meals and soap to 100 to 200 street kids weekly in Kakamega, and on special occasions, clothing, toiletries, shoes and minor medical care.
“The kids we minister to are so poor and feel invisible, neglected,” Satterlee said. “They are proud of themselves when they can wash with soap or brush their teeth—even if they are using dirty water.”
In addition to its United States board of directors, 29:11 Inc. has a board of advisors in Kenya made up of local pastors, orphanage directors, business men and youth who are active in the community.
Victorine Odundo, director of Victorious Childrens’ Home in Kakamega, serves as an advisor. Prior to starting the orphanage, Odundo would give bread and juice to the local street kids on special occasions. Now her home has over 60 children who are thriving due to regular meals, a roof over their heads, a good education and a sense of family.
Many are not as fortunate, however. Children in Kenya find themselves on the streets due to severe poverty, neglect, illness or abuse in the home. Some are sent to the streets to try to scrape together some sort of food or income. Still others are sold by their parents to brothels, or they are tricked and enslaved by adults promising a better life.
The children struggle to maintain the most basic existence and spend their days finding casual work wherever they can—the dump, shining shoes, washing window screens, or pick-pocketing and begging from morning until night.
Most of the children take drugs to deal with the violence of the streets and to stave off hunger pains.
The staff and partners of 29:11 Inc. see the potential in all these children. All they need is some help and someone to listen to them.
“There’s a world of difference between the lives of kids there and our lives here in the U.S.” Babson said. “Unless you’ve seen it first hand, it can be hard to grasp.”
Organizers at 29:11 Inc. have a long term vision of helping impoverished children wherever there is a need world-wide.
In the near future, they hope to build a community center with a small medical clinic in Kakamega, where impoverished parents can learn essential life skills to try to earn a better living for their families. The community center would also provide a safe environment for the kids and help tend to minor medical needs.
“We want to teach them to fish, instead of giving them a fish, in a manner of speaking,” said 29:11 Inc. secretary, Kara Fisher. “It’s important to provide them with skills that will make a difference in their lives.”
“We are so grateful for the community support here,” said Satterlee. “The kids from the Upward sports programs [at Covenant Church] donate their briefly used jerseys after each season, and the kids donate change to help with the shipping costs to send items to Kenya.”
Fisher added, “My kids are thrilled to be able to donate when they can. They love knowing that they are helping make a difference.”
In addition to the trip next month, the 29:11 Inc. group plans to take a larger number people to Kenya, including families and some of the youth at Covenant, in the summer of 2016.
More information about this ministry, including the options for monetary donations, can be found on the web at www.hopeof2911.org.