Quarters for Kenya helps orphans
Quarters for Kenya honors the memory of Rotarian Charles Kean (right) who died of a bacterial infection of the blood in 2004. Bottom: students at an orphanage in Sigona, Kenya. Photos courtesy of David Armstrong
A project begun by a Rotarian to honor the memory of his friend is now helping Kenyan orphans who've lost their parents to AIDS.
David Maupin, a member of the Rotary Club of Redlands, California, USA, launched Quarters for Kenya in the spring of 2004 to honor the memory of his friend and fellow Rotarian Charles Kean, who died that year of a bacterial infection of the blood.
The project helps raise funds to build orphanages in Kenya through The Shepherd's Homes. Donations have helped feed, house, and educate orphans in the small town of Gilgil, a suburb of Nairobi where Kean went to primary school, and in nearby Sigona.
The project is sponsored by the Rotary clubs of Downey, Redlands, Redlands Sunrise, and San Bernardino Crossroads, California, USA. In addition, students from local elementary schools and universities in California raise money for the orphanages through various fundraisers.
Maupin modeled his project after Joseph Pulitzer's Pennies for Liberty campaign to bring the Statue of Liberty from France to the United States in the 1880s. He reasoned a quarter, with inflation, was the current equivalent of Pulitzer's penny, and set out to raise $250,000, quarter by quarter.
Students became involved in the drive when a five-year-old agreed to raise $50 in exchange for having his name painted on a Cessna that Maupin chartered for a fundraising flight to Kenya. The boy's teacher took notice, and began planning fundraisers at his school.
Global business professor Jack Osborn, a member of the Redlands club and a friend of Kean, also introduced the program to his students at the University of Redlands.
Four years later, a Quarters for Kenya group on the campus is almost entirely student-run and has raised more than $35,000. David Armstrong, who co-led the group with Kaitlin Moore in 2007-08, spent two weeks visiting the orphanages.
"They're so happy to be where they are, with the shelter they have and the love they're given," he says. "They're living comfortably and safely and are given a high-quality education. That makes every ounce of effort worthwhile."
Rotarians and Redlands students have worked side by side on the project. Students have held silent auctions, benefit concerts, and forums with local AIDS experts. Rotarians have used their connections to secure large raffle prizes. Maupin and Armstrong have visited church groups, Kiwanis clubs, women’s groups, high schools, and universities seeking donations.
"Students can reach a different type of people than Rotarians can," said Moore. "Maybe they don't have the money that Rotarians do, but now Quarters for Kenya is recognized by the Redlands community."
"It’s a fantastic tribute to Charles," says his widow, Susan. "He would be amazed. It wouldn't have occurred to him that people would be working so hard in his name."
Find more on Quarters for Kenya or make a donation at www.quartersforkenya.org .