Luncheon Benefits Organizations in Kenya

OWU students, professors join forces to help Kenyan people

DeLaine Mayer ’12 teaches English and basic letter recognition to Kenyan children. (Photo courtesy of DeLaine Mayer ’12)

Ohio Wesleyan hosted a luncheon on November 16, to benefit two Kenyan organizations. OWU seniors DeLaine Mayer and Celeste Taylor spearheaded the event.

The luncheon benefited the Akili Dada organization and the Changamwe school and orphanage located outside of Mombasa.  Akili Dada was co-founded by OWU Professor Ashley Biser.  The fundraiser is House of Peace and Justice member, Taylor’s house project. Her housemate, Mayer, visited the orphanage this past summer with another OWU student and Professor Ali Skandor. The proceeds of the luncheon will be split between the two organizations.

Mayer and Megan Bachelder ‘13 worked at the Changamwe orphanage for three weeks, as part of an OWU theory-to practice project. They fundraised before the trip and were able to make many donations to the school, including furniture and school supplies.

“The appreciation we received from the children, teachers, and orphanage caretakers was overwhelming. But we knew we couldn’t leave without agreeing to help more,” she says.

“Our goal is to make the orphanage into a Non-Government Organization (NGO) and create a sustainable relationship between Ohio Wesleyan and Kenya. Ohio Wesleyan is dedicated to service work and community building, and the University’s support for our program has been great. We hope to return to Kenya next summer with $15,000 to provide access to clean water, set up indoor plumbing, purchase new mattresses, and improve the overall structure of the orphanage while providing the children with a space to do work and further their education,” says Mayer.

Taylor learned of the Akili Dada organization from Biser on a recent travel-learning trip to Greece.

“I was really excited to get involved once we were back on campus,” Taylor says. “Akili Dada is helping young Kenyan women reach their full potential, and I think the effects of this are going to benefit Kenya as a whole. Knowing that a professor I very much respect is involved with the organization is one reason I’m motivated to become personally involved. I can rest easy knowing that any money we raise is going to an honest cause.”

Biser, who teaches politics and government classes, co-founded Akili Dada in 2005. Of the organization, she says, “Essentially, our organization was conceived as a way to ensure that young women from underprivileged backgrounds could gain access to leadership positions in Kenya.  To do so, we target our interventions at high school-age girls who, without our support, would be forced out of school and into early marriages and the low-wage workforce. Although the Kenyan education system is publicly funded up through eighth grade and there are fellowship opportunities available for university study, there is a severe drop in the number of girls who make it through high school, because they are unable to pay the school fees.  We work with those girls to ensure that they can continue their educations and become leaders in Kenyan society.”

For more information or to get involved, email Taylor at lctaylor@owu.edu.

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