Christmas Dinner for families at Manjani Mingi

Most of you who either know me personally or who have read this blog for a while know about my connection with Kenya. Seven years ago I left my marketing job, packed my bags and journeyed to Nairobi where I … Continue reading

A Small Act

A few months back, my Aunt Jan told me about this documentary and I put it in my Netflix queue.  Since then, I’d forgotten about it until it arrived last week.  A Small Act tells the true story of a Kenyan man named Chris and the woman in Sweden, Hilde, who sponsored his education through a sponsorship program.  As a result of Hilde’s small act many years ago, Chris decides to start a sponsorship program in her name to assist other bright children from needy families.  The film is beautifully shot and the stories of Kimani, Ruth and Caroline, three hopeful students vying for the scholarship, is told against the backdrop of the election violence that took place in Kenya in 2007 and 2008.


In so many ways Chris’ story reminds me of my dear friend, Irene Wairimu.  Like Chris, Irene came from a needy family in the same area and relied upon well wishers and sponsors to pay for her education through high school.  Like Chris, Irene has taken this one step further and has dedicated her life to helping needy Kenyans through VICDA.  Time and time again, Irene has told me, “Jenni, education is the only way to break the cycle of poverty in these villages.  Without education no one can move forward and the desperation continues.”  When she first moved to Nairobi and worked as a house girl Irene would set aside a portion of her very small income and sponsor the education of her siblings and members of her community in Central Provence.  As Hilde points out in the film, she didn’t have much but it just felt normal to donate what she had to a child.

I highly recommend this film to anyone who is or ever has sponsored a child.  Education is so important, especially in developing countries, and sponsoring a child really is a small act that can have an enormous influence on their life.  If you are looking for a child to sponsor, I recommend checking out VICDA’s Child Sponsorship page.

Medical Center Ground Breaking!

Very exciting news recently arrived from Kenya… The long awaited Medical Center at Giwa Farm has finally broken ground!  Please read Irene’s account to learn more about the joyous day and to see a few photographs.  Giwa Farm is home to about 3,500 IDP’s (Internally Displaced People) near Rongai, Kenya who were resettled last year by the Kenyan government.  With the help of donors, VICDA was able to complete an elementary school on the property earlier this year and the Medical Center is their newest efforts to better the lives of the Giwa residents.


Irene: A True Inspiration

VICDA’s Fearless Leader – Irene Wairimu Ngatia
I’ve been really excited lately.  I’m talking seven-years-old on Christmas morning excited.  As you can gather from previous posts, I’m heading back to Kenya at the end of August for a couple of months and this time I’m bringing a group of friends from Chicago along with me.  The plans for the trip are going really well and the “Wazungu Crew” are all really excited and anxious to get to Kenya and get to work.  I love introducing friends from different parts of my life to one another and I cannot wait to introduce my Chicago friends to my Kenya friends.  Namely the lovely lady seen above, Irene – or Mama Matatu as I’ve recently begun calling her.  Irene’s contagious laugh, memorable one-liners and undying loyalty are just a part of what makes her remarkable.

With VICDA sponsored kids at Bethel Outreach in Kibera
Irene is the director of VICDA, the program in which I volunteered in 2006 and 2007.  She is a true inspiration to me and many others and has been instrumental in making a positive difference in the lives of Kenyans from every walk of life.  From the old and sick to the young and orphaned, and everyone in between, Irene has truly touched hearts, changed lives and given hope.  Please visit her blog and her website or follow her on twitter @vicda to learn more about VICDA’s efforts and to see how you can get involved.