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Bukati: Donation makes huge impact on AIDS orphans in African community

Helping others - Katie Rose (left) president of the Centre Wellington Interact Club presents a $500 cheque to Cate Dewey, involved with Children of Bukati since 2006, and Ron MacKinnon, past president of the Fergus Elora Rotary Club.  photo by Mike Robinson

Bukati: Donation makes huge impact on AIDS orphans in African community

by Mike Robinson

FERGUS - A donation of $500 from the Centre Wellington Interact Club will have an international impact.

The donation goes to support Children of Bukati - its mission - to help AIDS orphans go to school - and beyond.

When Dr. Cate Dewey visited Western Kenya in February 2006 on a livestock research project, she saw first hand the tragedy caused by disease as well as the generosity of impoverished families who care for one or several orphans.

Many orphans were not attending school because their guardians, who live on less than one dollar a day, could not afford the uniform and pencil for each child.

On returning to Canada, Dewey, her family and friends established Children of Bukati to raise funds to send AIDS orphans to school.

Ron MacKinnon, past president of Fergus Elora Rotary Club explained the Interact Club changes a little bit each year, just like the Rotary Club.

Interact provides an opportunity for young people to join together to tackle the issues in their community that they care most about whether it be hands-on service projects, developing international connections or developing leadership skills.

MacKinnon said that last year a colleague of Dewey’s did a slide presentation on the work being done in Kenya.

MacKinnon said one of the ideas behind Children of Bukati is that “if society is to advance, everybody needs to be able to go to school.”

The charity raises funds so that children not only have the uniforms required to attend school, but can do things to strengthen the villages such as build wells or replace contaminated wells.

“In Canada we almost take it for granted that everyone can go to school. The students (here) felt that was a good connection and they wanted to be a part of helping those children (in Bukati) go to school.”

Katie Rose, president of the Centre Wellington Interact Club noted that members held various fundraisers including a community barbecue and a booth outside the Zehrs supermarket in Fergus.

Dewey said “I particularly think it is wonderful to have youth in Canada helping youth in Kenya.”

She said the project has grown to be able to help three schools, as compared to the single school which the program began with.

“In the communities where we are functioning, there are no AIDS orphans not going to school anymore.”

Dewey said the organization helps to provide a lunch program at the schools, so they are able to eat when they go to school, which helps attract them into coming to school.

There is also a safe well at each of the three schools, Dewey said.

“That water not only provides safe water for the schools, but for the community. The children actually carry containers to school and carry the water home.”

Dewey said programs at each of the school compounds helps through the garden and crops raised.

The gardens not only generate food to eat, but products to sell - such as piglets, lambs and chickens.

“The first school sponsored is now self-sufficient and we are no longer needing to provide money for that school.”

She anticipated the second school started in 2010 probably has another full year before it becomes self-sufficent.

“This is really progressing in a positive way. There have been a lot of spinoff benefits from this project.”

Dewey added a community survey indicated that residents there believe the project has increased food security, not only because the children are eating at school, but because farmers are adopting better farming techniques and making more food from their own farms.

She added the plan is that each school would be supported by Canadian funds for six years.

She said one of the key aspects of the program was to connect Canadians with needy Kenyans in a way that they could help in whatever way they were able.

“I was so excited when (MacKinnon) decided to bring this idea to the high school because it is by telling the story that Canadians can get involved.”

Rose said, “This sounds like you have a fantastic program. I think one of the most important things is seeing that the (sponsored) schools are now self-sufficent - that we can get them on their feet and they can build up from there.”

Dewey said that when she met those involved it was stressed that this was a six-year commitment.

“We said we would do everything possible within those six years to help them reach that goal.”

“The school children are responsible for doing all that work, so they are learning about farming and take the skills home with them.”

“In Kenya the cost of education can be quite high.”

For more information on Children of Bukati contact Cate Dewey at cdewey@uoguelph.ca, www.childrenofbukati.com or call 519-856-2301.

May 23, 2014

 
 

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