Spreading hope in Kenya

Suzie Shaw is working hard to improve the lives of orphans in Africa.

Suzie Shaw is collecting a variety of items to send to a Kenyan orphanage in June.

Suzie Shaw is collecting a variety of items to send to a Kenyan orphanage in June.

Suzie Shaw is working hard to improve the lives of orphans in Africa.

The Hope resident has partnered with her sister Sally Gosse and foster niece Lori McBain on Aid for Neema, a project supporting an orphanage and school nestled in the Kenyan mountains 402 kilometres east of Nairobi. Catherine Muthoni Kihiuhi started Neema in 1994 after realizing several of her students needed a home. Rescuing both boys and girls, aged three to 17, the orphanage and school is now home to 172 children who would otherwise be on the street.

“Catherine realized their only hope is in education,” said Shaw. “She has nobody that supports her regularly. She depends totally on volunteers and donations.”

Last fall, Shaw and her sister volunteered at Neema for about a month. The experience left them determined to do even more to help the children.

“The minute I saw those kids, my whole life changed,” said Shaw. “To see all those little faces with no parents, it was truly heartbreaking. They basically have nothing, yet they’re happy and so loving.”

The women are trying to raise enough money to send a shipping container, which will stay in Neema to provide safe food storage.

Shaw and McBain have organized a community dance at the Hope Legion and a family walk/run at Clearbrook Park in Abbotsford on May 5. Proceeds from both events will go towards sending the 40-foot container to Neema filled with school supplies, textbooks, desks for teachers, blankets, shoes, warm clothing and gardening tools.

“Our goal is to teach them to garden and sew so that once they’re done school, they can do something to help sustain themselves,” said Shaw.

For more information about the project or fundraising events, visit aidforneema.ca.