Mwangaza Children’s Home
With 30 orphans fast approaching high school age the Mwangaza Children’s Foundation is asking area runners to help its children further their education.
Founded six years ago to support 40 young orphans, Mwangaza’s mission was to take care of the children, then mostly under the age of ten, until a more permanent solution could be worked out. Chairman Matt Schafer said it didn’t work out that way.
“Somewhere along the line we became the permanent solution, and so we have to build a bigger and better organization,” Schafer said. “The problem is in Kenya nothing is free, including the public schools. We have built a school that we can send the kids to, but we still need to pay tuition for the high school kids while maintaining the K8 program we’ve built.”
The 5K is the organization’s first major public event, and all the funds raised will be used for the educational needs of the growing children. Schafer said the proceeds would be used to pay for tuition, books and the teacher’s salaries as well as improving facilities on site.
Registration costs $25 in advance and $30 on the day of the run, April 5th, at Yellow River Park on Juhan Road in south Gwinnett County, near Snellville and Stone Mountain.
“It’s really a great place to run,” event organizer Kalyn Conner said. “It’s a wooded trail that’s fairly flat and almost completely shaded. Also, only one exit up from Stone Mountain, so it’s really easy to get to.”
Conner is asking for people to register before March 18, so that they can ensure that everyone can receive a shirt. Schafer said that almost all of the funds raised will go to support the orphanage.
“We’re a very small organization and none of us get paid, so we have very little overhead,” he said. “Basically everyone who registers supports one of our kids for one month. I know people like giving to larger, more established organizations, but when you give to small organizations like ours your money makes a much bigger impact.”
Mwangaza means “Light” in Kiswahili, which is one of the two official languages of Kenya. The Mwangaza Children’s foundation was founded in 2007, and received its 501c3 designation in 2009. With a yearly budget of approximately $8,000 it has managed to provide a home to 40 orphans and a school for an additional 70 children.
The organization’s long term goals is to expand to neighboring areas and assist in providing HIV care to its orphans and the surrounding tribes.
“This was not something I initially wanted to do,” Schafer said. “As soon as I took responsibility for the orphanage the first thing I did was try to give it away to another organization. The problem is we were too small and too remote for any of the international agencies to take over. So we stepped in, and have been taking care of the kids for seven years now. Somewhere along the way this became our life’s work.”