Just One Africa, an international nonprofit works with local leaders in Kenya to provide sustainable solutions for vulnerable children and those affected by the clean water crisis. At the end of 2019, Just One Africa’s goal was to raise money to build a new home for one of their partners in Kenya, Valley Light Home. This new home will be located outside the dangerous “downtown” area and will provide a safe place for 31 precious lives.
In January, a team of three teachers from an Alabama school, Westminster Christian Academy (WCA), joined Just One Africa’s staff on a trip to Kenya. A year ago, this school launched the “Hodi Project ” as an initiative to learn and grow together with Valley Light Home in Mai Mahiu, Kenya. The idea of “Hodi ” was incorporated into the daily lessons in all grades K-12. What is Hodi? Officially it’s a Swahili world that translates a request “to come in”.
Question: “Hodi” – May I come In?
Response: “Karibu” – Welcome
By providing the students an opportunity to become more globally aware, they are learning something that can never be tested by a state standard. These students will learn about their similarities, differences, and about the needs of others on the other side of the world. They will learn about the impact of love and cross-cultural friendship. They will learn about the importance of giving and receiving, and how to be a good global neighbor.
Establishing a relationship between WCA and the staff and students at Valley Light Home began in 2019 through a Mother’s Day activity. Just One Africa hosted a Beads for Water presentation and event with the 4th grade students of Westminster. The students learned about the clean water crisis and the care needed for the community surrounding Valley Light Home. Once the students spent time volunteering in the bead program creating beautiful bracelets, they were provided the opportunity to change the world again through the purchase of those same bracelets as gifts for Mother’s Day. By shopping for good, the entire school community raised enough money to provide over 100 life-saving water filters helping more than 2,500 people have access to clean water in Kenya.
The teachers, who were part of the team visit in January, not only spent time with the students and staff at Valley Light Home, they participated and helped facilitate the water filter distributions in Kenya with Just One Africa. Getting to take part in this community presentation provided the teachers with first hand experience of the impact WCA made through their Mother’s Day shopping on the lives of others!
The WCA team was then invited to join Just One Africa into the field as they conducted the necessary follow up with families from past distributions. The Follow-Up Program is an important part of the overall Clean Water Program for several reasons. The home visit provides an opportunity to build a deeper relationship, time to do a physical check of the water filter, and a conversation to learn how the family’s health has improved and what they are able to do with their money saved from doctors visits. Hodi? Karibu! This exchange can be heard at each visit as the community welcomes the team and shares how their lives have been impacted through the gift of clean water.
When the teachers returned from Kenya in January, they were able to share all they learned with their school community and how lives have changed and families are healthier. By sharing their global experience, the teachers will have the opportunity to help other staff members create age-appropriate activities and provide relevant topics for family discussions in order to grow the connection with Valley Light Home for years to come.
Changing the world can be as easy as getting involved. What are you doing to learn about the impact YOU can make on the world around you? Do you want to create positive change in the lives of your global neighbors in Kenya? Just One Africa believes that it takes JUST ONE person to create change and that JUST ONE person is worth making a difference for.
If you would like to find out more about Just One Africa or would like your school, business, or group to get involved in changing the world, check out the website JustOneAfrica.org.
AMY CHURCHILL, JUST ONE AFRICA – NON-PROFIT EDITOR
Amy has lived in Forsyth County with her husband Clay and their three kids for 17 years. During her kids early teenage years, their family traveled to Kenya over Spring Break with their church. They returned to the U.S. deeply challenged by what they saw and learned but inspired by the amazing people they met. Just a few months later they launched their non-profit, Just One Africa. Their foundational belief if that JUST ONE person can make a difference, and that JUST ONE person is worth making a difference for. Amy loves the opportunities to build relationships with the wonderful local leaders in the Kenyan communities she serves while away from the states. Upon returning to the US, she connects with schools, churches, and businesses to share ways that our local community can change the world for good.
In Kenya, Amy can often be found walking home to home conducting follow up interviews on their Clean Water Program or sitting with the Masai mamas who handmake the paper beads for the world-changing jewelry they offer online or talking with the girls in the rescue program. Coming from a long line of family members who dedicated themselves to caring and serving others, it seems only natural to continue on with the biggest blessing, which is being able to serve together in such significant ways as a family. Seeing how her children have embraced the changes they have made as a family to start up and grow Just One Africa, have been a constant source of inspiration and reinforce that it really does take JUST ONE person to make a difference!