I posted a few times about my adventures working on a sustainable agriculture project in Kenya this summer. You can find the posts here, here, here, and here.
I also talked about how I felt a desire to help some of the people I met there in a post for the Kindness Project in October.
I wanted to end with an update on the two packages I sent.
Package number one was filled with fabric and sent to a rural school for seamstresses. When I met them I learned that they had no fabric to work with and instead used paper bags to sew (which in turn damaged their machines).
Package number two included mini-soccer balls, yarn (at their request, for making crafts to sell) and school supplies for the orphanage.
Together, sending the packages cost me about $90.00 USD, which is especially costly considering they each contained less than $20.00 worth of goods. So, in essence, the bulk of my "gift" was spent on getting the items to the recipients.
And I wasn't even sure they would receive the packages in whole.
I was happy to hear about 4-6 weeks later that both friends had received the boxes. I was sad to learn that both had to pay a fee to pick up the items (around $10.00 USD, not exorbitant by our standards, but a big deal for them). They were thankful to get the goods but I was a little heartsick to think that I'd spent so much time and effort with relatively little "bang" for my buck.
With Christmas approaching I was hoping to do something else for them. But I was feeling frustrated about the constraints of budget, time, and postage.
So, I contacted my friends and asked them candidly if I could send them a small amount of money through Western Union. They said that would be fine. It was much easier (it arrived the same day I sent it), convenient (they could pick it up at any Western Union location in their region), and the fees were small (between $5-10).
So, for me, this was a workable solution. But at the same time I can't recommend it to others. I feel comfortable because I have met these people, I have seen their school and orphanage, I have met the children they work with. I trust them.
That being said, the school is not technically a non-profit, it's just a rural school without a lot of funds. The orphanage is a non-profit... but it doesn't have anything like a secure website that would allow interested parties to support them. So in many ways I feel like my hands are tied in terms of taking this to the next level.
Since you've been following my relationship with these groups in Kenya via the blog, I wanted to post an update and let you know how it had all worked out!
I guess the short story is: Like a lot of things in life, it's complicated!
But it was wonderful to touch base with my friends-- I had nice notes from both of them thanking me for the gifts, which was really cool.