Friday, March 09, 2007

What is ....

I have been asked about some of my micro loan projects by various friends and blog readers. I have been touched and overwhelmed by the desire to help. I have been putting off giving the info because I am involved in starting up a new charity so that we can better supervise these projects and also to be able to provide thorough follow up. The goal was to have the website up a long time ago so that I could direct you to that. Things never happen as quickly as we would like and we had another deadline of today to have it live. That isn't going to happen. We have high hopes that it will be up in the next week. I will put it on my sidebar and I welcome ANY and all donations and help in generating support for these projects. Here is a little bit of info on the projects. If you or your family, or your church group or school are interested in sponsoring one of these projects and you want more information than is on this post, please send an e mail to me at rebeccakbingham at yahoo dot com. Also, understand that these projects are just the product of myself and Suchi. We are doing the best we can to make sure that we are providing sustainable income and strongly discourage handouts.

What is Jacob's Oven?

The oven project was started by my good friend Justus Suchi Obidah. He is the Kenyan director of Reach the Children in Nairobi. He is also the religious leader of a congregation in Nairobi. He wanted to provide a way for women in his area to be able to earn a sustainable income. The goal was to provide a charcoal burning oven for the women of the area (not just church members) to use to bake goods that they would then sell in the market. The women provide their own fuel and batter. The oven is housed in the church building where it can be locked up and protected. Many of these women don't have homes large enough to accommodate such a piece of equipment or the means to keep it safe. I love that this project helps them not only be self sufficient but more efficient when they do it. All the have to do is sign up for a time to use the oven. It has been running day and night since we got it. I call this project "Jacob's Oven" because I bought the first one in honor of my son, Jacob.
We want to build more. The total cost of the oven (including having it transported and set up in the church) is 350$. You send your money directly to Reach the Children and you can get a tax deduction for the donation. You also can name the oven if you want. We have an agreement with the LDS Church in that region that they will allow the ovens to be housed in their permanent buildings. All the women of the area will have access to it during the week, provided that they sign up for a time slot. This is a great and easy way to provide sustainable income. We will provide a follow up report at least once a year to let you know how it has been going and who is using the oven. Here are some pictures of my last report.

The oven

The molds for the cakes

This is where they burn the fuel

Making the batter

The finished product

What is the Bike Project?

This is another collaboration of Suchi and myself that Reach the Children has agreed to oversee. Currently, Suchi and I are doing this as a pilot program (and we don't have a name yet, so let me know if you can think of one). If it is successful (and we hope it will be) the new charity will take it over and totally oversee it. The goal will be to offer the bikes to families that have orphans in their home. We want to provide incentive to these families to take in the local vulnerable children and orphans and give them enough income to help these kids stay in school. In our pilot group there are many families that have opened their homes to children that no longer have a family. There are also some families that haven't done that yet, but that have a goal to do so in the future. Finances are often a factor in why familes that want to take in extra kids don't. If you don't have enough food for your own family, it is not likely you will bring more people into the home. Our goal is to provide them enough extra income from the bikes to make it possible for them to help out more of the children in their community.

For the pilot program, Suchi has identified and screened 30 families in one of the poorest communities in Kenya (and that is saying something). The bikes will provide income for the family in two ways. The bike can be used as a "taxi" or to do deliveries. They can make up to three dollars a day doing that. It also gives them transportation for kids to to go school and to provide easier and faster access to the family farm plot, which is usually located several miles outside of town. The family can grow food for themselves and to sell in this plot. Many hours are wasted walking to and from the plot. The bike will not only help them be more efficient with their time, but it will allow them to harvest and transport more of the food because it can be transported between the plot and the home in larger quantities.

A local market in Uganda

Each bike costs 60$ (this includes transport and administration fees). When you sponsor a bike you will get a picture of the family that you are helping and an update on them once a year. I have a whole file full of pictures and descriptions of the families but it was sent to me from Africa in some kind of program that I can open with Word, but I can't copy or export the pictures to post here. I can send you the file if you want to see it.

We have about half of the bikes purchased and are eager to find sponsors for the other half so we can get this pilot program off the ground.

Thanks for your interest and we hope to work with some of you soon.


Lyle said...

One of the cool things I liked about US Synthetic when I worked for them was their involvement with these types of projects. They are big sponsers of CHOICE Humanitarian and founders of Yehu Microfinance [both of which I had the great opportunity of assisting]. The support these types of groups are able to offer is amazing [which fits well cause the women in Kenya are also amazing].

Best of luck with your charitable work.

Gretchen said...

Bek--this is wonderful work. Such a tangible way to touch someone's life. I would love to help. I'm not finding a link to your email, though...can you let me know more about the bike program? gretchenkits at gmail dot com. Thanks!

Mariah said...

I would love to get some sponsers for you but I can not find a link to an email address for you either. Can you give me an email address to get information about the bike program as well? Thank you!

Leisha said...

I am blown away in admiration...I will spread the word.

Syd said...

You're awesome. I can't wait to help out. Thanks Bek, for being one of those amazing people that make it possible for all of us to help others. You're great. :)

Haley said...

Bek, so awesome! My family wants to help.. I will email you or get in touch with me!

trudy said...

Hi Bek, I've just read ALL your blogs/posts back to back over the last two days & am hooked. You're so incredibly funny, honest & wise all at once. Hubby & I are Welsh & Irish based in London UK & are on the long British road to adopting from Ethiopia. We just got back from New Year in Kenya & would love to know more about how we could help with the bike program...

T x

Traci Bayley said...

I came across you blog through someone else's and yes I will admitt, I am a Lurker!!!
Anyways, these wonderful projects you are involved with are just great. I too would like more info about the bike program.
Please e-mail me at
Thanks and keep up the good work!! Your kids are adorable too!