News From Kenya

highfiveI just got an email update from Duncan.  He reports that Saline is doing well and will also be beginning her next school session this week.  It is with much pride that I can report that we now have nine (9) 5000 litre clean water collection tanks in place, 214 solar lamps and an active self-sustaining sewing program that has produced over 200 school uniforms.  This was all made possible by your generous donations.

The Smile Rescue Fund for Kids has grown into a grass roots charity that is now screening additional children with facial deformities to bring here for corrective surgery.

We can use your help, every few dollars helps.   Click here to make your tax-deductible donation.

 

Saline is Going Home….

SalineIt is with mixed emotions that I write this post. It has been one year since Saline stepped off the plane at JFK with a small bundle of her belongings in her hands and hope in her eyes. She had her face covered to avoid attracting attention as she held Duncan’s hand. That day she began a journey that would change her life and that of those that know her as well.

On the one hand I am so happy and grateful that with the help of Dr. Alexander Dagum and his colleagues from Stony Brook University Children’s Hospital, Saline had the large hole in her face repaired and now has  a new palate to separate her mouth from her new nose.  She is less prone to infection and can speak clearly.  However, perhaps as importantly, she has her self-image restored. She now walks with her head held high and a smile on her face. I’m happy that a little girl with little hope now has a chance to live a productive life with the chance to achieve her dreams and aspirations. I’m grateful that because of the help of our generous donors and supporters, she will return to a village with cleaner water to drink, solar lighting instead of darkness and expanded educational opportunities (see previous blog). I’m equally grateful for the opportunity Saline has given us back here in our village and the many lives she has affected.

However, there is also sadness in seeing her leave. After living here for a year, it will not be easy for her to go back to her village. Although we’re doing our best to look out for her, of course we’re all concerned about her future. At the same time, we are very fortunate to have Duncan and his family to watch over her, which fills us all with hope and gratitude. I’m very happy to report that funding has been secured for her to attend a private boarding school.  There, she will receive regular meals, a bed to sleep on and the opportunity to receive a good education.

The challenge now is for Saline to take everything she’s learned, and been given, and harness it to make a future for herself. I know I speak for all of us when I say that we wish her all the best of luck, and that she will be in our thoughts and prayers.

Good luck Saline, we have done everything we could have done. The rest is up to you.

Leon

P.S.  At SRFK, we believe that every child deserves a chance.  Our moto is “one child at a time”.  We are currently in contact with a number of peace corp volunteers around the globe.  Depending on donations, we will begin working to help another child soon.  There are over 4 million children waiting for corrective facial surgery worldwide.  Although our work has just begun, we have cause for celebration – one down.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments or suggestions.  Just click here and see “Reply” box below article.


Mission Accomplished – Thank You Letter From Duncan

wheelchairI am happy to report to you that we have now received all the items that you helped raise funds to buy. The last bit, the wheelchairs, was not easy because of the many hurdles the transporter lay on our way and it made me take such a long time that caused a lot of inconveniences to all. We’ve had to postpone the dispatch for quite a long time due to problems caused by other people who wanted to serve their own unjustified interests. All that aside, I am grateful on behalf of my community.

  1. 82 solar lanterns
  2. Tailoring project has begun producing uniforms
  3. (7) wheelchairs on site to help those in need
  4. (7) 5000 ltr water tanks on site for clean drinking water

I have spent this night in Migori trying to send you some pictures but connection is very poor, I pray all will be well. Meanwhile, bravely pass my sincere gratitude to all who helped mobilize for funds, donated and sacrificed their time.

Above all you, we thank you and your family for the self denial and being selfless, you are a blessing. Despite Saline being your main focus to date, you have done this and may our Lord give you life and strength to help others. Thank you so much.  I hope to give you a comprehensive report on what we have so far done soon.

Duncan

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” –Nelson Mandela

For those of you who have followed the journey of Saline, you know that while she is here in America, receiving life changing surgeries, she has also sparked in everyone an urgency to bring Light, Educational Support, and Clean Water to her village.

There has been great progress in all of these areas.   Today we have received pictures from Duncan.  There are children who were are not able to physically move around due to physical and mental handicaps.  The Educational committee under the charge of Diane Knobloch (a Math Teacher in Long Island’s Brentwood School District,) has been able to raise funds via several initiatives.  The money will be used to purchase wheel chairs, the wheel chairs will allow these children to integrate into their school and receive an education.

In addition, the committee funded the purchasing of material so that school uniforms (a requirement to attend school) can be made at the school.  This allows children to learn to sew, a marketable trade.   It allows uniforms to be priced more reasonably, this will sustain the purchasing of more fabric to keep the program going.

Holiday Message From Duncan – Clean Water and Sewing Projects Underway- Solar Next!

Smile Rescue Fund for Kids On The Move
Message from Duncan:
I am happy to inform you that I placed an order for seven plastic water tanks of 5000 litres each yesterday. They are to be delivered on 30th Dec,2013 because they only had three in stock. There is some little money left on this which I intend to divert to buy an additional sewing machine for the tailoring project. I will furnish you with full information once all these are done.
I will buy materials on Friday,this week,after Christmas.kindly extend my Christmas greetings to all our friends and those who have continued to support us. May the same go to Saline, host families, Coolsmiles staff and SBUH staff who take care of Saline’s medical issues. I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas.
Duncan

Farewell Message from Duncan……

I would have loved to see the sweet beginning of Saline’s much anticipated smile which also marks the end of the journey we have traveled for the last four years on a very rough and painful road,i have to leave since it is unavoidable .  Out of nothing and without any ray of hope,we started and stumbled.Little did we know that at some point God would bond us with selfless,loving and generous people who have now seen us this far.

On behalf of Saline,her mom,relatives,school community,friends,neighbors,my family and myself,i thank you all most sincerely.You denied yourselves and sacrificed to see her smile and integrate socially in the society.You’ve, indeed,inculcated in me values i would cherish for life.It’s great that a young girl like Heather raised funds to help one unfortunate girl from one corner of the world before she even saw her,Valeria of Loretta P.E school, among others, whose passionate efforts to raise funds really touched my heart.
My gratitude goes out to every person who came on board for her sake.I didn’t chance to meet everyone but let me mention a few. Tame’s family, Muller’s family, Nugent’s family, Jennifer’s family, Dr.Dagum and his team,Stony Brook Univ.Hospital, Diane Knoblach/ Loretta P.E School, Smile Rescue Fund For Kids, SmileTrain staff-Kenya, Coolsmiles Orthodontics, Africa project group.
Dr.Leon and his family remain an enigmatic unit,a miracle and a blessing throughout this journey.You have lit up our faces,created a difference in us and I pray you don’t stop with Saline. Many other needy  children are out there  ‘ONE AT A TIME’ and the list will grow.
Many people who know Saline’s journey to the USA ask for and about things not worth mentioning here but all we are pursuing is SALINE’S SMILE,exactly what we’ve been yearning for from the beginning
I appreciate your love,care and concern.Welcome to Kenya and share with us as you serve humanity across the globe.
Duncan

Farewell to Duncan at Emma S. Clark Library in Setauket

A reminder that our Farewell to Duncan gathering is tomorrow night October 25th at 7pm at the Setauket Library: http://www.emmaclark.org/ 

We will be bringing the three committees together to summarize the progress of each initiative (Water, lighting and Education). The goal is to solidify the three action plans and to discuss fund raising goals, opportunities and strategies. Please bring any interested family members and friends, there are truly so many ways that we can use your help! hope to see you there, please spread the word!

Solar Lighting Committee Update

There was a meeting of the electricity committee on 9/26/13.  The goal is to purchase lighting for some of the children’s homes so that they can finish their schoolwork in the evening without using kerosene, which is both dangerous and expensive.  The solar battery life is about five years.  Several committee members had information about different lights available, but of special interest is one company which is located in Nairobi.  This company would deliver the lights to the village.  The cost will be between $10 and $13 for each light.  Several different lights will be purchased before the next meeting so convenience, cost and brightness can be compared.

The first goal will be between 25 and 50d lights depending on cost.  Duncan will determine how the lights are distributed.  He may take 10 of 50 and donate them to families that have the most need.  Perhaps he will charge a $5 fee for the other lights so the monies can be used to purchase more lights.

Next meeting October 25th at the Emma Clarke Library – purchased lights will be compared at that time.  Duncan will attend.

How is Saline? – Observations From Duncan

How is Saline doing?  This is a common question asked by many of us. Not just from a medical perspective, but psychologically as well.  I asked Duncan to provide his observations.  I’m happy to report the following:

“It is a great delight that Saline’s confidence and self-esteem is already evident through her more smiles, more giggles and uncontrolled desire to admire herself in the mirror due to the surgeries so far accomplished – closing her once wide deformed palate and face. She tells me to take her pictures and send to her mother, it is irresistible. What a looming great happiness, more and wider smiles once done! Thanking her friends and generous contributors all the way.”   – Duncan

Water Committee Meeting 9/27- Coolsmiles PJ Office-7pm

The water committee will meet tonight at 7pm at the Coolsmiles Orthodontic office Port Jefferson.

70 North Country Road

Port Jefferson, NY 11777

Call my cell, for directions (631) 974-7511