I don’t often try to influence my friend’s or acquaintences gift or charitable contributions, but I was recently asked — and agreed — to join the four person Board of Director’s of the UWEZA Aid Foundation, a small USA-registered 503(c)3) non-profit registered in the State of Illinois, that supports various programs for women and children in the Kibera “slum” neighborhood near Nairobi, Kenya. Uweza has a gift catalog of hand crafted one-of-a-kind beaded bracelets made by a group of women ($8- $20) residents of Kibera and paintings by students ($40 – $55) and their Uweza art instructor Joseph Wanderi ($50-$100). Prices include free shipping and a gift card about Uweza and its programs.
The on-line catalogue can be found by clicking here for a direct connection to the Uweza website. That link will also provide tabs for additional information about “Our Work” and “About Uweza” for further information (the “about Uweza – Our Team” tab has just been redesigned a few days ago and I clearly need to send them a better picture of myself).
All money received for purchases from the “shop” are divided between the individual producer or artist and programs that directly support UWEZA programs that support women and children in Kibera, including an after-school program, soccer club, school tuition, book, and uniform scholarships, and a counseling initiative for at-risk and troubled youth based on a philosophy of providing resources to implement the local residents own ideas and initiatives as “investment” in local talent, life-skills, and emotional and psychological well being rather than as “charity.”
However, most of the revenue received to support these programs is from a narrow group of family and friends of our Founder and current Board Chair Rooney Mara — a somewhat unstable basis for ensuring the financial sustainability of Uweza’s programs and those who depend on them. So this is partly my attempt to initiate a process to increase the number of “smaller” contributions rather continuing to rely on a very few relatively large donations (however steady those large contributions have been over the last several years).
I am sending this to a short list of family, friends and acquaintances that might be interested. Please forgive me for this direct solicitation. I promise not to make a habit of it.
Happy Holidays, Jerry