October 03, 2016
It is not rare for an American student to graduate from middle school to high school at a free, public institution. It is the norm for many students, a practice that they don’t have to think twice about.
But that’s not always the case for children in other countries such as Kenya.
On Oct. 15, the UCCS men’s and women’s cross country teams will host the fourth annual Kenyan Dinner Night. The event, held at Redeemer Lutheran Church, will provide an authentic Kenyan dinner and raise money and awareness for education in Kenya.
UCCS students can buy tickets for $10 at the door.
The dinner is prepared by Kenyan citizens living in Colorado Springs. A raffle and an auction for two running singlets signed by Olympic athletes will also be part of the fundraiser, which the teams hope will raise $5,000 this year.
After returning from a trip to Kenya in 2002, the cross country teams at UCCS created the Harambee Foundation to host fundraisers like these.
The nonprofit organization’s mission is to is help impoverished children from Kaptagat, Kenya, which will create more educational opportunities, according to Alyssa Wendt, event coordinator. Eight people on the board of elders in Kenya, and 15 cross country runners are currently part of the organization.
Wendt said that the foundation has expanded with another chapter at the Colorado Christian University.
The dinner is the foundation’s biggest fundraiser of the year, according to Wendt.
“I think people should go because it is a fun way to experience a new culture, they get to try authentic Kenyan food and drinks made by actual Kenyans in the community.” Students should attend to experience a different culture that they may not have been exposed to before.
“It’s a really great opportunity for fellowship and community with other students here and athletes on campus.”
Students in Kenya must pay $500 a year to attend high school, but families typically live off of $7 a week, said Wendt. Over the last four years, 47 children in Kenya were sponsored to go to high school through the Harambee Foundation.
“We really are making a huge difference out there; 47 kids are going to school who wouldn’t have had the opportunity otherwise,” said Wendt.
Junior accounting major and men’s cross country runner David Kimaiyo was born and raised in Kaptagat and is an active member of the foundation. After he graduated high school, he decided that he wanted to study abroad.
In 2012, he met with the UCCS cross country team who were visiting Kenya. Kimaiyo received a scholarship at UCCS in July 2014.
“This foundation worked very closely with my village and I was able to get involved while I still lived in Kenya,” said Kimaiyo.
After visiting his home over the summer, Kimaiyo believes fundraisers like these are already impacting education opportunities in Kenya.
“This really is eye-opening thing to them because so many wouldn’t know where they would be if it wasn’t for this foundation,” said Kimaiyo.
“With the access to a high school education, that is a life-changing opportunity and for (the kids in Kenya) it’s like the best thing they will get in life.”
To find out more about the Harambee Foundation and the Kenyan Dinner Night, or to buy your tickets for the event, visit pulltogetherforkenya.org/dinnernight.