Oklahoma City Woman Raises Funds for Orphaned Kenyans

By Page, David | THE JOURNAL RECORD, August 2, 2007 | Go to article overview

Oklahoma City Woman Raises Funds for Orphaned Kenyans


Page, David, THE JOURNAL RECORD


In late 2004, Beatrice Williamson discovered a problem when she made a call to her mother in Kisumu, Kenya. "I called my mom and could tell everything was not OK," said Williamson, director of the Pamoja International Ministry at Citychurch in Oklahoma City.

Her mother, a schoolteacher in the small village in Kenya where Williamson was raised, said a student had not come to school in several days.

"My mother went to the home to check on her," Williamson said. Both of the girl's parents died of AIDS and she and her brother lived with an uncle. Williamson's mother discovered her student had been injured while collecting firewood for cooking.

"She had a serious leg injury and had not received medical treatment," Williamson said. Amputation of the leg was a possibility. Williamson wired money from Oklahoma City to Kenya so her mother could pay for medical attention for the girl. Her mother's student recovered and the leg was saved.

Wiring the money for medical care was just the beginning for Williamson. In early 2005, she founded Maisha International Orphanage, a nonprofit organization formed in Oklahoma to raise funds to help provide basic needs and necessities for orphaned children in Kisumu.

Through the program started in Oklahoma City in 2005, 22 children aged 4 to 13 are now housed by Williamson's mom in the village and 100 children receive at least one meal each day and three meals each Saturday. The injured girl and her brother were instrumental in the program's growth.

After the girl's leg healed, Williamson said her mother realized the student and her brother were not receiving proper care from the uncle. Williamson's mother invited the girl and her brother to stop at her home on the way to school each day for breakfast and after school to study.

They started bringing friends.

"One morning my mom woke up and 19 children were in her yard waiting for breakfast," Williamson said.

The children needed more than food.

"Many of them did not have a place to stay," Williamson said.

Some of the children in the village lost one or both parents to AIDS, she said.

Her mother receives help from within the village. Volunteers cook for the children and sew clothes.

"My mom got volunteers to help her feed the children," Williamson said. "Many of the volunteers are widows with children." Money for the orphanage is now provided by the nonprofit formed in Oklahoma City. On months when money is short, Citychurch often helps out.

Maisha also seeks monthly pledges to support the orphanage. …

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