Durham group to celebrate 15-year partnership with African orphanage

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DURHAM — Friends of Kakamega will hold a dinner on Saturday, Sept. 30 to celebrate 15 years of their partnership with the Kakamega Orphans Care Center in Kenya.

The dinner will take place at the Durham Friends Meetinghouse at 532 Quaker Meetinghouse Road and feature food, drinks, and a slide presentation following the dinner showing how the Care Centre Project has grown and how it is moving forward over the next 15 years.

The meal costs $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and teens, and $6 for children. According to Friends of Kakamega founder Sukie Rice, the dinner raised about $1,000 last year for the care center.

Rice and her friends Molly Dupliseia-Palmer and Sharon Salmon met the care center’s founder and director, Dorothy Selebwa, in 2002, at a Quaker meeting and knew they wanted to work with the care center in some way.

Selebwa and a group of Quaker women in Kakamega had previously been preparing meals for orphans every Sunday, but as more and more children began showing up, Selebwa knew they needed to do more.

Friends of Kakamega began by fundraising in the U.S. to build the care center.

Today, they support over 250 students, a number that’s grown 40 percent in the last five years. About 48 children live at the care center, while the rest are under a “home-based program” – which means sponsors in the U.S. help provide cash stipends for the children and their guardians so they can provide care.

John Chisholm, of Freeport, has been a Friends of Kakamega volunteer and child sponsor for about 14 years and was hired this year as the care center’s finance and operations manager.

“It has become more than just an orphan care organization,” Chisholm said. Since 2002, over 90 of the center’s children have graduated from high school and 24 from college or university.

Each year, Rice, Chisholm, and about 10 other volunteers and sponsors spend about a week in August in Kakamega visiting with the children and deciding what’s needed at the center and how to allocate funds.

“While we’re there, we’re learning just as much as the children are,” Rice said.