Thanks to generous donors a bunch of Kenyan children are receiving advantages many Africans desire but cannot obtain.
Eunice Menja, director of Upendo Kids International, said $60,000 has been raised to buy, renovate and equip the Upendo Children’s Home in Kenya. Ninety percent of the donations came from Edmond. Menja thanked everyone who has been part of the orphanage project through either prayer or donations.
“God used your giving to perform a miracle,” she said. “We thought we would wait until June 2013 to start anything.”
Beds, mattresses and sheets have been purchased, Menja said. Workers replaced the doors and windows on the home and built more structures that include a store and worker’s room, she said.
Menja said the property and building are located in Juja in Kenya’s Central Province. It will host 50 children age 5-16. Children younger than age 5 may live there if their siblings are admitted.
In June and July, at least 30 volunteers from Edmond, mostly high school and college students, will go love on the children at the home, Menja said. A few local teachers will go as well, she said. Quilters are making bed covers.
Years of drought had a serious impact on the well-being of Kenya’s children, increasing malnutrition rates, morbidity and mortality, according to UNICEF. A rise in inter-tribal and inter-clan violence resulted in child deaths, injuries and displacement. Many children are orphaned when their parents die of HIV/AIDS.
“The situations get very difficult and they are left with no help,” Menja said. “They therefore move to the streets and tend to feed from the trash cans or beg for food.”
Children may become pickpockets if they are unlucky in getting some food, Menja said. Others are being raised by their grandparents; if the elders become ill the children have no supervision, she said.
There are not many homes like this in Kenya, Menja said. Many homes, such us what Upendo Kids is starting, are owned by churches, mostly foreign churches, she said.
Children living at the new home will have a balanced diet and get to drink clean water, Menja said. They will attend the neighboring schools and school costs are paid by the ministry, she said. The children will receive medical care when needed.
Robert Menja, Eunice’s husband and ministry partner, said the average income for Kenyans is still below $2 a day and most people still rely on subsistence farming for food. Kenya’s government child welfare agency is not able to provide social services for orphans and other neglected children, he said.
“Thanks to our donors and sponsors, 50 orphans and vulnerable children will have a place to call home, be able to take a warm shower, receive a square meal, education and a sense of belonging,” he said. “This is only due to the generosity of Oklahomans in Edmond.”
Eunice Menja said the Kenyan government will be responsible for any major issues that arise. All Upendo Children’s Home employees must pass government background checks, she said.
Menja said Upendo Kids, which helps children in other parts of the world as well, has a reliable partnership committee in Kenya that coordinates its projects. All money sent is designated from this end, she said. The ministry receives all the receipts from Kenya as well and verifies with the people on the ground.
Current needs for the children’s home include money to purchase a bus and sponsors for the children, Menja said. They grow and move to higher grades which raises the needs, she said. It costs $30 a month to sponsor a child. Sponsor dollars pay for food and school fees. Employees will need to be paid as well.
Menja said the financial support can only come from abroad because there is no budget in the Kenyan government that would provide for such a project. Police will call the coordinator to ask if there is room to take more children if they find them on the streets, she said.
Eventually, plans call for the Upendo Children’s Home to expand and care for about 300 children on the same property, Menja said.
“My hope is that these children will get a full education and graduate to where they can support themselves and possibly others,” she said. “We get the children off the streets which will increase security in the country. When Upendo Kids sends the money to Kenya to help the children, it helps with the economy. We also create jobs for the locals as well.”
Donations may be sent to Upendo Kids International, P.O. Box 31504, Edmond, OK, 73003. They can be made online at upendokidsinternational.org. Either one-time or monthly gifts would be appreciated, the group stated. For more information, call 408-8868 or 600-8498.
Thanks to generous donors a bunch of Kenyan children are receiving advantages many Africans desire but cannot obtain.
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Candidates disagree with White House’s minimum wage
Gubernatorial candidate Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, said the state needs to have serious growth in high-paying living wage jobs that will provide for Oklahomans.
Dorman cautioned that while Oklahoma’s jobless rate improved in June, the state’s rankings for the well-being of children has dropped from 36th to 39th place, for one of the largest declines in the U.S., according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Project.
The unemployment rate in June dropped to 4.5 percent, down a percentage point from 4.6 percent in May, according to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, Gov. Mary Fallin said this week.
The state’s unemployment rate was more than 7 percent when Fallin was elected during the brink of the Great Depression. Alex Weintz, communications director for Fallin, pointed out that per capita income in Oklahoma was second in the nation from 2011 to 2013.
The non partisan Congressional Budget office reported in February that raising the minimum wage could kill a half-million jobs in the United States.
According to The Washington Times, CBO analysts reported, “Once the other changes in income were taken into account, families whose income would be below six times the poverty threshold under current law would see a small increase in income, on net, and families whose income would be higher under current law would see reductions in income, on net.”
President Barack Obama in February signed an executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers to $10.10 an hour.
Weintz said the governor believes tax cuts have enabled families to keep more of their money.
No one is talking about the under-employment rate of families working minimum wage jobs, Dorman said.
“It’s all fine and good when you have fast-food jobs that don’t cover the bills and that counts toward your unemployment rate.”
Oklahoma’s minimum wage reflects the federal minimum wage set at $7.25 an hour, a standard set in 2009.
Fallin signed legislation this year to prohibit municipalities from raising their local minimum wage above $7.25 an hour.
“If the minimum wage goes up to $15 in Oklahoma City, all of the sudden you would drive retail, business, service industry locations outside of the city limits and that would be detrimental to the economy, consumers and to businesses,” Weintz said.
Fallin has said that she opposes raising the minimum wage in Oklahoma because it would stifle job growth for small business and lay off workers. A lot of people earning the $7.25 minimum wage are part-time workers and many of them are students, Weintz said.
“We believe raising the minimum wage is not a good way to address poverty,” Weintz said. “A lot of people earning the minimum wage are actually people living with their parents or other people who are employed full time, and in many cases they are middle class families. So it’s not a good tool to reduce poverty.”
Dorman said he does not necessarily support the proposed $10.10 an hour minimum federal minimum wage that is being discussed by Congress.
“I think we need to have a living wage in Oklahoma that is reflective of our economy,” Dorman said.
About 102,300 jobs have been added in Oklahoma since Fallin took office in January 2011, according to her office.
The cost of living in the national economy tends to be higher in some other states, Dorman said.
So a minimum wage increase should be tied to economic gains so that families can pay their bills and afford to care for their children, Dorman said.
Independent candidates for governor include Richard Prawdzienski of Edmond, Joe Sills of Oklahoma City and Kimberly Willis of Oklahoma City.
Firefighters sharpen forced entry skills
Of all burglaries, 60.5 percent involved forcible entry, according to recent FBI statistics.
As a result, many home and businesses are installing a greater number of complex mechanisms on their doors and windows. Edmond Fire Maj. Joe Elam said 10 local firefighters recently sharpened their skills during a forcible entry class offered by IRONS and LADDERS, LLC., of Lawrence, Kan.
Preparing for a fall home garden
Gardening can be a year-around activity for those that have an appreciation for fresh and nutritious vegetables. Some of the best vegetables in Oklahoma are produced and harvested during the cooler weather of fall. Successful fall gardens, however, require some work in the summer growing season. Factors to be considered are location, soil preparation, crops to be grown and how/when to plant.
The major consideration for garden placement is sunlight. All vegetables require some sunlight; the most popular vegetables require full sun. “Full” sun means at least 8 hours of intense, direct exposure.
OBU dance team celebrates National Dance Day
In 2010, “So You Think You Can Dance” co-creator and Dizzy Feet Foundation co-president Nigel Lythgoe created National Dance Day in an effort to help people embrace dance and combat obesity on the last Saturday in July.
This year, on July 26, Oklahoma Baptist University’s dance team will host a fundraiser that allows participants to dance all day for $30. The fundraiser will be in the Noble Complex on OBU’s campus.
Cami Gower, an OBU junior and co-captain/co-founder of the dance team, said the team’s officers have been planning for their upcoming season since April. Gower is a graduate of Deer Creek High School.
“Since then we have been coming up with better ways to reach the community with dance,” she said. “This day of dance was a great way to do it and help the team raise funds.”
Local cops arrest NFL player on marijuana complaint
The Edmond Police Department has released the incident report related to the arrest of ex-Oklahoma State star and current NFL player Justin Blackmon.
Blackmon, 24, a product of Plainview High School in Ardmore, is a 6-1, 210-pound wide receiver in his second year with the Jacksonville Jaguars. At Oklahoma State University, he was a two-time Biletnikoff Award winner as the country’s best collegiate wide receiver.
Women aided in Afghanistan, Rwanda through AT&T
AT&T renewed its support for the PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS program Wednesday by making a $125,000 contribution to the program at Lakeside Women’s Hospital in Oklahoma City.
AT&T has been a major supporter of Peace through Business since its inception in 2007, said Steve Hahn, the new president of AT&T Oklahoma.
Salvation Army pantry closes until September
Due to an increase of need, The Salvation Army in Oklahoma County has distributed all of its food supply. July 23 was the last day of the food pantry operations. In preparation for the move to the Center of Hope at 1001 N. Pennsylvania, The Salvation Army Client Choice Pantry will not resume operations until September.
Payne Co. crash sends Guthrie man to hospital
A two-vehicle crash in Payne County sent a Guthrie man to a local hospital, a trooper stated.
Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper James Ritze stated a 2005 Jeep SUV and a 2013 Ford pickup were about a mile east of Perkins headed west on State Highway 33. When the pickup slowed for a truck pulling out of a private drive, the SUV struck the rear of the pickup, Ritze stated.
Second Street to get new 7-Eleven
The amended site plan for a new 7-Eleven Convenience Store was approved by the Edmond Planning Commission this week by a vote of 4-0.
Guard adds jobs, revenue to Oklahoma
During a Wednesday morning press conference at Joint Force Headquarters, members of the Guard touted the findings of an in-depth study addressing impacts the organization has in areas including gross state product, employment and tax revenue.
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- Candidates disagree with White House’s minimum wage