Our view is that compassion is the emotion most essential for living a happier, richer life. Therefore, in 2017, as part of our mission to help our clients, colleagues, and community members live richer lives, Brighton Jones launched a global compassion project with the aim of putting compassion into action by supporting local volunteers in an under-served part of southern Kenya.
We partnered with Lift Up Africa to build a volunteer guesthouse that will serve two amazing Kenyan organizations: the HELGA Maasai Girls Rescue Center (HELGA) and the Kajiado Childcare Centre (KCC). The guesthouse provides urgently needed accommodations for volunteers who care for the special needs of children with disabilities and girls escaping early forced marriage and other difficult situations. Read more about these amazing organizations and the work they do below.
Through the combined efforts of our entire team, we successfully raised enough money through the many generous donations made by Brighton Jones clients, team members, friends, and family, to construct the guesthouse and secure funding for its first years of operation. Construction of the guesthouse was finished in the fall of 2017, and it has already become a mainstay supporting the important work of local and international volunteers at HELGA and KCC. We feel so grateful to everyone who contributed their time, talent, and treasure to make this guesthouse a reality. We couldn’t have done the project without you. Thank you!
The Guesthouse primarily serves the Kajiado Childcare Center (KCC), HELGA Maasai Girls Rescue Center (HELGA), as well as the many volunteers who will pass through its doors. KCC is an organization that exists to rehabilitate, educate and empower children with disabilities so that they may gain self-reliance and dignity, and may reach their full potential in life. KCC was founded in 1979, and since its inception the center has treated and rehabilitated over 2000 physically disabled children in need. HELGA provides safety and education to girls escaping early forced marriage and other difficult circumstances. The director, Priscilla, has been running the center for over 25 years and is currently helping 52 girls continue their education and escape early forced marriage. Both centers touch hundreds of lives each year, and are strong advocates for building a safer, stronger and more inclusive society; read below to meet a few of these individuals.
The Guesthouse can accommodate volunteers year-round. The volunteers, primarily health professionals, provide direct services and training to benefit the children at the Kajiado Childcare Centre (KCC) and HELGA Maasai Girls Rescue Center (HELGA). The impact is tremendous, in three main ways:
Karen is one of the girls currently living at HELGA’s rescue center. After her mother died when she was very young, she was put under the care of one of her stepmothers. When she was six years old, her stepmother withdrew her from school so that she could take care of the younger children in the household. Karen missed school dearly and feared that like many other girls in the community, she would be forced to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM) and marry a much older man.
A friend told Karen about the rescue center, and Karen started to plan her own escape. One Sunday morning, Karen decided to run away to the center. She spoke with Priscilla and told her story. Priscilla assured Karen that as long as she was at the center that no one would harm her. Karen has been happily living at the center and continuing in school since 2012.
HELGA works with a network of women in the community to protect girls and advocate for their rights to education. They also have strong ties with local government officials who support their efforts. In addition to the rescue center, they operate a primary school as well as economic empowerment programs for women.
Sankan is 18 years old and uses special boots for mobility support. He requires maintenance therapy and is able to receive these services at KCC. With the support of KCC, Sankan was able to complete his secondary education at the Thika Secondary School for the physically challenged. Sankan is one of many children that KCC is helping by paying for school fees and providing long-term rehabilitation.
KCC impacts many individuals’ lives, but it also advocates for wider societal change through community outreach and educational workshops. These programs promote a just and equitable society for all people by advocating for disability rights and mainstreaming of individuals with disabilities. They combat the widespread stigma faced by people with disabilities and their families. They provide life-altering medical services, train families in early detection of problems and caretaker strategies, and provide equipment such as wheelchairs and braces.
How will the Guesthouse impact HELGA?
“Having a place to host visitors will be a huge help to the Maasai Girls Rescue Center. Volunteers provide much help to us and also give an experience to our girls that they would otherwise not have. Being able to interact with people from different cultures inspires them and opens their growing minds to new ideas, new possibilities, and, most of all, hope.”
Director of HELGA Maasai Girls Rescue Center
How will the Guesthouse impact KCC?
“Volunteers are critical to our work, and not having a space for them to stay has been a big challenge for us. This facility will allow us to receive the generous time and expertise of volunteers from across the globe. They help with specialized services to children with disabilities, as well as train our local staff. That way, their impact is always here and keeps multiplying after they return home.”
Director of Kajiado Childcare Center