Adopt-a-Slum in Kenya | The Easy Way to Make a Huge Difference!

From Bolivia to Laos to Kenya, I’ve had many frustrating encounters with destitution and the havoc it wreaks on families. Even having volunteered with street kids and folks living on a dollar a day over the years, POVERTY is such an enormous worldwide crisis (it deserves all caps, no?) that it seems completely impossible to make a dent. I think that’s one of the reasons the third world is easy to ignore. I tend to lean toward extremes and focus on an all-or-nothing approach in my own life, so I’ve often felt that if I can’t change the whole world, nothing else would be worthwhile.

Maybe someday I will do something that can eradicate poverty on a global scale. But for now, I want to take a small step. Help a few people. Make a teensy difference.

So here’s the plan: I call it “Adopt-a-Slum.” Through the local staff at Compassion, we’ve identified 30 families who live in the Ngong Hills slum whose kids are part of the Compassion* program. Instead of short-term assistance, I want to focus on improving their lives for good.

The first step is to give the parents an opportunity to make a decent living. During my visit to the slum, I watched as moms and dads bent over at the waist, digging in a landfill next to their homes for scraps of food to sell to farmers for livestock.  It’s filthy and full of disease and there’s obviously no room for the thought of a better future. There’s no other job they could get without education or running water or clothing. But I want to help them change that circumstance by providing seed funding to start a small business of their own.

Chopping veggies with a woman from the slums who started her own business

I spoke with the staff at Compassion and several families have received one-off donations from sponsors in the past, using the cash to start their own vegetable stands or food carts. Going from lowly trash digger to respectable food seller is not just a physical financial boost, but also a mental one. With parents actively engaged in commerce in the neighborhood, the children are able to dream bigger than the slum. Even if the parents never want to leave, with Compassion sponsors and the Adopt-a-Slum effort, the kiddos at the center will have the freedom to imagine a better life. A life outside poverty, where eventually they may be in a position to make a bigger difference locally than I ever could from afar.

So how much does hope cost?

How much will it take to give a family the chance to start a small business in a slum in Kenya?

Just $30.

Right. That’s about a week’s worth of lattes or one NYC brunch to give someone hope that life isn’t just something to survive. That someone out there cares about hungry babies and dirty little feet and is standing with them in solidarity. I was floored when I learned just how little it would take to change lives.

The second step is to buffer the families with a small cash injection for several months worth of supplies while they get the business up and running. Shoes for the kids or a pan to cook with. Blankets for the winter. Grain, oil and sugar. Remember, they live in shacks made of bits of tin and fabric, so any improvement that can be made is most certainly dire and necessary. I’m budgeting around $70 per family for supplies for a grand total of $100 each.

For $3,000, we can change an entire community of some of the world’s poorest citizens for the better. It’s such a small goal and so attainable – I can’t help but think more people would get involved if only they knew how simple it was.

Now, I haven’t had time to set up an official foundation, so this is going to be a very ragtag operation. If you trust that I’m not some Madoff-like money-snatcher (and I’m totally not!), then I’ve made it really easy to donate via the PayPal button below – my account is [email protected]. (PS – you don’t have to have a PayPal account – credit cards are accepted, too!)

Rest assured, every cent will be sent directly to the Compassion center for use in the Adopt-a-Slum project and I’ll be happy to show all receipts anywhere you like. The first $225 is coming from me!

If you’re wary of sending cash this way, I totally understand. You can make a tax-deductible donation to the center by calling 800-336-7676 or you can mail a check to the following address:

Compassion International
Colorado Springs, CO 80997-0002

Just indicate that the donation should go to Compassion Center KE-755 in Ngong Hills, Kenya, and I will ensure that the funds are directed into this particular project.

If this type of outreach isn’t your cup of tea, but you want to help in some way, check out a couple of my other travel blogger friends (Backpacker Becki, Tourist 2 Townie, A Little AdriftPassports with Purpose) in their efforts to change the world. Or sponsor your own kiddo via Compassion for just $38/month.

It’s really easy to change a life with the change in your pocket. And if you could see me right now, you’d know I’m begging for it.

So what do you think of Adopt-a-Slum? Do you have questions? Can you help?

*This organizational link will ensure that the funds are properly distributed to real people with real issues – but I should mention the effort is in no way sponsored or endorsed by Compassion. I’m operating independently to raise the funds and am donating them to these folks via the Compassion organization and its local staff.

************FUNDRAISING UPDATE*************

$225    Angie O

$50       Liz O

$50       Alex B.

$100    Jo Ellen G (Submitted via Compassion)

$25      Andrea

$50     Darla D

$500 – 5 families

$30     Jane W

$30     Karla H

$30    Blake & Gabi C.

$30    Mary C.

$30    Anita M.

$30   Jamie M.

$50   Simon F.

$30   Rachel P.

$30   Robert J.

$50   Michael T.

$300  Angie O.

First installment: $1,040 Paid June 11, 2012

Total raised as of June 11, 2012 : $1,140

$30  Jessica M.

$25  Emiel B.

$20  Jonathan K.

$30  Nicole J.

$30  Jennifer D.

$5   Jennifer Q.

$50  Lindsay M.

$150  Angie O.

$40  Stephanie C.

$30 Nicolas S.

$1,550! 15 families served and halfway there!

$60  Marziya M.

$300 Angie O.

$30  Lauralee R.

$100  Jennifer H.

$30 Denise H.

$30  Jane W.

$50  Sarah C.

Total raised as of Feb. 6, 2013 : $2,150

Second installment paid Feb. 6, 2013: $1,010

$560  Angie O.

$80   Tina F.

$20  Jennifer P.

$10  Debbie P.

$30  Heather W.

$30 Mark S.

29 thoughts on “Adopt-a-Slum in Kenya | The Easy Way to Make a Huge Difference!”

  1. Jo Ellen Gonzo

    I will sponsor one family. I’m sending my donation through their website not because I don’t trust you but because if I can give a bidgger donation and use it as a tax deduction as well.

  2. Pastor Francis Kimani

    I am the Pastor in Kenya where Angie visited. I serve next to the slum and it is true all that angie has written in her document. She came as a volunteer and she can be trusted.

  3. Just sent the first installment thru PayPal. Still took me a minute to figure out how to “send money” duh. I sacrificed dad’s admission to our camping weekend! He’s no fun anyway…TEE HEE, Besides, Alex can put my tent up!

  4. Hi Angie it is such a wonderful effort from your side. Shall share this with my friends and shall try to contribute with our share.
    Suppose we want to donate in kind like clothes, winter clothes, duvet etc how do we go about it? to whom do we send it to? please do let me know.

    1. Hi Raaj! I think the cost of shipping those items would make it prohibitive, unfortunately. It’s more cost effective to give cash directly and allow them to purchase what they need. Let me know if you have other ideas, and thank you!

  5. Hello! i think you’re doing something really really great here and i think i can get at least a few people willing to donate, but since i do worry too much, i’d really like some way to know i’m not just throwing their money away… is that possible? sorry for the doubt, just trying to be careful. 🙂

    1. Totally understand! If anyone is dubious, they can donate directly to the project through Compassion, though I hear there’s a $100 minimum for donations that way. I’m keeping a list of donations below and will be providing updates as I get them from those managing the project in Ngong Hills. I am sending the first donations next week so we should be getting some progress reports soon! Thank you for your willingness to help!

  6. just made a donation! it’s through my husband Jon’s paypal account, so you might not recognize it’s from me 🙂


  7. Just sent through some $$ through paypal 🙂 been behind in my readings of your blog, and your reflections entry reminded me instantly. Hope all is goin well 🙂

  8. When I first saw the title ‘Adopt-a-Slum in Kenya…’, my first thought was “Oh no, not another BS on Kibera please”.

    But reading through, I could sense the honesty of your idea. Several initiatives to raise funds to help slum dwellers (in Kenya or anywhere else) never have the impact many innocent donors believe they have. But I love the practicality of your idea: empower the families economically (by helping start a business) and also have a chance to change the slum mindset in the future generation. That way, the people are able to help themselves, thus making a change not just today, but for generations to come.

    Being in Kenya myself, I believe the best solutions come from among us. Sadly though, not many of us are willing to help, and that’s why initiatives like yours come in handy. I am trying in my own little ways here, so I won’t make a donation through your site now, but I just wanted to give you a thumbs up for your great spirit and initiative.

    1. Hey Timothy – thank you so much for your comments. I definitely think we need to get to the root of the issue and not just treat the surface symptoms, and it is really encouraging to hear that you agree since you’re on the ground in Kenya full time. I know that this very small injection of cash is helping the parents make a change that will hopefully empower their kids to do more, not just for themselves, but for the country.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Get exclusive updates with all the latest news and posts delivered directly to your inbox
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.
Scroll to Top