By Keishel Williams
Many came out to support Travel & GIVE for their second annual Travel With a Purpose fundraiser on Saturday evening in Manhattan. The organization had a goal of raising $20,000 to fund programs they currently run in Kenya and Haiti.
Philanthropic guests were able to support by donating money on the spot, or by participating in the silent auction and raffle. Throughout the evening host, Brandhyze Stanley of Blue Bloods and Orange is the New Black, reminded guests that they are able to also support Travel & GIVE’s goals by volunteering their time and, or, talents on one of their future trips.
Three change-makers whose work has impacted his or her respective communities were also recognized that evening: Sean Williams, founder of The Dad Gang, received the Global Empowerment Award for the work his organization has been doing to dispel the negative stereotypes around black fatherhood. Brian Asingia, co-founder of Dream Galaxy, received the Global Educator Award on behalf of his co-founder Franko Abott and their organization which is an education distribution platform that focuses on storytelling.
The third recipient and special guest, Wamaitha Mwangi, flew in from Nairobi, Kenya for the event. Mwangi is the founder of Angel Centre, the primary orphanage in Kenya that benefits from this Travel With a Purpose fundraiser. Angel Centre rescues abandoned children and care for them until they are adopted. Angel Centre currently houses 48 orphans ranging from newborn to 9 years old.
The self-funded center provides these children with food, clothing, medical care and education. Fundraisers such as these along with the assistance from organizations such as Travel & GIVE as well as individual assistance, is what has kept the Angel Centre in operation since it opened its doors in 2010. Mwangi received the Global Advocate Award.
“There are a lot of abandoned children in Kenya and most of them end up dying because they are left in dumpsters, they are left in hospitals, some of them are born premature and then the hospitals do not have enough equipment to take care of them,” Mwangi said. “So the mothers that are from poor communities end up running away because the [newborns] that get into incubators, the bill becomes so high it’s easier to let it go.”
Although Travel & GIVE visits Haiti three times a year since its inception in 2016, this year was their first trip to Kenya where they went on a clear two-part mission. At the Angel Centre orphanage they painted, installed security locks, installed outdoor clothing lines, provided food for four months and funded 22 children with school fees for the remainder of the year. Additionally, they launched a multisensory digital program into seven schools in the Nairobi area. The self-sustaining digital program in the form of an app will allow students to have a digital learning experience.
In an emotional speech Martine Harris, co-founder of the organization, recalled how her own cousin who was born deaf and blind in one eye was adopted by her family in the U.S. because Haiti did not have the resources to help him. This inspired their work in Haiti.
“With travel and give I want to provide knowledge to teachers and caregivers in Haiti on how to create that inclusive learning environment for everyone who has disabilities and learns differently,” she said.
The organization is currently preparing for their next trip to Haiti in a few weeks.
Learn more about how you can contribute, donate, or volunteer at TravelandGive.org.