Urithi Education Fund events will help build eco dormitory in Kenya
Ryan Summerlin September 3, 2013
In a little Kenyan village called Kithoka, more than 58 percent of the children have lost one or both of their parents.
To help house and educate these orphans, Beth Miller founded the Kenyan Urithi Education Fund, a nonprofit organization based in Park City.
The goal of the Kenyan Urithi Education Fund is to "work in partnership with local Kenyan communities to develop and grow projects that enrich and enhance education."
In the past, the organization established a school computer-teaching lab, a sustainable primary school feeding program, a music program in Meru and a girls education program to help balance the inequality of education between boys and girls.
The next project will be the construction of an eco-dormitory in the village of Kithoka, Miller told The Park Record.
"There is an orphanage called the Kithoka Amani Children’s Home that has had to turn away orphans due to lack of space," Miller said. "So the dormitory will provide additional space for more children."
The structure will also provide a service for additional volunteers in the future.
"There is a sustainability plan where Westerners who go to the area to volunteer will stay on the second floor of the Kithoka home and the money they pay to stay will make up 50 percent of the money needed to run the dormitory," Miller said. "Once the dormitory is built, it will double the amount of children that can be housed in the area and it will also provide additional rooms where more volunteers can stay."
To raise money for the dormitory, the Kenya Urithi Educational Fund will host a fundraiser and back-to-school carnival at the Park City Community Church, 4501 S.R. 224, on Saturday, Sept. 7, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. The event will feature food, games, prizes and a bounce house.
Admission is $10 for a wristband that includes unlimited jumping at the bounce house, or 50 cents a ticket for the other games.
Tickets for the opportunity drawing are $5 apiece.
The nonprofit will also host another event called Parents’ Night Out at the church on Friday, Sept. 13. Parents can drop their kids off between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. and the kids will enjoy craft stations, games, a movie and pizza.
Admission for that event is $25 for one child and $30 for a family.
Miller founded the Kenya Urithi Educational Fund in 2008, but has been involved with projects in Kenya for a little more than a decade.
"I directed a youth drama troupe when I lived in Michigan," Miller said. "When we performed over in England a man who sat on the Kenyan Parliament saw the performance and asked us to perform in high schools in Kenya."
That encounter led to Miller’s daughter, Megan Peck, attending a semester of college in Kenya, where she worked in different schools and orphanages.
"When I went to pick her up, I toured the area to see if taking a drama troupe there would be feasible," Miller said. "Kenya spoke to me and I saw the need for education was so great.
"Education is a way for people to rise out of poverty, because you give them the means to help their community and educate others," she said.
The Kenya Urithi Education Fund dedicated its first high school in 2008 and this year, it completed the second of two 10-classroom blocks that are designed to take care of 800 kids.
The upcoming trip to help build the dormitory will be in October. Andrea Solum, a first-grade teacher at Trailside Elementary, will be part of the group.
"I have always wanted to go to South Africa on a humanitarian trip and when I found out about this, I didn’t think the Park City School District would approve of me going, but my principal, Kathleen Einhorn, was so supportive."
Einhorn encouraged Solum to apply for the time off.
"I’ll teach science there and came up with two of my activities I’ll do," Solum said. "It’s been exciting, but I’m also nervous."
So far, 14 volunteers will be leaving for Kenya, Miller said.
"The one thing that is important to know is that all of them will pay all their expenses to get there," Miller explained. "So the money that will be raised at the carnival and Parents’ Night Out will all go towards the dormitory."
Solum approached Park City Community Church pastor Tracy Hausman to see if the fundraisers could be held at the church.
"She is always looking for ways to give back to the community," Solum said of Hausman. "And this was perfect for the church."
The Park City Community Church, 4501 S.R. 224, will host a Kenya Urithi Educational Fund Fundraiser and Back to School Carnival on Saturday, Sept. 7, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. For more information, call Andrea Solum at (435) 659-1848.