Oklahoma Students Reach Out to African Orphanage
By Melissa Maynarich, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- A group of Oklahoman students are reaching out to help the people of Kenya at the Maisha International Orphanage, a rural compound in the western part of the African country.
"It was the most eye opening experience I've ever had in my life. The culture shock was very intense," said Rose State College student Wynter Cowden.
The group feeds and finds shelter for orphans, provides scholarships for the children there and educates the community on the impact of HIV/AIDS. The charity said most of the orphans' parents have died of HIV/AIDS.
"Here it's a lot harder to rise above your circumstances on your own. So like these people are down and they just need a hand to pull them up," said UCO student Brittany Koster.
Brittany Koster spent her winter break with the kids in Kenya.
"The whole Christmas spirit is like, giving. Coming here, you gave...and it honestly made it. I didn't get anything, but it was the best Christmas of my life," Koster said.
Now, the focus for 2010 is building a new two story structure to support the community. It will serve as a dining hall to feed orphans, a dormitory to house them and a classroom to teach these children. Much of that learning will be about the disease that killed so many of their parents.
"What I enjoyed most about this trip was just looking at the faces of people who were living in poverty with difference diseases and seeing the light of God inside of them," Cowden said.
It's not just these college kids who are making a difference in Kenya. Lots of Oklahomans have lent a hand through donations. Most of the money raised to support the Maisha International Orphanage came from giving people throughout Oklahoma.