Crystal Jedrzejewski is taking a small-town approach to solving big problems half a world away.
She is organizing a pork-roast fundraiser at High Creek Farm in Walton to help raise funds for Salem Orphanage Home in Kisumu, Kenya. It’s an approach to fundraising that just seemed to fit best with the community.
“I looked around this area and was trying to think of what’s pretty popular this time of year,” she said, “I’ve been noticing a lot of pig roasts have been popping up and people like going to those, and I figured why not do it as a fundraiser?”
Jedrzejewski first visited Salem Orphanage Home in May 2008, and she fell in love with the country and its people.
“Ever since I was little, I always had a huge pull in my heart to go to Africa. So then I researched a bunch of the different countries, and my criteria were that it was safe, and that I would lend a helping hand to the majority of the people that really needed it.”
Jedrzejewski chose Kenya because of the enormous number of children there orphaned by AIDS. The Joint United Nations Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS) estimates that there are between 1.6 million and 1.9 million people in Kenya living with the disease, and that there are anywhere between 1.1 million and 1.3 million orphaned children in Kenya because of AIDS.
“Then I fell in love with it,” she said of what happened next.
Salem Orphanage Home provides 65 children with a safe place for them to call home: three meals a day, health care, clean water, clothes, education and, perhaps most importantly, a family.
The orphanage started back in 1992 when Phoebe and John Onyango, born and raised into the poverty of Kenya, decided they needed to help their community with healthcare, education, and other basic needs – needs that Jedrzejewski said the Kenyan government is unable – or unwilling – to provide.
“Their government is still deemed corrupt,” she explained. “When you look at Canada, the government is able to provide different social service jobs like health care (and) education, …whereas the government in Kenya isn’t able to provide that for the people.”
The billions of dollars donated by countries such as Canada don’t always reach those who need it the most, so to ensure as much as her fundraising as possible goes to the orphanage, Jedrzejewski has enlisted some help here in Canada – the Rotary Club of St. Catharines.
“They issue tax receipts, mentor me, and they also send the money over for me because if I was just going to send it, then I would spend half the money trying to send it there, and I want to get all of it over there.”
She is also in constant contact with the directors of the orphanage so she knows how the money is being spent.
Jedrzejewski wants to raise about $6,000 for Salem Orphanage Home, and hopes to get about 250 to come out for the fundraiser.
The fundraiser starts at 5:30 on Sept. 4 at High Creek Farms, 43065 Canada Company Road in Walton.
Jedrzejewski will also be selling traditional Kenyan necklaces and scarves, and there will be a silent auction as well. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. The price includes your meal, entertainment, and a bus from Listowel which is sponsored by S & K Transportation Inc. Tickets can be purchased at Keil & Dadsons Insurance, or at Zehrs in Listowel.