Retired teacher funds scholarships for AIDS orphans
The Gift: Creating Community Education Services Canada
The Reason: To provide scholarships to AIDS orphans in Kenya
When Michael Frederiksen retired from a 33-year career teaching and running schools in Ontario, he fulfilled a life-long dream to visit a teacher friend in Kenya. That three-month trip in 2004 changed his life and opened his eyes to the toll HIV/AIDS was taking on communities across the country.
"It broke my heart," recalled Mr. Frederiksen, who lives in Barrie, Ont. "It had a huge influence on me."
Shortly after he returned home, he decided to do something. He reached out to some friends and got in contact with Malik Khaemba, a Kenyan diplomat in Ottawa. Together they started Community Education Services (CES) with the goal of providing scholarships to children orphaned by HIV/AIDS.
At Mr. Khaemba's suggestion, they concentrated on Kakamega, one of Kenya's largest cities located about 300 kilometres west of Nairobi.
Soon the charity was operating on two fronts; Mr. Frederiksen and his team raised money in Canada while Mr. Khaemba, who retired and returned to Kenya, and others found deserving students to support in Kakamega.
Since 2004, CES has funded 1,000 scholarships and is currently helping 165 students at 26 schools. The group is also building wells at schools and working on other health programs. Mr. Frederiksen and volunteers need to raise about $75,000 annually to keep the project funded.
One student, Busuku Musili, was so grateful for the support he travelled 400 km, including 80 on a bicycle, just to thank Mr. Frederiksen during one of his annual visits to Kenya.
"It has been unbelievable," Mr. Frederiksen said. "What it shows us as a group of friends, is that you don't need government and you don't need large donors, if someone is really interested they can do something small."