Paying it Forward

Posted in OLD The Archive

During 2010, Sifa 107.7FM in Voi, Kenya received a basket with the station name, frequency and tagline (SIFA, 107.7FM, Breath of Life) carefully woven into the side. It was an appreciation to the station from a group of listeners after a basket weaving competition in Voi.

The team at the station thought of a creative way to use the basket to reach out to those in need in the greater Voi community of Taita Taveta county. Talking to the local administration and the community, the station manager and the staff became aware of the existence of a high number of orphans and child-headed families living in the community. Some 300 orphans were identified in different locations and the staff decided to find ways to put a smile on their faces.

They developed a plan to send out an appeal on radio for food in the form of dry grain, clothes, shoes and toiletries. These would be distributed through the local administration to families in need just before the Christmas holiday. Aha! The SIFA FM Basket would come in handy in the campaign. They launched Kapu la Sifa (Sifa Basket).

As soon as the appeal announcement went out, listeners started bringing in donations of foodstuff and clothes to the station and other collection points in the town of Voi. They received bags of maize, rice, maize flour, beans, cooking oil, clothes and shoes. Other partners and friends of SIFA 107.7FM offered their vehicles for transporting the donations to the orphans' homes.

On the 21st of December 2010 the station staff set off to the locations with the donations for the orphans loaded in a lorry. Going from one location to the other meant meandering along the Taita hills and valleys to the central points identified where they found children waiting.

They visited some of the homes and in one home they found a household of three little orphans, aged 5-7 years, under the care of very old grandparents. It was heartrending to see the circumstances under which the three little boys were living. The donations were received with deep gratitude since it was the first time they had experienced such a gesture.

The Chiefs (local administration officers) said that no one had ever remembered orphans from child-headed homes and taken any steps to support them. It was the first time children in child-headed homes were singled out in all the locations in Taita Taveta County. The staff also gave a Kiswahili Bible to every Chief they met as part of the mission - to spread the love of Jesus Christ.

At the end of the day the staff went back to Voi with a smile in their hearts having accomplished their mission to put smile on the faces of 300 orphans.

Published: 28 July 2011