Judi Davis founded and ran the Sunflower Kids School in Laramie, Wyoming. Nutrition, kindness, and quality time were core elements of what Judi infused into her program on a daily basis. She fed the children that attended her daycare with food from her organic garden, practiced yoga and baked bread with them. She read to them, fostered their creativity, and taught them patience. Judi was family to everyone.
Ready for her next life adventure, Judi left Laramie and climbed Kilamanjaro and then on to a Tanzanian Orphange in the summer of 2013. It is here where she began a temporary volunteer position at a day orphanage/school, sharing her gifts and her loving spirit with approximately 60 children on a daily basis. Judi has made it part of her mission to make sure her kids are well nourished, but this has become particularly challenging, due to budgetary constraints. The school has enough funding to serve each child one meal per day, and in many cases, that is the only meal that child receives. And it shows. These children are suffering… skinny, with little energy, and lacking smiles on their faces.
Judi’s goal is to be able to feed every child breakfast every day that she is there, and to set up a program so they will continue to be fed this important meal, long after her temporary assignment is over. These fundraising efforts are being done on a 100% volunteer basis, and every cent will be used to feed a child in need. Every penny matters, every child matters.
Elizabeth is a Maasai woman whose mother died when Elizabeth was a young teen; just a few weeks after Elizabeth’s baby sister was born. Elizabeth’s father remarried immediately. His new wife was not happy with Elizabeth in the house. She attempted to arrange several marriages for Elizabeth, which she refused. She left home with her baby sister not knowing where she would go. Her behavior branded her an outcaste who would not be able to marry or bear children–her own father would not speak with her. She became involved with a very small church where she made a promise to God that she would help the children, in her community, if He would show her the way. Along came, Isaac, from Kenya, a man five years her junior. They fell in love, he proposed, and they married. –Apparently, very unusual for a younger man to marry an older woman. Soon, there was a baby on the way—Gratitude! According to Isaac, Elizabeth’s father was astounded that she had been able to have a child.
Isaac and Elizabeth have been very determined to follow through with Elizabeth’s promise to God. They started a small school in a very modest one-room church at the top of a quarry. They began gathering kids and teaching. There is no shortage of kids in dire straits around the neighborhood. Elizabeth spent much of her day just making sure the kids didn’t fall in the mine. After praying and working diligently, things started happening for them. They found money to move into a cleaner, safer place, but it turned out that the kids were getting diarrhea all the time from the toilet–I guess it just looked cleaner. So, they moved again.
It is small house with four classrooms and a kitchen–about 115 children crowd together in the small space. I am guessing that it is no more than 900 square feet. The toilet facilities are adequate and there is running water. However, there is a need for bigger facility, as there are dozens of neighborhood children who need food and education. This former home is bursting at the seams!!
The story just gets more awesome…. they (Isaac and Elizabeth) connected with volunteers—through them they were able to find the money to hire a couple more teachers. A young Mexican volunteer fell in love with what Isaac and Elizabeth were doing and now her family is sponsoring veggies for lunch every day! Then a young American woman showed up. She is working to create a boarding school/orphanage where kids will transition when they are around 9 or 10 years old. There have been many wonderful volunteers; each offering help in his/her own special way. Volunteers have funded desks, school supplies, uniforms, and teacher salaries.
Our concern is the immediate. We want to make sure that the hungry kids are not hungry. Breakfast, for seventy children, was the first step. The next step was to introduce brown rice instead of white; a more expensive and nutritious alternative. We discovered that many of the children did not have regular meals on the weekends. We began the weekend meal program—“proper meals” as Elizabeth says. They consist of rice, meat, beans, and vegetables. The children get as much as they can eat and no child is turned away. Currently, we are serving about 40 children for each weekend meal. All of that cooking resulted in more work. The teachers and volunteers were spending a lot of time cooking and doing dishes when their time should be used educating children. We hired a “mama” to help out—now she has money to feed her children regularly and the teachers have more time to teach. Just recently, the number of children, attending school Hill Crest, has grown to 115—word is spreading!
The current total monthly cost for the project, including paying the mama, is less than $400.00. This includes purchasing cooking gas and transporting the food to Hill Crest. It seems amazing to me that the cost is so little. I am anticipating that it will increase as the numbers of children increases.
Breakfast, 5 days per week for a month for 110 children is about $176.00 for a month or, about seven or eight cents a day per child. The switch to brown rice costs approximately $56.00 per month. The weekend meals are, approximately, $80.00 per month. This is thirty-six cents per meal per child. The costs don’t include the salary for the mama. I am astounded by how much value can be provided for such a small amount of money! And, it makes a huge difference in the lives of so many! The Sunflower Kids, my family, and friends have contributed enough to continue the project until the spring of 2015. Of course, it cannot end then!