Sarah Ehrlich's Help for Orphans Partners with Seven African Orphanage Schools

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When Sarah Ehrlich, executive director of Help for Orphans (http://www.helpfororphans.org), and three of her colleagues planned their February trip to Kenya, they had no idea how much they would accomplish in three weeks. "We got a tremendous amount of work done," said Ehrlich, who was accompanied on the trip by Help for Orphans' Director of Fundraising Lisa Hope, Director of Development Lawrence Roseman, and Director of Finance David Ehrlich. "In the process, we partnered with seven Kenyan orphanage schools, which will now become part of the Help for Orphans International Schools network."

Children need to have basic sanitation, classrooms that are in a good state of repair, and adequate nutrition before they can turn their attention to learning

When Sarah Ehrlich, executive director of Help for Orphans (http://www.helpfororphans.org), and three of her colleagues planned their February trip to Kenya, they had no idea how much they would accomplish in three weeks. "We got a tremendous amount of work done," said Ehrlich, who was accompanied on the trip by Help for Orphans' Director of Fundraising Lisa Hope, Director of Development Lawrence Roseman, and Director of Finance David Ehrlich. "In the process, we partnered with seven Kenyan orphanage schools, which will now become part of the Help for Orphans International Schools network."

For Ehrlich and her colleagues, the partnerships start with a commitment to provide students with the basic necessities that lay the groundwork for learning opportunities. "Children need to have basic sanitation, classrooms that are in a good state of repair, and adequate nutrition before they can turn their attention to learning," said Ehrlich. To that end, Help for Orphans is providing funding for school restrooms to be restored, septic tanks to be cleaned, and roofs to be repaired. While in Kenya, Ehrlich and her colleagues also hired cooks and are providing funding for food so that students will be served both breakfast and lunch. "All too often, these children only eat one meal a day. We are committed to maximizing their learning potential by alleviating their hunger," said Ehrlich.

While in Kenya, the Help for Orphans representatives also provided numerous orphanage schools with supplies, materials, and thousands of books. "It was extremely gratifying to see the expressions of delight on the faces of both the students and teachers," said Ehrlich. "So much of what we take for granted is treasured by those who have so little."

In addition to providing funding for facilities repair, meals, and materials, Help for Orphans is paying the salaries of teachers at several schools. The organization will also provide training in phonics-based reading methods to 50 teachers during the month of April.

Ehrlich and her colleagues have big plans for Help for Orphans, and a significant number of those plans were realized on their recent trip to Kenya. "We're currently building one school from the ground up, building another nursery school, and building sleeping facilities at an established primary school," said Ehrlich. "A village council in western Kenya, an area that has been hit hard by HIV/AIDS, is providing land for a future building project -- an orphanage and an elementary school for those orphans."

Ehrlich is grateful that the non-profit Help for Orphans has received generous financial support, but is keenly aware that the need is greater than the organization's current resources. That is why she and her colleagues are stepping up the organization's fundraising activities. "Our donors appreciate that Help for Orphans is doing a stellar job at making sure not one penny gets wasted," said Ehrlich. "Less than five percent of donations are used for administrative costs -- about half of what is considered acceptable for non-profits."

Although the need for schools in Kenya is great, Help for Orphans has its sights set higher. The organization is also providing school materials to orphanages in Uganda and India, and will ultimately launch or partner with at least 500 schools around the globe. "Right now, we're focusing on Africa, but we also have immediate plans to build sustainable schools for orphans in southern India and Central America. Eventually, we will launch efforts in Southeast Asia, North and South America, and Europe," concluded Ehrlich.

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