The scars within her were used for helping other girls in Kenya…

Kim Dewitt- “I knew the scars I carried within me could enable me to be a voice for others.”

Women Like Us.  Three Journeys.  One Mission.  To Change the World.
 The Women Like Us Foundation Documentary is Coming Soon!

 

 

Women Like Us Foundation is a non-profit organization supporting women’s charitable leadership. Together we’re helping women change the world.

The Women Like Us Foundation has traveled to the Olmalaika Home and spent time understanding the girls’ needs.  We have supported the program and provided funds for necessities, such as clean water through a newly built water tank.  We will be returning, once again, to Olmalaika Home in June of 2016. To learn more about Kim Dewitt and her mission, visit our website at www.womenlikeusfoundation.org

Kim with the girls of Olmalaika home in Sekenani

Kim with the girls of Olmalaika home in Sekenani

“As a child I had been exposed to the ways of the Maasai tribe (…). I remember being separated from my family and led into the center of the women and girls. Later being returned with the red ocher painted on my face and beadwork hanging around my neck, I had no idea at that age that all the singing and dancing was really covering up a terrible deed – female genital mutilation.”

“The Maasai girls in Kenya, and girls in general around the world, need a voice and someone who can understand them. I knew then t530444_3582815327627_311638698_nhat the scars I carry within me enabled me to be a voice for them. There is a home now in Sekenani, Kenya filled with giggles and hugs coming from 38 little girls. It is called the OlMalaika Home – meaning “angel.” It’s a home for young Maasai girls between the ages of 5-12 that are at high risk of FGM and early childhood marriage. I like to say, “it is a home where little angels dwell.” –Kim Dewitt

The mission of Olmalaika Home is to house and protect young disadvantaged Maasai girls, providing a warm, nurturing environment.  The home hopes to guide these young women, to see themselves as persons of value, to foster respect and appreciation for their peers, teachers, leaders, and culture, and to enable them to be a generation of educated, productive, respected and valuable young women.  

There is a growing need for medical programs, educational development, additional counseling services, tutoring assistance, and living space.  Donations of all sizes are welcome. Even the smallest amount can make the difference in someone’s life. 

 

By: Sommer Bannan

Abandoned in the bushes as a baby in Kenya-now she protects the lives of children.

Mrs Tom at the school in Kenya is one of the initiatives supported by Women Like Us Foundation.  And right now, they need your help.  An urgent need is a water tank so the children are not drinking water from the river.  Can you help us?  More here and how to DONATE.

Mrs. Tom is a woman like us.  Here is her story.

Years ago, a little baby girl in Kenya was born out of wedlock and abandoned in the bushes. Her life would have ended had she not been picked up and taken to her grandmother’s home. The life of women and girls in Kenya is often seen as a burden; many of them truly become beasts of burden under their husband’s rule. That is where the story of Mrs. Tom begins.

DSC_0100-2“I was happiest in my childhood while at school,” she says. “My teachers and classmates kept my mind off the life at home, a life of abuse and lack of kindness and love. I grew up very miserable, as I would term it. I can recall one particular memory where I had unintentionally forgotten to sharpen a pencil for my sister, and my sister reported to my mother. That day I was beaten and thrown out into the rains at night. I sat outside in the cold and wet while the rest of my family remained inside eating their supper. A kind neighbor took me to his house and that is where I slept until morning. Even now as I think back to that evening, I have a difficult time understanding how a mother could sleep when she didn’t know where her daughter was out in the rainy night.

Mrs Tom and the teachers and helpers of the N A Noel School.

Mrs Tom and the teachers and helpers of the N A Noel School.understanding how a mother could slumber comfortably not knowing where her baby was sleeping.”

School was Mrs. Tom’s refuge. Education is a harbor for many children in Kenya. She recalls that even as a child she understood that education would be good for her and would give her a better life. Because she loved learning, she was able to attend school through 8th grade. Because there were school fees and her family had no money, Mrs. Tom’s teacher would hide her when the authorities came around to collect fees, she was not on the register; she was able to attend school for free.

Her adult journey began working at a preschool in her area. Eventually, she began her own school for children like her, in unfortunate and distressing circumstances… children who are orphans, have no guidance and no place to go. It became her mission to bring these children together, feed them and help them learn. It was in a small building on the edge of Lake Victoria where she began and where International Artist Nancy Noel found her when out one day looking for things in Kenya to photograph and paint. That was ten years ago.

Today, the N A Noel School holds over 200 children, but there is still much work to do. The children arrive to be taken in by Mrs. Tom almost daily and the school continues to grow.

N A Noel School

N A Noel School

Through the generosity of Nancy Noel and the efforts of Women Like Us Foundation and others, the school has made strides. But the work is never done.

As part of the Women Like Us humanitarian travel effort, we traveled to Rusinga last year and met the children. While there, we taught music, played sports, and brought school supplies. Women Like Us Foundation has funded the building of latrines, sent dollars for millet, rice and beans, which is used for porridge for the children in the morning, and lunch for those who can pay a fee to eat it. There are 185 children who cannot afford to eat lunch. For the children that do eat lunch, it is only available twice per week. Women Like Us Foundation has implemented a lunch program and most

Latrines built at the N A Noel School

Latrines built at the N A Noel School

recently is creating a project to build a garden and teach the children and Mrs. Tom how to tend to it on their own. What Mrs. Tom started is continuing. But the job is never done in Kenya. Textbooks, teachers and more space for the children are imperative. Mrs. Tom continues to believe that children can have a better life. So do we!

Mrs. Tom and her family live at one end of the tumbled down school. The dirt floors are swept and the children sleep six across a bed and six more on the floor. The food provided for the school is shared with her family. The journey continues. It is a life of need and hope, every day.

Read more about Mrs. Tom and the school at www.womenlikeusfoundation.org.

 

Former Kenyan First Lady Ida Odinga-A Position of Strength

“It’s good to be a wife, but it’s good to be an educated wife. Being a wife, it’s just not a position of subordination — it’s a position of strength.”
Ida Odinga=  Former First Lady of Kenya.

We were in Rusinga Island, Kenya.  Our mission of traveling the country, meeting the women who are creating positive change, hearing their stories and understanding their spirit as only one woman can to another, when the unexpected happened.

Little did we know when we started on our journey with 17 women and teen girls that there would be a woman awaiting us, an unexpected woman, not of poverty and frustration, but nevertheless just like us and the others we were to meet; a woman of passion and conviction for a better world.

Do you believe that things come into your life because they’re supposed to?  Do you believe that change happens, events unfold, and relationships take place because powerful energy is working it out for us?

That’s how we felt the day Raila and Ida Odinga, former prime minister and first lady of Kenya, landed in their helicopter at our private little lodge on Rusinga Island, at the edge of Lake Victoria in Northern Kenya.

They were there for holiday.  They were there for political reasons as Prime Minister Odinga had just spoken out against President Kenyatta about the problem of terrorism in Western Kenya and the Somalis terrorist attacks.  They were there because they would touch our hearts, give us insight into Kenya and connect with us in our role of changing the lives of people around the world.  But none of us knew that when we woke up on Friday morning, June 20, 2014

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Ida and me. An early morning conversation that began a new friendship and sisterhood for change.

Because our lodge was small and only accommodated our little group, we were asked if we could double up to make room for a special and unexpected overnight guest.  And we did.

As our group ate dinner, we could view the two of them having their dinner in a makeshift area in the manager’s office, so as not to disturb our group.  Watching the World Cup, the news broke in about Odinga’s stand earlier that day on exposing the terrorism problem in Kenya.  He stated that it does exist.  And Kenyatta should come together with all Kenyan’s including himself, to stand up in unity against the Somalis.

Leaving for their room, they walked past our table and Sally invited Ida to join us for a glass of wine.  Ida said “yes”.  And that, my friends, was the beginning of a fabulous conversation about being a first lady in Kenya, about the importance of education particularly for girls, about rising up against FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) a barbaric tradition that still lives there.

She told us of her efforts to bring women together in leadership for a better Kenya through founding and developing the League of Women Voters and Ida spoke of motherhood, raising 4 children on her own while her husband was in political prison for ten years. And she spoke of her support of our work and her intent to partner with Women Like Us Foundation for a better world.

A friend of Winnie Mandella, she knows what it is to stand up for the rights of others and speak out as a woman for a better world.

Yes, indeed, Ida Odinga is a Woman Like Us. In 2010 the Standard Press stated she was the second most powerful woman in Kenya.  Her story is different but her passions are shared with all of us.  Just like the other women we met on our journey in Africa.

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Ida being interviewed by Catt Sadler of E! News. Our crew Lindsay and Rebecca making it happen.

At the end of the evening, Ida agreed to meet us at 7AM for an interview to be used in our documentary.  Her words were clear, her passion was obvious and her love for her country was evident.

And, when all was done and we posed for a picture together, former Prime Minister Odinga stepped out of his cottage and asked to be in the photo with us.  When we asked him where he was headed next, he told us he was off to lead a public rally.  He and Ida, leading the way for the future of Kenya.

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Our producer Sally Colon-Petree, Catt Sadler, former first lady Ida Odinga, Linda Rendleman, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Lindsay Rich. Thanks Rebecca Carpernter for taking this photo.

 

 

 

Kenya, Nancy Noel, and Fox59 News

What could three seemingly unrelated topics like Kenya, famous international artist Nancy Noel, and a major news broadcasting program possibly have in common? Women Like Us.

In case you do not know about this particular facet of Women Like Us, we passionately support the NA Noel Pre-School in Kenya. Famous artist Nancy Noel from our very own Noblesville, Indiana started this school after one of her trips to Africa in search for artistic inspiration. Instead, she found inspiration to change the lives of those who so desperately needed a safe, comfortable place to receive an education. If you would like to find out more information about how this all started and how Women Like Us has helped in the past check out our website here: https://www.womenlikeusfoundation.org/nanoel/#sthash.Y2QZXb64.dpbs

You can still travel with us.

 

This summer Women Like Us will be traveling yet again to Kenya! A group of passionate Women Like Us supporters, along with our International Spokesperson Catt Sadler from E!News and our CEO Linda Rendleman, will be traveling to the beautiful country to volunteer with Nancy Noel, visit other women-led causes, and explore the plains of Africa for 12 days. More information can be found here: https://www.womenlikeusfoundation.org/trips.cfm?ID=5#sthash.9qc3kUG9.dpbs

How does FOX59 News fit into this ensemble of women led humanitarianism? For their PayItForward segment, Women Like Us and Nancy Noel will be featured on the morning of February 24, 2014. That is tomorrow! If you have a busy schedule like the rest of us, do not worry! You will have three opportunities to catch the segment. Be sure to tune in around 5:45 am, 8:15 am, or 9:50 am to see the great humanitarian work of Nancy Noel and how Women Like Us will be helping come this summer.

I leave you with this quote from our very own Nancy Noel, “Love”, we truly believe, “is the only thing that changes things”.

Update from Africa

This past month, a donation from CAbi Clothing for $1139! We hosted a CAbi Clothing party at the Sanctuary on March 14th, and had 30 guests in attendance. What a win-win evening, everyone got great clothing, and the school raised much needed funds. A bank wire of $1000 was sent by WLUF on May 15th. The money will be used for the general needs at the school. Starting in June, Mallory Getty, will be working for us as an intern which we are very excited about. We are still trying to get 230 mosquito nets to the school. The IU/Kenya program was assisting in getting the nets to Eldoret, Kenya; however, due to unrest in the area, volunteers have not been traveling to that region.We are always in need of funds to assist the school with their food program, school supplies, etc. Please refer to the ‘wish list’ on our website, www.nanoel.com.