n 2006, we decided to raise $3,000 for an orphanage then being set up to help 25 African children orphaned by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. We had no idea that today we’d be helping hundreds of children and their families working through ten community projects. We also didn’t realize that our fledgling organization, African Childrens Haven, would grow so quickly or gain the support of so many people around the world. Much to our surprise, by the end of that first year we had raised nearly $20,000 thanks to the generosity our many friends and colleagues and an assist from the Houston Chronicle.
Today, African Childrens Haven is helping more than 700 kids in Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania. Our work includes support for education, health and sanitation, and, perhaps, most importantly the care and safety of children put at risk by disease, neglect, and violence.
Because we lived in Africa for many years, and continue to work there, we were also able to put in place a network of colleagues who work directly with our projects to ensure that donor funds are well spent. These “associates” all work as unpaid volunteers.
Each of the projects we support were founded and are run by local people and most do not receive financial help from large non-profits or government aid programs. And, because our organization is small our operating costs are low. Ninety cents of every dollar raised goes directly to helping kids. We also help our partners raise their own funds and manage their money effectively, a process that builds the capacity of our African partners and helps ensure their futures.
Back in 2006 when we first began, we never thought that our small organization would have raised more than $1 million and that it would continue to generate more than $100,000 each year in donations. For that we are extremely grateful to our many friends and supporters, all of whom have helped to literally save lives and ensure that children at risk have the means to get an education and climb out of poverty.
Linda Ercole-Musso and Ed Sulzberger
Co-Founders of African Childrens Haven