Our Safe Haven Project is A Work of Heart’s biggest project undertaken to-date, and various people and organizations have reached out to offer assistance. Our newest partnership with the University of Guelph’s The Centre for Business and Social Entrepreneurship (CBaSE) program, is starting to take off.
MGMT*4060 is a course designed to provide senior undergraduate students from the University of Guelph with an opportunity to pursue an applied course of study while engaging with the local community. A team of four students has been paired up with A Work of Heart, to conduct research and create plans to best leverage Living Positive Kenya’s (LPK) current resources and benefit the Mathare community in Kenya. The team aims to combine cause-related marketing, health and sanitation, environmental, empowerment, and social entrepreneurship in their final recommendations.
The team is composed of four motivated University of Guelph business students:
Karina Bogle is in her final semester of Marketing Management at the University of Guelph. Alongside school, she runs a small jewelry business. Karina is excited to have just launched a collection of bracelets with 100% of the profits going directly to supporting the Safe Haven project.
Brittany Ho is a fourth year business student and currently works in social media marketing. This year, Brittany also co-founded an online fashion community named ethreeone, which aims to empower young women in the business world. She is most eager to analyze how microfinancing, combined with environmentally friendly solutions, will best empower the women of the community.
Eamonn McGuinty is a fourth year business student focusing his studies on the business of food and international food security. He is passionate about the global food systems and cares deeply about big issues such as improvements in food security through poverty alleviation and income equality. He is excited to explore social entrepreneurship structures and strategies for A Work of Heart and looks forward to the challenges ahead.
Kevin Pietrobon is a third year student studying business with an emphasis in accounting. He has a strong passion for entrepreneurial initiatives and is eager to study and analyze the views and attitudes of the Mathare community towards government healthcare. Kevin hopes this research will bridge the gap between culture and healthcare, positively impacting the children and community surrounding the Safe Haven project.
The primary goal for this project is to conduct cultural and needs assessment research in order to assess the economic, market, political, and cultural environment of the area. Such research will be aimed to provide an understanding of the practices and generation of a business development model for the Safe Haven ensuring the centre will be fully sustainable (environmentally, and economically). Suggestions and recommendations on business practices (selling of crops, clothing, etc.) in order to generate and cover housing expenses and maintaining a healthy standard of living for the women and children using the space. Possible outreach plan (marketing plan) that is well-suited for the sensitive target audience for those in the area including an in-depth analysis and identification of the target market characteristics, primary needs, and contingency plans.
A secondary goal, is to raise awareness through various campaigns and initiatives generated by the student team including programs educating on the issue and importance of sustainability, funding, and other (i.e.: Etsy running projects where hand-made products such as jewellery and clothing are to be sold to the North American market where sales would be used to purchase building materials etc.). Also including and not limited to marketing of A Work of Heart’s existing online initiatives.
We are very excited to see the results from this amazing group of students! Stay Tuned 🙂
If you were to ask me how I came up with the idea to start ‘A Work of Heart,’ I can pin point it back to two moments during a student volunteer trip to Kenya.
I was standing in a run down internet cafe, looking at a small selection of postcards for sale. The one that stood out was a Zebra standing in a stream of water. I told my teammate I was going to paint it. My team mate who didn’t believe i could paint it, told me that if I did, he would buy it. I had never considered selling my paintings before. I painted as hobby.
Later during my trip I met a little girl named Doris. She lived in the local slum I was working in. She wasn’t attending school, and getting herself in very grown up trouble. This was certainly going to lead to a bleak future for her. It was down right heart breaking to observe.
When I sold my Zebra painting, I used the money to sponsor Doris for one year. Doris is now in boarding school, receiving three meals a day, a place to sleep at night, and is receiving an education that can take her miles away from the drug filled streets of the slum, she use to live in.
I loved how my art not only sold, but did something for someone.
I wanted to do it again.
I made a Facebook group showing pictures of my work. Anyone could send me a photo and I would turn into it a piece of art. I would then give a portion of my earnings to, The Global Youth Network. This is an NGO that I have worked and traveled with for years. I know from first hand experience that it provides amazing experiences for students and has strong relationships with charities around the world.
This idea is still small, but I have seen it grow in the past few months. It is now a Registered Ontario Business, I half finished canvas lining my walls, I have an amazing board of people working with me to push it further, and now we have a website.
I think the people who will want to be apart of this don’t just see an art business, but understand the message it’s making. It’s about causing positive change from personal success. We all have the potential to be successful, and then use it to make a difference.
I look at my paintings and don’t see just art, I see charities being supported, I see Daycare’s being built, I see a little girl named Doris getting the chance to go to school. I see change.
It’s not just a piece of art, its a work of heart.
A Work Of Heart has completed Day Care project in the Mathare Slum of Ngong Hills, Kenya.
During their rainy season, water from adjacent garbage dumps flow into the daycare playgrounds and make for an unsanitary play area. Also, the ground become very and soggy making for the daycare classrooms very muddy. With the help of LPK, we’ve collaboratively come up with a plan to help alleviate this problem, among a few others.
First, This project will help to create a stimulating educational environment which will affect the lives of more than 30 children. The women of the community have expressed the need for education for their children to keep them away from the dangers of slum life.
Second, by having their children in Daycare the women of this community will have the freedom to seek employment and begin to financially provide for their families. This will have an impact on the feminist movement currently happening in this slum. These women will now be able to work- just like the men do.
It is known that when a person living with HIV maintains a balanced, healthy diet and medical treatment, they can continue living a fulfilling life. One of the most crippling side effects of HIV is the social stigma surrounding it and how others respond. Isolation can lead to depression and cause the immune system to drop, allowing AIDS to take over more rapidly. Since the beginning of the epidemic, almost 60 million people have been infected with HIV and 25 million people have died from HIV-related causes. Kenya is home to one of the world’s harshest HIV and AIDS epidemics with an estimated 1.5 million people living with HIV. Employment will allow these women to afford their basic needs.
Furthermore having a job provides a sense of purpose and boosts morale. When a person living with HIV maintains a healthy diet and a positive life they can maintain their illness in a similar way that a diabetic would maintain their diabetes. They could live their whole life and never transition to AIDS. The community of women who we will be working closely with, Living Positive, allows women to come together to talk openly about their illness and receive support and encouragement. This daycare will help push Living Positive’s development forward.
Finally, many volunteers who take on a task similar to this do not realize that bringing foreign supplies and non-local workers can cause more harm than good. For example, by bringing supplies you put certain business at risk of losing costumers which will affect their employers, families of employers and maybe even their children’s ability to go to school- considering that school costs could no longer be paid by the parent. We plan to break this cycle by spending our fundraised money directly in the slum on building supplies, and on local community workers. This will generate money flow and bring a small amount of wealth to this area. When working with the community we won’t disregard their existing systems, rather we will help them grow.