Reaching Around the World

Dec 08, 2012

When I joined Kiwanis in 2005, my first assignment was to lead other new members to identify a new service project for the Kiwanis Club of Chester, Virginia. We failed. With over 200 established service groups in our area, we were unable to find a local need that was not already being addressed.

Several months later, Kiwanis International President Dave Curry came to town and talked about the impact Kiwanis clubs were having in South and Central America. You could tell by Dave’s tone of voice that he was impressed with the impact these clubs were having on their communities by building sports complexes, medical clinic, etc. And some of these clubs had about 40 members! The same size as my club.

I finally realized I already knew the answer. It was a charity I had been supporting since seeing it featured a few years earlier on Oprah: the Nepal Youth Opportunity Foundation, founded by Olga Murray. In some areas of Nepal, very poor families sell their daughters, some as young as 9 years old, into indentured servitude contracts for $50 a year. Sometimes, these children are beaten or abused. Some families never see their daughter again.

NYOF offers a goat or a pig to the parents as payment for the child’s services for a year. Parents learn they can breed the animals before selling them and after a few years, the family leaves poverty behind. NYOF also pays the child’s tuition ($50) to a local school and later, it funds their enrollment in a college or a trade school.

Each year our sponsored Key Club at Thomas Dale High School supports an international charity. By offering to match the Key Club’s donation to NYOF, I hoped our kids would find it interesting to learn about other kids who do not have the opportunity to attend school. And maybe get the next generation of Americans leaders interested in helping NYOF’s efforts. The Key Club raised money from its members and the club’s advisors. Enough money was donated to free six young girls from this practice and to send them to school for a year.

Shared by: David Elswick


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