Tessa Clarance, a recent graduate from Whistler Secondary School, has teamed up with mother Melanie Clarance to collect used toys and baby clothes in the Whistler community for a much-in-need orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya.
Tessa has been volunteering in Nairobi for the past month and decided to launch the drive after seeing the extremely harsh conditions at the East African facility.
The Nairobi Children’s Home houses 80 to 150 kids each day and receives only the most basic funding from the Kenyan government. Clothes and other basic commodities such as stationery, toothbrushes, and washing machine detergent are in short supply.
“These kids, ranging from eight days old to 10 years, have been victims of constant abuse, abandonment, and AIDS. Many of them are the products of prostitutions,” said Tessa.
“They are very sweet and extremely appreciative of anything we give them and treasure it forever. Unfortunately there are never enough toys to go around and many of the clothes are tattered,” she said.
Most of the children came to the orphanage after being left on the streets of Kibera, the largest slum in Africa and home to a quarter of Nairobi’s population.
Tessa said because of the orphanage’s financial situation, they can’t afford to keep the kids in diapers and use plastic pants instead. The kids are kept on a strict diet of rice, kidney beans, and Ugali , a traditional maize flour dish, and the children play with anything they can find, including pieces of plastic or old hangers.
Items that the orphanage most needs are gently used clothes, shoes, and small toys for children ranging from newborn to 10 years of age.
Donation boxes will be set up at Whistler Secondary School during the Stephen Lewis talk Friday, as well as at Whistler’s Royal Bank branch until Friday, Nov. 9. Donated items will be delivered to Nairobi when Melanie visits Tessa in mid-November.
For more information about the clothing and toy drive, contact Melanie at 604-938-5816.