Saturday, March 27, 2010

About the Mother's Day Cards

You are probably going to hear us start talking about a very special Mother's Day fundraiser we've got coming up, so I thought to tell you about it now!

I was very fortunate to have Johan from Pikto Gallery ( sponsor us in printing high quality photo greeting cards that we are selling for Mother's Day. Pikto is a super great photography store in the Distillery - they do professional photo finishing, camera classes, host photo exhibitions in their gallery, etc. I'm thankful for their support.

Three photo cards
We printed 200 cards with three designs. One is of a House Mother (women who look after the children at the orphanage) with a baby on her back; another is a black and white photo of a House Mother holding a sleeping child in her arms; the last is a group of boys at the orphanage hamming it up for the camera.

There is a note on the back of the card that says proceeds from the cards will go toward a scholarship fund to help the boys and girls of the Nzirambi Orphans Talent Development Centre go to school.

A special Mother's Day message
We decided to keep the cards blank inside so that they can be used for any occasion.
I gave one to my friend for her birthday and she loved it.

However, using a special, clear paper, we printed a special Mother's Day message that says:

With the purchase of this card you are
honouring the Ugandan mothers who died
during childbirth and the women who now
take care of their orphaned children.

There are 70 boys and girls at the
Nzirambi Orphan Talent Development Centre;
and seven House Mothers to care for and love them
as if they are their own children.

Thank you for your support. Happy Mother’s Day.

Please donate generously
For the cards, we are asking for a donation of $5, $10, $20 or more.

Please do contact myself, Monica or one of the sellers listed in the previous post if you are interested to make a donation.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Inspired People for an Inspiring Cause

The last few weeks have been a bit of a beehive of activity, so I thought to write a quick blog to update everyone and give a huge shout out to the people who are helping us.

Mother’s Day cards
One thing we are gearing up for is to sell cards for Mother’s Day. The cards have a photo of a House Mother or children on the front (The photo here is one of the ones on the card). Pikto Gallery in the Distillery ( gave us 50% off the price so that we could print high quality, super awesome photo cards for this.

We’ve managed to recruit tons of people to help sell them, and so far, we’ve put more than 150 out there. Some of the sellers are:

Jessica Taylor, Aynsley Morris, Jen Mayville, Judy Degagne, Natalie Francis, Nancy Horvath, Lindsay Tipping, Betty Noakes, Farah Ng, Sharon Snider, Kira Neves,Tungi and Nezahat. Kim McCutheon, Monica Kahindo and Cecile Peterkin are also helping to get these cards out into the world!

I’ll have more updates on these soon, or you can email me or Monica for info. If you want to purchase a card – for a donation – contact any of us listed here.

A special delivery
On April 15, Monica and I are sending a suitcase of stuff to the orphanage.

Jen Nehme, who has been following the blog and facebook page, donated a pile of her son’s clothing – we definitely need boys clothes as there are more boys than girls there. Fiona Wagner also offered some clothing, but I’m going to have to include her doantions in our next shipping.

I went to a clothing swap at Carey Toane’s house last weekend and picked up a few more clothing items to send over.

My mom and I couldn’t resist shopping for a few items to send over. The one item that makes me smile most is the Magic Chopper, or whatever that thing is. In Uganda, the women are grinding peanuts with mortars and it takes FOREVER and it also hurts your arms! So I promised when I was there to find something to make that one task a little bit easier. (They make an absolutely delicious stew with the peanuts).

I also heard today that Kira Neves' grade school class was so inspired by the pictures she drew for the orphanage that her entire class is going to write letters and send pictures for the children in Uganda. Way to go, Kira!

Thanks everyone for your support. We're off to a very good start.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Our first contribution to the orphanage this year

Today, Monica and I sent $450 to the orphanage to cover the outstanding school fees for Veronica’s final year of secondary school. Secondary education is not free in Uganda, and Veronica has extra fees because she boards at a school in Kampala, five hours away from the orphanage.

The fees for her school year are about the same amount that was raised through the sale of jewellery. So, for those of you who made a donation for one of the pieces – wear it proudly! You helped send a girl to school.

Also important, is that by making this contribution, we have eased the demands on the orphanage. It means that the UK charity involved can focus more of their funding on child survival – ensuring babies have formula, children have food, medical bills are paid for and that other basic necessities are covered.

This reminds me again of how easy it is to help these children. We only have to give a little for them to receive so much.

Thanks again for your support.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

the fisheye blog

Check out this great video of Lindsay talking about the contest she won and what inspired her to give her donation to the orphanage.

And the winner is....

This example with Lindsay is testament to what we can achieve if we keep telling people about the orphanage by posting notes on facebook, the blog or twitter. It's virtually impossible to not be inspired by these children.

We didn't know Lindsay before she made her donation, but we are really looking forward to having her on board as a volunteer to help us make our scholarship a reality.

It's so easy what we are trying to do. We don't need heaps of cash. But if everyone can just help a little bit - then we'll be successful.

It's going to be a very exciting year for the orphanage fundraising.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The African Vero Collection

On my recent travels through East Africa, I was able to buy/haggle/make trades for hand-made African beads. The beads include amber from Kenya, black and white African batik, hand-made clay from Tanzania, African wood and some very special beads that are made from paper by the women in Uganda.

The result is: The African Vero Collection, named after a 17-year-old girl at an orphanage I volunteered at in Uganda. Veronica is quite possibly one of the most ambitious teenagers I’ve ever met.

When she was just a baby her mother died of AIDS. Her father would not care for her; the youngest of seven siblings and the only girl in the family. She was brought to the orphanage, where she has been raised. Her friends there call her Vero.

Right now she is finishing her final semester of secondary school. Afterward, she plans to attend law school in a Kampala university. She’s smart enough to succeed – she has straight A’s and is the third highest scoring student in her district. The trouble is that there is no funding in place for her university.
What a shame for a young girl with such potential and drive to not be able to go to university because she cannot afford it.

Inspired by Veronica, I’ve started a Scholarship Fund to help her and the other orphaned children achieve higher levels of education. In the coming months, I’ll be talking up a storm about our fundraisers, including a special one for Mother’s Day.

As part of that, I’ve decided to donate ALL of the funds raised from this collection of jewellery to the Scholarship Fund. Because I’m not taking any profit from these sales, the pricing is different. You will see, for each piece, I’ve made a suggested donation price.

You can view photos of the jewellery on:
Facebook -
Flickr at

The jewellery was photographed by Patricia Loeppky – she did an incredible job. You can check out her photography on her Facebook page, Patrycja Loeppky Photography. Thank you, Patricia!

Also – thank you to Aynsley Morris who donated some of the beads used in these pieces. She purchased them during recent travels to Kenya and Ethiopia.

If you want to know more about the Nzirambi Orphans Talent Development Centre, check out our Facebook group at

Thank you for your support.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Cute Drawings

I wanted to share this great drawing of a snowman by Grade 4 pupil Kira Neves. Kira is 9 and she's drawing Canada's four seasons to send to the kids at the orphanage. I especially like how she writes "snowman" on top of the snowman because, Kira, you're right, there's no snow in Uganda so the kids there have never seen a snowman!

Her older sister Breanne Neves, in Grade 10, is planning to help with orphanage fundraising, and I've heard she already has some incredible ideas.

Thanks to Kira and Breanne!

I'm collecting any drawings or letters written by children to send to the orphanage. Great way to get your little ones involved and thinking of their African peers.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Yours is the only permission you need to go after your own goals

I'm writing this blog to send a huge THANK YOU to Lindsay Tipping and the Toronto ad agency, fisheye, for a donation they made today.

I received an email today informing me that a woman named Lindsay Tipping had entered and won a contest, and was donating the prize of $200 to the orphanage. The contest was held by fisheye (

I had no idea who Lindsay was or what the contest was. A little digging and I saw that Lindsay is a member of the Facebook group page that we just recently launched for the orphanage (Nzirambi Orphans Talent Development Centre). So I emailed her to find out how she heard of the orphanage.

Her enthusiasm for the orphanage is so infectious that I had to share it.
Here's her response:

Hey Karen,
Yesterday I saw the name of the orphanage on (a friend's) page and wandered over to the facebook page to check it out. Spent about an hour reading your blog and all the info on the orphanage. Was so enchanted and wishing I had a decent chunk of money to donate. And then 'boom', I got news that I won the contest.

At the beginning of the year I went to a 'housewarming' party for fisheye, an ad agency that I work with through my job at Harbourfront Centre. We all had to bring one piece of 'wisdom' that we'd learned in 2009 and one 'want' we had for 2010. My wisdom was "Yours is the only permission you need to go after your own goals." There was then an online vote and I guess my idea resonated with people cause it won!

I was dancing and jumping all over my office when I won and telling everyone about the orphanage. Everyone was really excited and feeling the reality check settle in about the fact that there are so many people out there in the world struggling to just have the basic things we can so often take for granted. Knowing that this little $200 can make a real difference to people is so amazing. And knowing that one little sentence I wrote somehow set this in motion is still blowing my mind. I can't stop smiling!!!


Thanks again, Lindsay. There is a team of us working so hard to build fundraising opportunities for the orphanage, and your unexpected support was a real boost to all of us. I look forward to staying connected with you.