I am a board member for the nonprofit organization Reason2Smile, which is led by an extraordinary 27-year-old, Keela Dates. After graduating from college in 2006, Keela volunteered for three months at the Jambo Jipya school in Mtwapa, Kenya. This experience was life-altering, and upon arriving home, Keela decided to form Reason2Smile. She has dedicated her life to financially assisting the Jambo Jipya school as well as the education of at-risk children in other developing countries. She believes education provides the opportunity to better one’s life and end the cycle of poverty.
Jambo Jipya was founded in 2004 by Kenyan native Christine Mwende. The name means “Something New” in Swahili. Mwende recognized the lack of care and attention from which many poor and orphaned children of Mtwapa suffered and decided to act. In 2006, Keela arrived at this school and joined forces with Mwende. Jambo Jipya started as a couple of mud huts and a handful of children; today, 300 children attend the school with a staff of certified Kenyan teachers. Forty-four of the children are orphans and live at the Future Child Orphanage. The school consists of kindergarten through 11th grade, with plans to expand to 12th grade next year. The children receive uniforms, school supplies, basic health care and two meals a day. None of these accomplishments would be possible without these two remarkable women.
Nominated by Donna Rosenblum of Merrick, New York
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