FAQs, Hamomi Childrens Centre

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Who is Lift Up Africa?

Lift Up Africa is our 501c3 partner in the United States that manages, processes and handles all donations and activities related to Hamomi in the United States. LUA provides support and services to build our knowledge, power and effectiveness. In addition, they work with us on our projects and provide financial support. As a partner we are able to share and work together on two continents to achieve our goals. To learn more, please visit www.LiftUpAfrica.org or visit Hamomi's page on their site here.

How did Hamomi get started?

Hamomi was founded in 1999 by Raphael Etenyi, a member of the community. He started teaching 7 kids under an avocado tree. 4 of these kids were without homes, so he found people in the community to be their guardians. With demand so high in a slum estimated to have 100,000-500,000 inhabitants, the makeshift school grew and grew. Raphael quit his paying job as a bagger in a grocery store to run Hamomi. His wife left him because of this choice, so he became a single father of 2. By 2007, when Raphael and Susie Marks formed a team, Hamomi was comprised of 3 full-time Kenyan volunteers and 100 students. It has remained a truly grassroots organization.

Who works at Hamomi?

Hamomi has 3 directors. The Executive Director of Hamomi-Kenya is Raphael, the founder (see above). The Managing Director, Musumba Esau joined Raphael in 2000. He also gave his entire life to Hamomi. He previously worked for another NGO but after his branch closed he was out of a job and joined Hamomi in 2000. Musumba stayed even as his wife died of Typhoid, making him a single father of 2, and worked without pay for 8 years. The Executive Director of Hamomi-USA is Susie Marks, who met the Hamomi team in 2007 and asked to help them reach their long term goals. In exploring what that meant, the enormity of the task became clear and her commitment solidified. She heads the advocacy arm in Seattle, WA.

Hamomi staffs its primary school with 6 full time salaried teachers and 5 volunteers on stipend from within the Kangemi community. Many of them are under-qualified, but become qualified as we encourage them to continue their educations, send them for trainings and certifications, and train them in Hamomi's curriculum. Many staff members worked for free for years, and to this day still work below the poverty line. They are more than employees - they are integral, passionate pieces of our vision. It is a central goal to get every employee up to livable wage - this would better ensure a quality education for our students.

How does Hamomi determine who it enrolls in its programs?

In such a densely populated, impoverished area, there are more who qualify for Hamomi's programs than we can enroll. Students qualify who are living in extreme poverty, the school maintains a 50-50 girl to boy ratio, and there is a high turnover rate as it is a transient community. Therefore we enroll students based on a combination of need, vacancy in specific grade levels and gender. Hamomi announces in November, through students, parents, guardians and staff, that it will conduct an admission day for anyone who wants to be admitted. Homes are assessed on December 1 of each year followed by admission. An example is if there is one vacancy in Class 4 and we need a boy to keep a 50/50 ratio, then we will admit a child that fits these requirements who also qualified for Hamomi's programs during assessment.

How many people does Hamomi serve?

Hamomi's primary school enrolls 120 students. At this primary school, the students also gain access to Hamomi's feeding program and medical program. Hamomi primary school graduates are awarded scholarships to continue their educations, and has thus far awarded 24 scholarships. Hamomi employs 13 Kenyans from within the community, and they receive access to the feeding and medical programs as well.

How do you measure Hamomi's impact?

Hamomi successfully educates, feeds and case-manages 120 children every year through the Hamomi Primary School. Hamomi's medical program has gotten its students up to a 90% health rate in 2012. Previous rates are not accurately measured, but for a demographic of urban children in an extremely impoverished setting, 90% is a startlingly high percentage. As a result of all of our incentives to stay in school, 96% of our primary school graduation candidates continue their educations.

However, Hamomi's long-term development approach is not quick or sexy. We are raising children and we are raising them well, unconcerned with quick turnaround. Parents know how long it takes to raise children, and the same is true for us. Our achievements are clear in small, short term ways, like our low drop-out rate, but these are not the ways we measure our long-term success in alleviating extreme poverty. This will be measured, but our oldest students are still in high school and for now we are concerned with laying the groundwork so that they become the adults that will impact Kenya and change their worlds.

How is Hamomi funded?

Hamomi is funded almost entirely through individual donations with an average donation size of under $100 and no individuals' donation exceeding $6,000 a year. We had a budget of $84,500 in 2012. The usual order of events for NGOs is that an operating budget is determined and then the staff and board run around trying to make budget. Hamomi raises the money first and then decides how most effectively to spend that sum across its many programs. Therefore if you are wondering how much Hamomi needs - the answer is as much as we can get! The more we have to spend, the more expansive and effective we can make our programs.

What are Hamomi's overhead costs?

In the nonprofit world, somewhere near 20% overhead costs are considered standard. Hamomi's administrative costs in 2012 were under 10%. We are very proud of the fact that our donors can know their money is going directly to Hamomi. Our partnership with Lift Up Africa means we don't have to hire a full time administrator but pay 7% of donations to their administrator. This percentage is much, much less than we would need to pay a CPA, bookkeeper and lawyer. This also means that Hamomi's administrative branch is able to focus in depth on the programmatic level. Half of Hamomi-USA's job is program development.

Why support international causes with so much domestic need?

To run Hamomi's programs in the US, it would cost about $10,000 a day - our annual budget would last 8 days. To be effective at Hamomi, we require such a small percentage of what it requires to be effective in the US. Giving to Hamomi doesn't need to be an alternative to supporting your domestic organizations. These can be done hand-in-hand as Hamomi doesn't compete on the same budget playing field.

Therefore, we believe you can and should care about both. We have real domestic issues, but we also have a responsibility to recognize and advocate for the needs of people all around the world who are battling poverty we will never know. Developed nations played a significant role in how the world's wealth got distributed, and while that needn't make us walk around feeling guilty, it should give us a sense of duty to one another.

Why is Hamomi different than other Africa nonprofits?

It's easy to mistake Hamomi for an orphanage, a sponsorship program or just a school. This stems from preconceived notions about non-profits, informed by the excess of 'Africa' NGOs. Many have conditioned concerned people to this line of thinking. We are battling the conditioning that orphans must live in orphanages and that one organization must offer only one service. With a lifetime of information telling you about a homogenous Africa, it can be hard to envision an Africa that is diverse and complex. Hamomi's multi-faceted strategy is grounded in a very American approach. When it comes to domestic, US issues, we understand complexity and the need for comprehensive care.

Some examples: We do not have orphanages in the US, we have foster care. We don't have soup kitchens which don't also offer needle exchanges, case workers, job skills training and other services that address the complications of hunger and homelessness. We know free education in our inner cities is not enough to battle all the obstacles in these neighborhoods. Hamomi says the exact same thing. We will serve each child thoroughly, holistically and all the way through the end. So Hamomi is less akin to CARE or World Vision, and more inspired by Harlem Children's Zone and Growing Power.

 


 

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