Projects add up to make a big impact in Kenya

Millie Klumpp and Roselyn Conforti help underprivileged women and children in Kenya.
Millie Klumpp and Roselyn Conforti help underprivileged women and children in Kenya.

Today is Millie Klumpp’s birthday. She is celebrating her and her mother’s new partnership with nonprofit Appleseed Ministry, based in Arroyo Grande.

Now, people wanting to donate to Millie and Roselyn Conforti’s projects benefiting underprivileged women and children in Kenya can do so through Appleseed.

Two years ago, we did a column on Millie and her work providing a dormitory, freshwater well, mosquito nets and eco-toilets for the school she attended as a teenager. Millie and Roselyn have provided well for the school, and now they want to help other schools in the Kisumu district of Kenya.

In the past two-and-a-half years, they have “raised $100,000 for all the projects we have done thanks to this great community and family and friends,” Millie enthused.

Salome Olweya was Roselyn’s mother and Millie’s grandmother. Salome lived in Maseno in west Kenya. She is the inspiration for Millie and Roselyn in their continued work to help the impoverished people of that part of Kenya.

Salome was married at 14 as a third wife. She had eight children of her own. Her husband was a civil servant and could not support his three wives and 22 children on his salary.

Thus, Salome began selling porridge under a tree by the roadside, baking scones on an open fire and serving boiled maize and beans, sweet potatoes and cassava. Next, she trained to tailor and knit, walking long distances until she was able to buy a bicycle.

In time, she bought sewing and knitting machines and began to train other women to make school uniforms. Kenyan children must wear school uniforms, a financial hardship for most families.

Eventually, Salome bought some land, built a hotel and a bar, and later added rental units. Quite an accomplishment for a poor country girl married at 14!

Later, Salome learned to read and write.

Said Roselyn, “I learned a lot from her, emulated her and also single-handedly managed to bring up my children.” Roselyn was married at 15 and bettered her status by taking evening typing classes and studying shorthand on her own.

“My daughter Millie and I are carrying on my mum’s legacy, and that is why we are now hoping to empower underprivileged women and children” at more schools, she said. “We hope to keep helping the Handicapped Children’s Orphanage at Kendu Bay, since my mum was one of the co-founders.”

Roselyn is going to Kenya in January for months to oversee the new projects.

Their first priority is buying mosquito nets and sewing machines. Without mosquito nets, children could get malaria and die. Sewing machines ensure a living for young women, instead of needing to get married very young, work as housemaids or worse.

Other projects include building houses for grandmothers who often must raise their grandchildren because of the parents dying of AIDS. Roselyn and Millie plan to give presentations on their projects to local groups here.

Appleseed Ministry benefits women and children in several African countries. To get more information, host a presentation or donate, go to www.appleseedministry.com/millie, or call 709-4228 or email kenduone@sbcglobal.net.

Gayle Cuddy’s column is special to The Tribune. She and Cynthia Lambert write the South County Beat column on alternating Wednesdays. Reach Cuddy at 489-1026 or nightengayles@aol.com.