Lambert aims to raise funds for African relief organization

Kathy Lambert’s heart broke, but her motivation bubbled as she walked through the African slums. The King County Council member and Redmond resident saw firsthand the poverty and challenges facing children and families in the poor and primitive communities. Now she is leading a fundraising effort to help the cause after an eye-opening trip to Kenya in June with WorldComp Kenya Relief International, a religious organization focused on helping improve the lives of people in the slums.

Kathy Lambert’s heart broke, but her motivation to help bubbled as she walked through the African slums.

The King County Council member and Redmond resident saw firsthand the poverty and challenges facing children and families in the poor and primitive communities. Now she is leading a fundraising effort to help the cause after an eye-opening trip to Kenya in June with WorldComp Kenya Relief International, a religious organization focused on helping improve the lives of people in the slums.

Breakfast is not an option for the caring kids, who survive off of only one meal day. Open trenches next to their hut-like homes serve as the sewer system. The small classrooms are dark with no electricity, but packed with eager students. And with a lack of educational resources and guidance, many children have to beg or prostitute for money.

All of that hit an emotional nerve with Lambert, a former teacher and member of the King County Board of Health.

“The kids in the slum are stuck,” she said. “They don’t get an education unless a group outside helps provide them with the education so WorldComp has started two schools.”

Lambert visited both schools — one in the Kibera slums and another located in the Dagoretti slums. A former teacher for the Monroe School District, Lambert donated some her teaching books and resources she had stored in her garage to the Lenana Primary School in Dagoretti. She said she plans to make a return trip next summer and bring more school items to the school.

Lambert also spent her time at the school reading to children, helping organize the library and working with the teachers, showing them tricks of the trade. She was there when WorldComp set up electricity for the first time at the school, so the students could see during their lessons.

Despite the dire situation, students flock to the tiny hut-like classrooms because they were eager to learn — and eat, according to Lambert. Many of the children only get one meal a day — some beans and a banana.

“They were literally in there like sardines,” Lambert said of the school conditions. “There’s no space for them, but they want to be there because they are safe, they are learning and they get fed one meal a day and for many of these kids that’s the only meal they get during the day.”

Lambert is hoping to raise money to get the 350 children at the school in Dagoretti some breakfast food. Lambert, along with Woodinville resident Lucy DeYoung, is holding a pair of fundraisers to raise awareness of the struggles facing the Keyan people.

Lambert will be conduct a slideshow at the Woodinville Heritage Museum Friday, Oct. 14 from 5-8 p.m. and another Saturday, Oct. 15 from 3-5 p.m. at the museum, located at 14121 N.E. 171st in Woodinville. Lambert said she is hoping people will donate to the cause after seeing the images she captured during her trip.

“We realize that there are many charity needs here too, but this will give people an opportunity to also support needs internationally,” Lambert said of the fundraisers. “The support will go directly to the school to help feed the children who mostly get only one meal a day.”

During her trip to Africa, Lambert visited the Shikusa Boys Detention Center, where hundreds of teens live and work on a farm, which was more like a forced labor camp before WorldComp lent a hand three years ago. The organization set up vocational training and recreational programs as well as a school on site. WorldComp improved the center and has made a huge difference in the lives of the boys, Lambert said.

She also traveled to the village of Kimbo to participate in the official dedication of the new Kimbo well, another project fueled by WorldComp, with the help of the local church and residents.

Lambert connected with WorldComp when her friends Richard and Valerie Vicknair, the organization’s founders, urged her to go.

The couple, former head ministers at the Westside Church in Seattle according to Lambert, has made more than 25 trips to Kenya since 1979.

Originally an evangelistic mission, the organization widened their web and began helping with improving the societal, health and economic issues by working with Keyan nationals. Their projects include teaching literacy, feeding children, helping HIV/AIDS infected families, assisting widows through microfinance programs and working with juvenile offenders in rehabilitation efforts, like the one at the Shikusa Boys Detention Center.

Lambert said WorldComp’s efforts are making a big difference in the lives of these people — who “are happy with whatever you give them,” despite living in poverty and unhealthy conditions.

“They live so close to the edge of life and death on a daily basis that they are so appreciative to see you,” Lambert said. “They really engage with you. You really feel their warmth.”