Quietly Making a Difference – Ray Vos and Friends
Helping others across the globe to obtain housing, education and safe drinking water.Posted Sep 27, 2013
Here at Eartheasy, we learned about Ray Vos’s Kenya Initiative when he approached us for a discount on LifeStraws. He wanted to bring them as gifts during his upcoming trip to Kenya this past June, to help provide community members access to safe drinking water.
We admire Ray and his friends for their efforts in helping others, and wanted to tell his story by way of acknowledgement, and with hopes that his example may inspire others.
In 2009, Ray Vos had a conversation with friends Irwin and Sue Streight returning from a summer in Kenya, providing charity work at a local hospital. This conversation would spark a personal initiative for Ray that has since changed the lives of children and young adults half a world away.
Ray learned of the conditions of individuals and families in small townships in parts of Kenya, where residents struggle with poverty, lack of opportunities, substandard housing, the scourge of disease and the lack of safe drinking water. He and his friends were moved to begin art fundraisers to support their educational and housing needs.
The Gallery Raymond website was established for humanitarian relief, and continues to this day. Proceeds from art sales (100% of all proceeds!) are directed towards the needs in Kenyan communities.
One of the individuals Ray heard about was John Njane. A former gang member, John has a vision to rescue orphaned kids off the streets of the hard-living town of Mai Mahiu in Kenya’s troubled Rift Valley region. These boys, aged 12-16, are largely orphans or abandoned children of town prostitutes. When John met them, they were stealing to eat, and until recently were living together in a corrugated-metal hut the size of a garden shed. John rented a house for them and began providing full-time care, including tutoring in basic literacy and math so the boys could enter school.
John has a remarkable passion and energy and commitment to help his people. An American administrator at a nearby mission school who has worked with John remarked, “There is simply no one else like him here.”
Since The Kenya Initiative began, enough money has been raised to enable five of the street boys to live with John and his family on a parcel of land donated by an American church. The boys are now well fed and clothed and are in their fifth semester in primary and secondary school.
Up the hill in the town of Kijabe, Isaac and Caleb worked at odd jobs and general labouring for the going rate of about $1 a day. They were saving money to attend university. Both boys were leaders in the community and strong students who had graduated from high school. Their father died in 2007 of complications resulting from chronic asthma. The boys lived modestly with their mother Elizabeth, who is a teacher at a nearby elementary school.
Since then, The Kenya Initiative has raised enough money to send Isaac and Caleb to Daystar University in Nairobi, Kenya. They are now finishing their University courses. Their dreams are being realized through their educational opportunity.
A need for safe drinking water
In June 2013, Ray and his friend Irwin Streight had a chance to travel to Kenya for two weeks to meet the folks they have supported. Ray had heard from John Njane that he and his family and the five street boys that he has taken into his home often got sick because of contaminated drinking water. An American church had provided funds for a well to be dug, but unfortunately by the time the pail of water was drawn, the water was already contaminated by banging against the dirt walls.
At this point there hasn’t been enough funds to purchase a motorized method of drawing water and an appropriate water tank. Until then, Ray thought the Lifestraws will help reduce sickness.
“I had been holding onto an article on the Lifestraw that I found in the paper recently. I thought the Lifestraw would be an excellent help to some of my friends in Kenya. We also visited John Njane’s mother and his extended family near Thika, Kenya as well. She is sixty years old and has had eleven children, many who live by her in the family compound. She apparently has had health issues and needed cleaner water to take with her medication. I presented her with the Lifestraw and showed her and her care-giver granddaughter how to effectively use it.“
“The rest of the Lifestraws I gave to John to distribute. Once a month he delivers bags of food to the 15 widows he takes responsibility for. My Mother is a regular contributor to “The Kenya Initiative” and offered to host a few garage sales to raise money to cover the costs of the Lifestraws. I found that Eartheasy had the best price for the Lifestraws, and after a pleasant phone call, they were happy to reduce the price and ship them to me for my upcoming trip to Kenya. I also was very pleased that for every 10 Lifestraws purchased, one would be given to a developing country by Eartheasy.”
My mother raised the money to purchase the LifeStraws through Garage sales.
Ray’s story of individual initiative struck a chord with us at Eartheasy. After Ray returned from his trip to Kenya he wrote us a Thank You note for helping him with the LifeStraws. We would like to turn the “Thank You” around and point it right to Ray Vos, his mother, Irwin Streight, John Njane and others who have taken action to improve the lives of others. Congratulations to you all!
We at Eartheasy are happy to further contribute to your program as it progresses. Your initiative is inspiring!
Note: Images for this article are approved for publication thanks to John Njane.