Carmel kids give hope to kids in Kenya

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More than 200 volunteers participate on Carnival day!

It began as a Carmel mom’s idea to show her kids another side of life beyond their upper-middle class suburban lifestyle, but what started as a parenting lesson has exploded into a community project called “Ken-Ya Help Us?”

Occurring Saturday, Sept. 1 from 2-6 p.m. at Second Presbyterian Church, 7700 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, the Kenya Carnival is the program’s premiere event and has raised more than $100,000 to support 120 Kenyan students through high school in its first four years.

Carmel student Lizzie Booher, left, and Sarah Matthews take part in the dirt and dung hut-building process.

What makes the carnival unique is that it is student-led.

“We empower students from both Kenya and our local community, allowing Indianapolis students to take charge of planning the carnival and running our organization,” said 2012 Co-leader Ben Booher, a junior at Carmel High School. “The creativity of kids along with the guidance of adult mentors makes our organization a charity powerhouse.”

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and wife, Winnie, visit the Kenya Carnival education tent at the 2011 Carnival event. 2012 Co-leader Jake Dennie is also pictured.

The “Ken-Ya Help Us?” project is not only about raising money, however. Its goal is also to raise awareness of the struggles of Kenyan children, many orphaned by the AIDS epidemic. Last summer, 10 area high school students and five adult mentors met these students on a trip to Kenya and brought back information to present at the Carnival on topics ranging from clean water and housing to women’s issues and education. The group learned about daily struggles through home visits as well as “hands-on” experience with building a hut made out of mud and dung.

2012 Co-Leader Jake Dennie, a senior at Brebeuf Jesuit explains, “We aren’t just improving the lives of AIDS orphans in Kenya, we are creating young men and women who are passionate about using their abilities to make the world a better place.”

For more information on how to help Carmel youths make Kenya a better place, visit kenyacarnival.com or visit the premiere sponsor, the Simply Sweet Shoppe in downtown Carmel.

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