As you are well aware, everything we do at WTJ is with the end goals of sustainability and self-sufficiency in mind. Our farm investments have been key in this vision, providing employment to local mothers, a nutritious diet for our young girls, and a growing income to support their secondary and tertiary education. Although far from perfect, these investments have been making leaps and bounds over the last 12 months and the future was looking very promising. To help cement this we have been in talks to have the land on which we operate transferred into a 99-year trust administered by our organisation.
The land is owned by an elderly Swiss couple who have been excited to see what WTJ have been implementing over the last 2 years, and supportive of what we have planned for the future. However, despite the fact that we have essentially spent the last 6 months preparing this trust, it is with disbelief we write to you saying the land (although promised to us) will no longer be under our care. The Swiss couple have been talking to the managers of a Swiss farming organisation which cultivate and research organic farms, and have agreed to transfer the land. With respect we wish them the best, but also share our disappointment in the fact they will NOT take responsibility for the children’s home aspect of Jacaranda.
It is hard to write this, but without the sustainability and self-sufficiency provided by the farm we can’t remain involved. Using the money of generous donors to create short term change doesn’t sit well with us. There are thousands of charities, not only in Kenya but globally, relying on donors indefinitely. This leaves most communities dependent on international aid with no real way out. Our vision was, and still is, to empower through investment and employment opportunities. Without the farm we cannot stay true to this.
🙁 The repercussions:
First and foremost, the current girls will still be cared for and supported. The home will still belong to Sicily and be under her control. We have measures in place that guarantee Sicily can still support the girls currently living at the home until they have grown up and left university. They will still be attending school and living at the home. Life won’t be disrupted.
Secondly, our staff (including Sicily) are expected to have exciting employment opportunities with the new farming organisation. As a result, we are hoping to continue with our financial planning education to make sure they can continue to send their kids to school. Regardless of whether the new organisation has places for these women, we will continue to support the mothers with school fees until a new source of income arises.
The support received hasn’t disappeared either. The WTJ account still has adequate funds to ensure the transition does not leave ANYONE behind. Any remaining donations will be passed onto a likeminded organisation in Kenya (we are still in the process of selecting this organisation, and will let you know asap). We have pre-emptively cancelled all existing subscriptions – if you have any concerns regarding this, please let us know.
As we reflect on the past two years, we are really proud to have achieved what we have together. None of it would have been possible without YOU – our incredible supporters. The fundraisers, the online donations, the artworks, the t-shirts, the website, the administrative gurus, the enthusiasm, the ideas, the questions, the praise, the coffees, the laughs, those moments when you’ve asked “how is it all going in Kenya?”… all of it has helped more than you can imagine, and for that we thank you so SO much.
We started WTJ on pure emotion and a burning need to help some horrifically unlucky young women. This attitude hasn’t wavered since day one, the only difference is that we now carry two and a half years of important lessons. To name a few, we’ve learnt how to manage cultural sensitivities when difficult decisions need to be made, the importance of maintaining transparency and accountability at all times, how to create sustainable projects that encourage self-sufficiency, how to build valuable corporate relationships, how to make difficult decisions in the face of enormous setbacks, and all of the ins and outs of setting up and running a charity in Australia… It’s safe to say we’re more prepared than ever.
So although we are completely heartbroken, the current set back isn’t the end of the world, nor is it the end of us. Harnessing the lessons learned with WTJ, we are feeling as motivated and passionate as ever to create positive change. We don’t know what it will involve, nor when it may arise, but we will be back…
If you want to have a chat with us over the phone, over email, or over a $6.47 turmeric latte, let’s make it happen.
Scott and Lewis