Belinda Buchanan lives two lives: on the one hand she’s a legal secretary in Melbourne, and on the other the founder and CEO of an orphanage in Kenya
Hope Child Africa supports orphaned and abandoned children in Mombasa, Kenya, and in most cases these children have been badly abused. It was set up by Belinda Buchanan, a legal secretary in Melbourne who had a dream to help people.
Each child supported by Hope Child Africa has an Australian sponsor and 100% of sponsorships go directly towards their child. The children have a home and are provided with full-time mother care and private school education.
We chat to Hope Child Africa Founder and CEO, Belinda Buchanan, in anticipation of her next visit to Mombasa, Kenya.
GAB: What inspired you to set up Hope Child Africa?
BB: From a very early age I’ve always felt extremely fortunate and my mother didn’t shy away from telling me so. I remember watching TV commercials of starving children in Africa, and even at the age of eight I empathised, thinking that could be me – what if I was born in Africa? When I was a teenager, I had a lottery dream – to help so many people living in poverty with my winnings!
I’m a bit of an adventurer so a challenge in Africa to attempt to do something good was appealing to me. In 2009 I travelled to Mombasa, Kenya, to volunteer with street children. The hope that I could bring to these children was apparent from the very first time they laid their eyes on me. I was teaching during the days and at night I would read bed time stories, help them wash their clothes, play with them, and give them lots of love. The children thrived on all I had to give and I loved being there with them. I left thinking, “What more can I do to help?”
The children didn’t speak a word of English before and now they all speak English, have big aspirations and are all doing very well at school.
GAB: Can you tell us about the work that you do?
BB: Now my work with Hope Child Africa is a little different to my volunteering experience, because I’m looking after the project’s long term sustainability whilst running the charity. This involves me organising charity events, reporting to sponsors, coordinating volunteers, reporting to the board, corresponding with Africa, managing financials, marketing and of course visiting the children annually to ensure the project is running well. I still absolutely loving hanging out the kids when I’m in Kenya – my quality time with them highlights the purpose of why I do what I do.
GAB: In what ways have you seen the benefits of Hope Child Africa?
BB: I have seen children come into the home in rags, totally withdrawn and clearly damaged and insecure to the point that they seem vacant, also having very little education. The children then welcome the new child into the home as a new brother or sister, and they’re cared for. Every year I go back, I am surprised by the positive developments. The children didn’t speak a word of English before and now they all speak English, have big aspirations and are all doing very well at school. The children feel that they have a home where they belong, that they are loved and are very happy and well behaved.
GAB: How can people volunteer and what will they be doing?
BB: People can volunteer by applying via our online application process on the website. Since the children go to school, volunteers are best suited to school holiday periods. Volunteers are encouraged to coordinate their days to incorporate all kinds of activities including sports, games, activities, reading, writing, cooking, etc.
GAB: What do donations go towards?
BB: I will be leaving to Kenya on December 17. We have planned Christmas celebrations and a holiday activity program, which we are raising money towards now. On Boxing Day we take the Hope Child Africa children to the even less fortunate children in nearby villages for a Giving Day to the poor families. Beyond activities, resourcing the home and the children’s growing needs, we continue to save for our own larger home – currently we rent and our growth is limited.
To find out more about Hope Child Africa, donate or volunteer, visit http://hopechildafrica.org.au/.
Hope Child Africa Website: http://hopechildafrica.org.au/ Facebook: www.facebook.com/HopeChildAfrica Twitter: https://twitter.com/HopeChildAfrica