How Reddit Saved an Orphanage

Whoever said “it can’t be done overnight” has apparently never met the users of the popular social news website Reddit.

A user named “TheLake” posted at 6:30 p.m. CST on Jan. 26, asking Reddit to help raise $2,000. TheLake explained that a caregiver named Omari defended a Kenyan orphanage four nights in a week from burglars:

“After two previous invasions during the week, Omari was relatively certain another would occur. He woke up to the sound of footsteps outside his door, he figured it was his mother taking a few of the boys outside to go to the bathroom. He quickly realized that the footsteps were heavy, and that of more than one person; he then saw a flashlight shine beneath the crack of his door. Being the third time this happened that week, he had already stashed a hammer beside his bed. He grabbed it, and threw it at the first person who entered his room. He hit the person square in the head, and chased the rest out.

The following night, the three thugs returned, presumably to avenge their friend. Omari put up a fight but was outnumbered. The last thing he remembers was being struck in the face by the machete. He has been in and out of the hospital since, yet remains positive and confident that the suspects will one day see justice.”

The money raised, TheLake said, would pay for a concrete fence with barbed wire to surround the orphanage and prevent further incidents. Throughout the night, the user gave updates to fill in others about the orphanage, while giving updates on the donation goal status. The Faraja Orphanage is in Ngong, Kenya, and according to the poster, has “multiple efforts to keep the orphanage sustainable.”  The orphanage has chickens and a garden to feed 35 children between the ages of 2 and 17.

While the initial goal was $2,000, TheLake posted an update: “Over $9,000 and I’m in a state of shock.” The next update showed Reddit users contributing a total of $11,000. Donations continued to pour in through the organization’s website, Longonot Education Initiative, which was upgraded to a Pro account for two years from its host, Weebly. The company also donated $10,000.

As of 3:00 a.m. CST, the total amount of donations coming in so far have totaled over $50,000, and a new photo went up. TheLake says the money will go towards food, supplies, and a hired watchman overnight until the wall is built. At the $44,000 mark, TheLake had this to say: “I cannot believe this. I just came back from the orphanage… Let’s just say many tears were shed, and many hugs were shared.”

Any funds donated to the Longonot Education Initiative through next week will be given directly to the Faraja Orphanage. You can give through Paypal.

Update (6 p.m. CST): The number of total donated money continues to grow. What was $65,000 when this update was originally posted has turned into over $73,000. Due to the overwhelming support towards TheLake and Faraja Orphanage, a subreddit called Redditors Without Borders appeared to help gather volunteers for various projects. TheLake has been updating his most recent post for the past seven hours: “There are currently two armed police officers stationed at the orphanage. They will remain there all night. We will continue to hire them to guard the orphanage during the next few nights until the wall is completed. That being said, tomorrow morning we’re buying the materials!”

Omari is also a civil engineer, according to TheLake, and has begun designing the wall. “When I told them how much we were able to raise, [caregiver] Mama Mora broke down in my arms,” TheLake posted. “She cannot believe it, and she just wants to thank all of you.”

Update (5 a.m. CST): 35 hours after the original post from TheLake, around $80,000 has been raised. Caregiver Mama Mora has taken to documenting expenditures diligently, TheLake says, after doing so at the orphanage for years. She will continue to do so with a record book, keeping accounts of all money spent on not only the wall, but food, supplies, and wages of hired guards.

Regarding the current state of the orphanage, TheLake wrote: “This afternoon we will begin to buy the materials and supplies needed for the wall, and contract a construction crew that will hopefully begin building tomorrow! We are also looking into hiring a guard to watch the home during the day in addition to the two guards at night.”

Reddit users have asked about donating supplies, books, and toys. A library may be put in the home, TheLake says, and the children would be “more than grateful for these things.” The poster says the orphanage can accept these items at this address:

Faraja Childrens Home

P.O. Box 57526 – 00200

Nairobi, Kenya

 

Feb. 17, 2012: You can read about the newest changes at Faraja Orphanage at this most recent post.

31 thoughts on “How Reddit Saved an Orphanage

  1. This amount of money is literally like hitting a big lotto ticket in country that is so poor. Please, please, please, make good use of this money, as hitting a lotto ticket only happens ones in a lifetime.Hiring guards was a great thing, I would also suggest from looking at the pictures of the garden that the soil is most likely in need of a good mixture of soil. Cheers for the good will the people of reddit.

  2. I just hope they can keep this low key in their town. If those evil men find out about this money, It could very well turn into a ransom fund. Just make sure to use caution.

  3. This is a great story that has elated everybody, but I just really hope that the use of the money is well supervised. Corruption is very prevalent in Kenyan society from top to bottom. My first guess is that Omori will come back with an inflated invoice for the wall, in cahoots with the hardware store. I may sound like the grinch, but I’ve lived in Kenya and that’s just how it is.

    1. I highly doubt that someone willing to take a machete to the face to defend some kids would also be thinking of padding the bill, taking money from those kids.

    2. I lived in this orphanage and I know the money will be put to good use. There is no one more deserving of this money than these children and Martha Moraa.

      1. I, too, volunteered at Faraja for a month last year. Martha, Omari, and all of the children deserve this money more than anyone I know. Holy crap, I’m so happy.

  4. Has anybody here seen the movie ‘The First Grader’? It is the true story of a small school in Kenya who has an 80 year old enroll because he wants to read. When the story makes the international news, the school is besieged with local crooks and small-time crooked officials who believe that since it made the news, that money is now pouring in.
    It’s a cautionary tale.
    Please help protect this orphanage from this sort of unintended consequence.

  5. Please don’t blow this up! We don’t want anyone knowing that the orphanage has this kind of money! We want to keep them safe and healthy! Not trying to fight off even more crooks.

  6. Redditor here. I got into a smack talkin’ donation war with a few other Redditors (first time I’d been in one of those). A bunch of us trying to better the last guy by a few pennies each time, I thought I’d won the battle until my receipt came back and the CAD-USD exchange rate made me lose by 27 cents! FFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!!!!

    In the end there were 8 of us from 4 countries who got in some good trash talk and sent a couple hundred bucks to Omari. That guy is a bawss!

  7. I am from America and my friend and I have been volunteering at this orphanage and as sad as the story is; it is all true. Omari and amazing person and a true hero who at a young age has the responsibility of protecting 35 kids from horrible people. We all take the basic right of feeling secure in our homes for granted. Not once has Omari complained or walked away. He stands in there every night and protects those kids. He is a true hero!!!

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