Editorial credit: Caroline Coppel
The DC chapter of One Home, Many Hopes celebrated its Kenya director’s U.S. visit last Thursday, hosting “Small Things with Great Love: An Evening with Anthony Mulongo” in his honor. The reception and presentation highlighted the mission of the humanitarian group, which rescues, houses and educates abandoned children in Kenya.
The DC chapter has grown rapidly over the past year, as this event clearly showed. It was held in a sleek downtown office building near Judiciary Square, and featured an open bar, hors d’ oeuvres and a drawing to win a $50 certificate to Founding Farmers.
That’s not to say that the evening was focused on self-indulgent partying, far from it. Throughout his presentation, Mulongo emphasized the need for people to think of others and give what they can to improve the lives of those less fortunate than themselves.
“Here’s what’s happening everywhere: need,” he said, when asked about what he saw in his day-to-day operations for OHMH. “Even in the U.S., there is need.”
Mulongo left his job as a journalist to combat the grinding poverty he saw around him in Kenya; he founded OHMH in 2007. The group works with children in order to break the cycle of desperation and destitution into which they are born. By providing them with a home and education, OHMH hopes to raise a generation of intelligent, passionate individuals who will pass on the opportunities given to them.
As an example of the group’s success, Mulongo told the story of Gift, one of the girls OHMH has rescued. Gift’s mother died when she was four; left to take care of her infant brother, she began begging in the streets. Mulongo heard about the girl and organized a group of people to find her. She is now a teenager soon to graduate high school; she hopes to become a doctor.
Mulongo discussed current projects as well. The group recently opened a girls’ home, which houses 60 on four floors. It is also building a school, and is working with local courts to prevent what Mulongo called “child criminalization for being poor.”
“We are giving these children an identity, so that they cannot be arrested and imprisoned over and over again,” he said.
Additionally, OHMH is working on expanding its donor base while simultaneously developing other streams of income. Besides DC, there are now chapters in San Francisco, New York City, Boston, London and Belfast; Mulongo said that they recently started a fish farm, which they would sell to local businesses in Kenya.
Yet, Mulongo believes the one element essential to OHMH’s sustainability is patience.
“Programs like this usually run for one or two years,” he said. “We need to give them time to focus on the new generation.”
There should be some local OHMH events in the next few months; visit http://www.onehomemanyhopes.org/ for details.