RCK Past-President Townes Osborn introduced our guest speaker, Cyndy Waters, founder of The Orbit Village Project in Nairobi, Kenya. Ms. Waters began her comments by acknowledging her connections with Rotary, including her father’s membership in the Sevierville Rotary Club.
The formation of The Orbit Village Project was an outgrowth of her own spiritual calling, resulting from her travels to Kenya in 1995 where she witnessed the impoverishment of orphans, and the health and social issues that came with it. The village of Orbit centers around a remote dusty and dirty rock quarry. Lots of heavy equipment in and out of the village makes it difficult to maintain any sorts of cleanliness. About 300 people work in the rock quarry, and the children in the village live in very dirty conditions. The orphanage evolved as a means of ministering to these orphans.
The Mission of The Orbit Village Project is to help families survive a broken generation via education, food support, child sponsorship, spiritual leadership and encouragement, and a Children’s Home. The Project serves in three areas of Kenya, ministering to about 1000 people. The main project of The Orbit Village is located east of Nairobi along the Nairobi River. There are many orphaned/vulnerable children and families broken by addiction, poverty, HIV-AIDS, lack of education and prostitution. The project strives to keep sibling groups together, so that they can, in time, lead the family out of poverty and other hardships to become productive citizens and healthy people. The project offers hope and real-life answers.
The budget for the project is approximately $200,000 a year. The are about 400 students K-12 on campus and in boarding schools. After high school, the project sponsors graduates to attend universities and colleges. About 1000 hot meals are provided each day, and care is provided for 100 children in the Orbit Children’s Home. A paid staff of 62 employees is needed to keep everything operating, which also includes supporting 40 families with Home Based Care, sponsoring the Kenyan Basket Weavers, and providing a Drug and Alcohol Rehab Program.
With the support of three churches, every family is given a large blessing basket every Christmas. There are opportunities to “Sponsor A Child” through financial donations which helps to create a larger global family for the children in need. Other organizations such as the Sevierville Rotary Club and Kings Academy have provided support by building playgrounds and providing clothing and uniforms.
In 2007, as a result of political unrest and violence, over 300,000 people in the Mathare Valley in Kenya lost their homes. The Orbit Project was able to step in and help by ministering to the needs of these people.
Ms. Waters concluded her comments by showing a brief video of a visit to The Orbit Village by Bob Marquis and Townes Osborn, and the warm welcome that they received during their visit there.