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Happy Birthday to Me!

You’re living in Adelaide, South Australia, married with two grown kids, working for an organization seeking to assist the Aboriginal community to reduce dependence on welfare, and you’re turning 50. How do you celebrate the milestone?

Well, if you’re Simon’s cousin Mandy Dahms, you throw a party and raise $695 for Kisoro Kids!

Mandy (far right) with a Kisoro teacher (center) and sister Kathy (left)

Mandy and her family already contribute to several charitable organizations in Australia and donate to Kisoro Kids annually at Christmas. Still, any chance Mandy has to do something beyond those things, she takes it.

“Kisoro Kids is so dear to me. It’s such an amazing entity that then contributes to the community in such amazing ways. My family has a really strong Christian faith, but for me, it’s more about what’s happening at the community level and the need for those of us who have to support the community. Kisoro Kids works with the community to empower local people to use their abilities to achieve what they want to achieve. For me, that’s what it’s about.”

A Kisoro resident having fun with Mandy's sister, Kathy

Mandy published a birthday event on Facebook, inviting 60 of her family and friends. She provided a link for partygoers to donate directly to Kisoro Kids in place of presents. Then, on the night of the party, her mom helped her set up a Kisoro Kids display with a little donation box where people could drop their cash. And boy, did they!

“I raised about $1,000 Australian ($695). I didn’t expect quite that amount, but it was great. And it goes a long way in terms of what it looks like for the Kisoro community. What they have might seem basic to us, but it’s precious to them.”

At first, Mandy’s mom had the most involvement with Kisoro Kids. Ten or more years ago, she began selling beads for Aggie’s Arts, which funded Kisoro Kids at the time. Mandy learned more about the education programs through Simon and later Aggie and her family.

But in 2016, Mandy had the opportunity to visit some of the schools with her mom and sister and see for herself the work being done there. And the people she met, the schools she visited, and the children she spent time with made a long-lasting impression on her.

After church, the community laid out a grand lunch for the ladies. As is their custom, Mandy and her mom and sister offered to help clean up afterward, but the ladies of the Kisoro community would not hear of it.

“We were their guests. They wanted to host us as a community, and it wasn’t just one person. It was the whole community spirit that really touched my heart.”

Lunch after church was just one of many community-focused instances Mandy saw on her visit to Kisoro.

“I was blown away by the community’s interaction and level of support. The teachers all come from the community. Anything that happens there, whatever it is, is community driven. I remember talking to Pastor George about a model of fostering kids overseas. But there’s a complexity in taking kids from their own culture, their own homes, and their families and taking them to a whole new life. That sticks in my mind that Pastor George recognized kids need to be kept in their own homes and in their own environments for things to work well. They showed us it really does take a village to raise a kid. And that’s what Kisoro Kids helps them do.”

And that’s why Mandy Dahms threw a 50th birthday party and raised $695 for Kisoro Kids.

“Such beautiful people.”

Church service at Kisoro Hill

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