We launched our RESCUE Lip & Eye Balm a dual purpose product that also has a very special third purpose, we are donating all the profits from the sale of this product to The One Heart Foundation.
Today we want to tell you a little bit more about why we chose The One Heart Foundation and what your purchase will be doing if you buy one of our RESCUE Lip & Eye Balms.
We think transparency is important and so does The One Heart Foundation, which is why their Founder & Director, Dean Landy, was only too happy to take some time to answer some questions and tell our customers more about the vision for One Heart and what they are working on right now.
Before we leap into that we’ll just give you some quick facts:
The One Heart Foundation is an Australian charity head quartered in Melbourne Australia.
Their current primary mission is to improve the lives of orphaned and impoverished children in Kenya, but this is where the big difference lies between them and many other charities working in Africa, “All our initiatives in Kenya are designed to break the aid-dependence cycle so recipients no longer have to rely on hand outs…so they can stand on their own two feet and walk into their future with dignity and confidence, free from poverty, persecution, fear and oppression and have the resources to raise the next generation.”
Now we’ll hand it over to One Heart Director Dean & ivadore Founder Tanya Felli.
Tanya: Can you tell us about how One Heart Foundation came about and why you wanted to start it?
Dean: The idea for One Heart Foundation came about after I had volunteered many times in India for various organisations where on my last trip I had designed and helped build an orphanage. Taking everything I had learnt from other organisations, and coupled with a passion to make an impact in Africa, I started sharing the idea of developing self sufficient children’s villages with a young Kenyan man, Jimmy, who was in Australia thanks to sponsors to get much needed eye surgery, and we quickly became friends. I wanted to establish something that could provide care and education to orphaned and abandoned children, but to do so in a way that would challenge the typical ‘orphanage model’. Then in 2007 what is now known as One Heart Foundation started when I first travelled to Kenya with a team of 12 people to start work on establishing our first children’s home in Jimmy’s village. Now 10 years on One Heart is the legal guardian of 80 vulnerable children and educating hundreds more in the community, and growing.
Tanya: What are some of the challenges that these children are facing?
Dean: All of the children in our care have come from very challenging situations. Unfortunately there are so many children that have been orphaned or abandoned in Kenya as a result of the challenges their parents have faced with HIV, poverty and abuse that has resulted in many children being left to fend for themselves in the streets where statistics show that a high proportion of them will die before the age of 5. The poverty cycle is a horrible thing to observe, as without someone such as One Heart helping to break the cycle for the most desperate children and provide them with the love and education they need, they will unfortunately find themselves repeating the same cycle as their parents.
Tanya: Tell us what exactly it is that One Heart Foundation does to make a difference?
Dean: Our key focus is to provide holistic care to the most needy children. To us this means providing a loving family home environment as well as a really good quality education to the most vulnerable children in the community - the orphaned and abandoned street kids. We provide all of the needs for the children in our care as if they were our own children, healthcare, education, care and personal/social wellbeing. We do this within a unique model working towards financial self-sustainability. This is a really important aspect as it is through our income generating programs in Kenya such as dairy farms, poultry, bakeries, fisheries and agriculture that we can generate funds to help support the ongoing care of the children without being forever reliant on foreign aid.
Tanya: Can you tell us some stories about lives you’ve seen changed?
Dean: There are so many incredible stories that continue to inspire me to do more so we can reach more children and help transform their lives from one of desperate need to one where they are free to dream of what they can become.
Sharon was one of the first young girls to come in to the One Heart home 8 years ago. With barely any education, she used to spend most of her time scavenging through dumps to find food for her and her little brother. Her mother had a mental disability and struggled to survive. On one occasion their mother tried to burn the children alive as life was simply too hard. The mother and grandmother later passed away and Sharon and her brother came in to the care of One Heart. Six years later after being in our loving environment, she finished junior school in the 95 percentile for all of Kenya and was accepted into a select entry national school where she is now on track to fulfil her dream of becoming a neurosurgeon. Being the oldest girl in One Heart, all the other kids look up to her as a role model of what is possible. She is now a very inspiring young woman.
Tanya: There are so many other charities out there aiming to help eliminate poverty, what makes One Heart different?
Dean: While many charities are doing some amazing things, there are two key points that make One Heart different...our holistic approach to caring for the children, and our model of sustainability. There are many organisations that look to support kids in their existing families to prevent them from ending up on the streets, or provide a single focused program to address a certain need such as food, water or shelter, but not many look to cover all the needs of the most desperate children where there is no ‘plan b’.
While this is a more expensive model to build and run the homes, schools and eco farms that One Heart is establishing, this model also allows the most transformative change in the lives of the children that need it most...and they prosper as a result.
Also our focus on environmental, social and financial sustainability is a key point as it means that we are working hard to establish a legacy that can be maintained by local communities for decades to come and serves to educate our children in the very thing we aspire to see in them...long term change to positively impact whole communities.
Tanya: What’s been the most rewarding thing about it?
Dean: The most rewarding part is simply seeing the children develop into such amazing young adults over the 9 years I have known many of them, knowing what the alternative may have been for them. It’s wonderful to see them being so caring and accepting of new young children coming in to the home and seeing how lovingly they embrace them to make them feel like part of the One Heart family.
It’s also very rewarding seeing volunteers come over to Kenya as part of the Run from Poverty Experience that we run each year and see them so challenged by the needs and what One Heart is doing that they return home and decide to make a significant change in their own lives to enable them to make a bigger impact in this world. I love seeing people realise they can truly make a difference.
Tanya: What is your ultimate goal for the One Heart Foundation?
Our ultimate goal is the see the first 2 eco-villages in Kenya completed and providing holistic care to 200 One Heart Kids at a time in a series of small family homes, as well as educating around 1500 kids across all of our schools, and doing so within a financially sustainable model. Beyond that we are then looking to replicate this model to other parts of Africa and potentially Asia, and have already started working on some small projects in Uganda to bring water and power to a small rural community. From this base in Uganda we will start to scale up to develop a new children’s eco-village there also.
Tanya: How else can people support your work other than buying our RESCUE Lip & Eye Balm this Christmas?
Dean: The best way to support the work is through our child sponsorship program to directly connect our kids with a sponsor of $55 per month to help cover the costs of caring for and educating a child.
There is also the opportunity to come to Kenya to experience the impact you can make first hand as part of our annual Run from Poverty (www.runfrompoverty.org) or the annual Building Challenge. Several businesses have also partnered with us and we work with them to create a really tailored program so it becomes part of their office culture and social impact plan.
Tanya: Other than donating money to charities like One Heart Foundation is there anything else individual’s can do to make a difference to the lives of these children?
Dean: Other than directly donating money to help us care for more orphaned and abandoned children, individuals can still make a difference by supporting products such as ivadore’s Lip Balm whereby proceeds go to funding One Heart programs. They could also simply help raise awareness about the work of One Heart by following us on social media and sharing some of our stories and calls to action. We can all make a difference in some way.
So there you have it, that’s what we’re supporting One Heart and we hope you’ll join us by getting yourself, your friends or your family members a RESCUE Lip & Eye Balm for just $24.95. Head on over here to find out more about it and get yours today.