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FUNding Letter

February 11, 2010

Here’s the letter I sent to friends and family – gives a good overview of what I’m doing, the organization I’m working with, and why I’ve chosen to spend 3 months in a third-world country.

February 10, 2010

Dear Friends and Family,
Jambo! (“Hello” in Kiswahili.) I am writing to share with you some exciting news about my upcoming adventures! I have recently been accepted to participate in an internship-type program with the Foundation for Sustainable Development. In a few short weeks, I will be traveling to Kakamega, Kenya to work with a local Kenyan nonprofit organization. I will be working in the field with this organization to help them implement projects relating to community development, health care, agriculture and microfinance. Although I don’t know my specific responsibilities yet, I know that it will be an interesting and rewarding challenge through which I hope to help the people of Kenya.
I have wanted to travel to Africa initially since my junior year of high school, but my time studying abroad and researching in college fueled that desire even more.  I graduated from Berry College in December with a degree in Economics, so finding and embarking on this opportunity has only taken place within the last month or so. Through my studies and independent research for my thesis, I found that despite the resources flooding the continent, Africa remains desperately impoverished. Over half of sub-Saharan Africans live on less than $1.25 per day, in spite of the United Nations’ push toward poverty reduction. In fact, even accounting for positive growth rates in a few countries such as Botswana, average income per person fell from 62 cents per day in 1990 to 60 cents per day in 2001. The continent as a whole remains the poorest in the world, accounting for much of the 1.4 billion people living in absolute poverty. This level of poverty, coupled with the slow and even negative growth rates seen in many sub-Saharan African countries, affects every aspect of life for those populations – areas ranging from health and access to clean water to education and employment.  This trip is a great opportunity to put into practice the theories that I have studied and researched and it will mean practical application to empower citizens of a very poor community to find ways to utilize and leverage the resources that exist in their area. 
I am very excited about this opportunity to both learn and serve before I begin graduate school and/or jump into the work world. But getting there won’t be easy, as the cost of volunteering internationally is significant: the training, placement, family home stay, host organization grant, field support, airfare and insurance for three months costs roughly $6,500. I am trying to meet this expense through personal savings and income from jobs, but I also need your help. Your generous contribution gives direct support to the Foundation for Sustainable Development and the people of Kakamega, Kenya by providing them with a committed, enthusiastic, trained and hard-working volunteer (i.e. me!).
I would be extremely grateful if you would consider contributing to this cause. 50 donations of $100 each would almost pay for the trip, but whatever amount you can give will be immensely appreciated. If you don’t feel led to contribute funds, your thoughts and prayers as I pursue this new adventure would be equally as appreciated. My trip is scheduled from February 27 through May 15 (with an additional two days of flight travel tacked on at each end) for a total of just over 11 weeks.
Monetarily, there are two ways you can donate: 1. Directly to the Foundation in my name or 2. With a personal contribution to me to cover additional costs like airfare and vaccinations. If you choose to donate to the Foundation in my name, your support is 100% tax deductible and a letter for next year’s tax purposes will be provided to you. Unfortunately, the deadline for this type of contribution is February 27, but any personal checks can still be mailed to my home address after this date.
Tax deductable donations can be made online through a secure PayPal site (You don’t need a PayPal account – just a credit card). Pasting the following web address into your browser will lead to a secure site where you can donate any amount in my name:
Personal donations can be made after February 27th, as my parents have agreed to operate as “bankers” for me while in Kenya.

Your support and encouragement, whether through financial means or otherwise, is greatly welcomed and appreciated. Please feel free to get in touch with me if you have any questions, ideas, or if you know of anyone else who might be interested in supporting this project; my contact information is listed below. Thank you for helping to make this extraordinary experience possible. I look forward to sharing it with you when I return.
Thank you and best regards,
Erin Wendt
Oak Ridge, TN

I hope that everyone will continue to follow my progress, stories, pictures, trials and success in Kenya – the best way is to check back to this blog! confusionsconfessions happens to be quite an accurate name for what I’m about to get myself into. Also, if you feel led to support me monetarily in this trip, copying and pasting the link provided in the email will take you to a site where you can donate.

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