40 Books in 365 Days
How it all began..
On December 29th, 2011 I decided to celebrate my final year in my 30's by reading 40 books. Originally it was a challenge I set only for myself. Halfway through the year I realized that I was maybe going to reach this goal. So, I decided to add a twist to it and asked my friends and family to sponsor me to raise money for a school in Kenya to purchase backpacks and writing materials for the class my friend's mom taught in.
The response was overwhelming and by my 40th birthday, I had raised enough money to buy 123 backpacks and a whole load of notebooks and pens.
In 2013 we purchased 150 backpacks, school supplies, and 400 pairs of underwear for 200 girls.
Our third year was also successful. We had to change our focus due to unforeseen circumstances, but we felt confident that these changes were just as exciting.
The Foundation was created by our contact to help more kids go to school, get an education, and give themselves and their families many positive opportunities for the future.
These areas of help included:
1- Paying school levies
2- Buying school uniforms, school bags, school shoes, and other school requirements.
3- Catering for medication
4- providing basic needs i.e. food, clothing, and shelter where necessary.
In 2020, the children only were able to attend school from January until March, then everything shut down. They did not return to school in 2020. In January 2021, they began school again restarting the grade they were supposed to learn in 2020. We were so grateful that they returned to school. There is no Online school in Kenya and not much to do. Not only is school a place to learn but also a place of safety. They have now been playing catch up for the last three "schools" years. I put that in quotations as their school year ended up being 30 weeks instead of 39 weeks so the education system could catch up with things going back to normal in January 2023. This has been very stressful for the teachers as well as the students, but they are finally on the home stretch.
For 8 years from 2013-2019, we hosted an Annual Book and Bake Sale on the Saturday of the May Long Weekend. This was a beautiful event because not only was it about the love of books and delicious baking, but it was also our family's opportunity to reach out to our community and make a connection. As the years went on, this event became bigger and more well-known. Locals would show up and run into people they have not seen in a while and have a little catchup. The year 2020- and 2021 did not allow us to host this event. However, on the long weekend of 2022 we finally held our 8th Annual Book and Bake Sale which was a wonderful success raising more money than the years before. We were so grateful for the many people who came out to the event. Several said they had missed the sale over the years as it was a tradition for them.
In 2020 our family baked and cooked a lot and we posted our dishes for 122 days on my Instagram page @rikki_neukom_photography. This inspired us to put a calendar together called #Nuekegoodeats 2021 Recipe Calendar. It contained 12 of our favorite recipes. It also contained special dates like "National Brownie Day" and "Family Literacy Day". It also had suggestions of 3 Random Acts of Kindness per month.
In 2021 we created another Recipe Calendar for 2022 as well as a Western Canada Scenic Calendar which turned out to be a great fundraiser alternative. I published a 2023 scenic calendar called "Moments in the Rockies" and a 5-Card Greeting Card Collection to raise money at the end of the year.
At the end of 2022 we had three highschool students graduate. I am excited to announce that they all passed their final year. One of the students graduated with an A- from one of the top high schools in Kenya. He is now going to Law School and his 4 years has been paid for thanks to a group of people who worked together to raise the funds. He's such a smart guy as he received A- grades in his graduating year. I look forward to see where his journey will lead him. One of the girls is going to Beauty Therapy school thanks to her church raising money for her first year. We have one student who graduated April 2022 and is now in school learning carpentry. Our last student is working and hopes to attend school to be a kindergarten teacher in the future.
Unfortunately, I do have to share some sad news as well. One of our students who was in Form 3 passed away this past summer due to acute malaria. Unfortunately, the family came to our contact too late for help and she passed away 40 minutes after arriving at the hospital. This was an incredible shock and brought deep sadness among the children and her community. I never thought that some of the money we raised through 40 Books would be going towards a coffin and the most beautiful dress this girl ever owned. One of our own students spoke at the funeral and apparently delivered a beautiful speech.
She was a football player and loved to sing. She quite often would go visit her relatives during her holidays as home life was very difficult. She was the 6th born out of 7 children. Her siblings did not go past grade 5 due to poverty. She had a beautiful smile. She will be missed.
We also lost 3 students due to their family situation being split apart and they moved away. At this point the Innocent Children Foundation has not been able to locate them. If they are located and if possible, we will continue to fund their education.
So, we currently still have 4 children in Form 3 (grade 11), 2 children in Form 2 (grade 10) and 2 children in grade 8 and one in grade 6.
Our 9th Annual Book and Bake Sale will take place on May 20, 2023 was another successful day. The weather was the hottest we had ever experienced but also quite smokey. Luckily, that did not deter people from coming and we broke another fundraising record.
This fall I put together another calendar called "Moments in the Canadian Rockies" as well as a 5-Pack Scenic Blank Greeting Card Set with a portion going towards the children's fees.
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or message me if you are interested in making a donation by Email Transfer and I will be happy to give you the contact information. You can also make a donation by credit card by clicking the button below.
Thank you again to everyone who has supported us over the years. I look forward to another successful year.
Have a beautiful day.
I invite you to join our Facebook Page to keep up to date with news from Kenya as well as our latest fundraiser.
Book & Bake Sale 2019 -