FORREST COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT: UHURU CHILD
December 18, 2014
Poverty in Africa and other parts of the developing world is well known and well documented. But poverty in Africa is far more severe than the poverty we think of in the United States. In Africa, poverty refers to the lack of basic human needs. African nations typically fall toward the bottom of any list measuring income per capita. While billions of dollars have been sent to African nations in the form of direct aid throughout the years, much of those funds have been misused and misallocated. The end result is a very small improvement in the enormous amount of poverty in Africa.
There are dozens of organizations that have taken many different approaches to solving the issue of African poverty throughout the years, and they’ve seen varying levels of success. Nearly all of the programs, schools and orphanages – built by well-meaning organizations – can only survive if the organizations continually raise funds and send them to Africa. While this does create some level of relief, it creates a dependency problem that is not self-sustainable.
One organization is taking a unique and disruptive approach to addressing the poverty problem in Africa – the Uhuru Child grassroots movement.
Uhuru Child began when CEO Brad Brown and his wife Annie felt called to move to Kenya just weeks before their wedding in 2007. They fell in love with Kibera – a slum of approximately one million people living on just 2.2 square miles of land. There is roughly one toilet for every 400 people in Kibera. What struck Brad and Annie the most was not the level of brokenness there, but rather the tremendous hope that prevailed in the midst of poverty. Children laughed and danced and didn’t allow themselves to be defined by their circumstances. They had dreams of becoming pilots, doctors, and even rap artists. What they all had in common was the desire for an education.
Uhuru established a model in the small village of Jikaze that creates employment for adults and provides education for children. It begins with social businesses, like greenhouses. These businesses employ adults and sell their produce to restaurants across Kenya. Once the greenhouse staff members are paid, the profits are poured into building and supporting secondary schools, giving the children in those communities quality education. This self-sustaining infrastructure is part of Uhuru’s three-part mission: social business, education, and discipleship.
The Uhuru Child movement hasn’t just taken hold, it has absolutely exploded. Within 18 months, Uhuru Child has representatives at 15 colleges and numerous high schools on the East Coast. Today, companies like Whole Foods and Sky Valley Foods give a portion of their profits to Uhuru Child. Many people have joined with Uhuru to raise awareness and funds. It’s been great to see local entrepreneurs and executives get involved in a significant way, as well as patent attorney Justin Nifong of NKK Patent Law, who performed pro bono trademark work for Uhuru Child.
Forrest Firm founder and principal attorney James Forrest said, “We are proud to support Uhuru Child and appreciate the organization’s breakthrough approach to addressing poverty in the developing world. Brad Brown, CFO Tim Jackson, and everyone with Uhuru Child has a special heart for children and raising future generations to create a better path forward. We have been inspired by the commitment of our friends and the groundswell of support from the Triangle business community to make our own long-term commitment to raising up this part of our world.”