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family property in the village and, with the money raised, built three banks of classrooms [three in each], a boys’ and girls’ dorm, a kitchen, a meeting hall and a well.
A generator was recently added to provide a small bit of electricity, something sorely lacking in the area. To date, the small grass roots organization has raised more than $250,000.
“People ask us why do this for Kenya [when] there’s adversity and tremendous need in this country,” says Legman. “There is no safety net in Kenya; there is nothing to help these children. Now we know their faces; now we know their names. We can’t not help.”—Steve Fisher
SOMETIMES PEOPLE find a cause; sometimes the cause finds them.
“In 2004, when our son, Kyle, was 19, he went to Africa for six months,” says Vicki Legman, a Costco member in Newcastle, Washington. “He volunteered at an orphanage in Kenya, and while he was there he became friends with the head teacher, Leonard Muyelele.”
Via the Internet, Legman and her husband, Dana Sullivan, kindled a friendship with Muyelele, who had gone back to his home village, Chebukuyi, to start his own orphanage, the Star of Hope Centre.
In the 2009 holiday season, rather than, as Legman says, “giving and getting presents that no one would care about or remember in a few months,” they decided to spend that holiday money on giving these kids a holiday celebration.
“Our friends found out what we were doing and asked to join us,” adds Sullivan.
The kids had a celebration and each
Through Star of Hope, Leonard Muyelele and his wife, Gladwell (above), provide a loving home to more than 30 children and schooling to 120 children from the village (above left)
Vicki and Dana were interviewed for the January 2017 Costco Connection "Changing the World" section. Read the story below and take a look at the video!
received a pair of shoes—for many, their first—and Sullivan and Legman had a cause. The Star of Hope Centre (starof hopecentre.org) was founded and run by Muyelele, but was struggling, financially. He had a rented building and about 16 kids who were in dire need of help.
“One very sick child was abandoned in a hovel with no food or water, essentially left to die,” explains Legman. “Several children were homeless and living on handouts and sleeping nearby. Leonard was in fear for these kids’ safety, especially the girls.”
Legman and Sullivan set out to raise funds but had no confidence in their abilities to run a charity.
Friends with accounting and organizational skills came on board, and the Star of Hope Centre achieved 501(c)(3)status in 2009. An annual party and auction, Dancing for the Stars, was begun in 2010. Since the organization’s inception, Muyelele has moved the orphanage to