When I first came to Kenya, close to ten years ago, I volunteered at Nyumbani Village, now a home to close to 1000 children whose parents died of AIDS. There weren’t 1000 kids back in 2007 but hundreds who had come, many with their grandparents, to find food, shelter and hopefully education for the grandchildren they found in their care. One of the first, if not the first orphans I met there was Ben Nguli. After losing his mom and dad, Ben and his three siblings were brought to the Village. Ben was in 7th grade when I met him. I tutored him at night, by kerosene lamp or flashlight, struggling with English and his other subjects. He and his brothers Charles and John, his sister Lucy and his grandmother Mary became my Kenyan family. I grew to know their struggles, pain and losses. Ben and I would, almost nightly, walk the paths around Nyumbani, looking for monkeys. That was our excuse to spend the evenings talking about life, family, and hardships. Rarely did we find monkeys but we found a bond that has lasted almost ten years. Through struggle, sacrifice and generosity of well-wishers, Ben finished high school and enrolled in East African Aeronautics (located at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport) for studies, receiving a Diploma in Avionics. This was not easy, living in terrible slum housing, being robbed periodically and hungry most nights. But Ben is quite a young man. He persevered in a way that I would not have had the courage. He had a successful internship in Mombasa a year and a half ago and finished his studies at East African. With his Diploma, he is now interning, with no pay, at Wilson Airport, pushing planes and helicopters, among other more technical responsibilities.
I met with Ben Nguli today. He was limping noticeably and his big toe was poorly bandaged. At his work at the airport, he had let go of a trailer hitch used to transport helicopters around the airport. It crushed his toe, losing the nail and requiring stitches that he never received. So a week has passed. Today I took him to see a doctor at a little satellite hospital/clinic in Kitengela. We also purchased some open-toed shoes, until he heals and we can get him some steel-toed boots. He doesn’t get paid at Wilson, so he is dependent on well-wishers for food, housing costs, water and the biggest cost, transport to and from work each day. We can handle some of that but my request for Ben’s future study follows.
FOR THOSE IN THE AIRLINE INDUSTRY WHO MIGHT UNDERSTAND THIS – In order to receive a Category B2 License in Avionics and Electrical Systems – Part 66 Aircraft Maintenance License and be more likely to be hired on at a decent wage, Ben needs to take a series of 11 licensing tests. The European Aviation Safety Agency is the entity granting the license out of the European Union with the regulatory and executive task in civilian aviation safety. Studying assistance here in Nairobi, purchasing the study materials and taking the tests in 11 modules comes at an exorbitant cost of approximately $3,000. Once licensed, Ben will be able to sign the Certificate of Release to Service for an aircraft within the Category B2 license authority, provide avionic maintenance and electrical systems. The license is applicable to Africa, European and Middle East countries.
My foundation has a mission that assists women and children, specifically extremely needy, elderly and preschool children. Though we can assist Ben somewhat, the $3,000 is beyond the scope of our mission. But I would like to ask, on his behalf, for anyone looking to donate directly to the future of a young man who is humble, hard-working and grateful. Just send a one-time check or PayPal donation with Ben Nguli’s name attached. I’ll do the rest. No amount is too small as it all adds up. For online contributions, go to http://www.edcolinafoundation.org/make-a-donation or send a check to Ed Colina Foundation PO Box 199 Burlington, KY 41005 and put BEN NGULI on it somewhere.
I thank you for considering my request on behalf of my young African mwana.