Thursday, February 19, 2009

KIRF gets media coverage in Ventura County Star "Ventura family fulfilling needs worldwide"

KIRF got some publicity yesterday (finally!). Journalist Alicia Doyle wrote a nice full page article about our "KIRF work" that was published in the Communities section of the Ventura County Star newspaper.

The article wrote about our "client-driven/ informal aid network" direct relief model of helping others help themselves. KIRF gives in-kind donations and services directly to those in need with the help of local and informal experts such as teachers, medical workers, etc.This model ensures that people who need help the most also get exactly what they need to regain economic self-sufficiency and a life with dignity that is also within their own cultural norms and beliefs.

They printed the photo of us and the kids standing with chai dealer Naseem and his large family at his extended family home that was taken in Bodhgaya, India on December 25, 2006. The photo was taken by Mark's mom, Diane Kirwin. The other photo showed the Mark providing food staples and living supplies to Moken (aka "Sea Gypsies" of the Andaman Sea) several months after they were stranded on a deserted island by the tsunami without adequate food and water. You can read Mark's poignant field report about tsunami relief and helping the stranded Moken at KIRFaid.org.

The article mentioned disaster relief projects that KIRF has undertaken all over the world since its inception in January 2005.

The article also mentioned KIRF's latest project helping the Homeless Children's Playtime Project (HCPP) in Washington, DC last month. KIRF purchased educational toys, art supplies and furnishings for HCPP's play room at the NCFN Shelter in DC. We got to deliver the supplies and play with some of the young beneficiaries of the new toys at the transitional living shelter, too.

The HCPP non-profit serves homeless and chronically ill children by giving them a safe and enriching place to play after school. The "wish list" supplies were purchased with funds donated by KIRF's generous supporters here in Ventura. The airfare and hotel expenses are paid for by us out of our personal funds--like always.

Our "photographer" for this article, Diane Kirwin is an inspirational person in her own right. She is the Director of KIRF India which is a separate non-profit (and certified Indian Charitable Trust with an Indian board of trustees) that is devoted to providing primary and secondary education in rural villages, job training, medical care and public health resources such as clean drinking water and nutrition to landless peasants and street children of the Dalit caste in and around the famed Buddhist holy place and World Heritage Site of Bodhgaya, India.

Click here to read the Ventura County Star article about KIRF online >

Click here to read a copy of Ventura County Star newspaper article about KIRF, February 18, 2009 (PDF, 10.3 MB) >

Friday, February 06, 2009

"Giving where we are needed" and KIRF work

I've been meaning to post this quotation by John Records, a homeless activist, that describes why I enjoy doing "KIRF work". I read it in the Sun Magazine last month in the Letters section. Here it is:

"We may have more time than we think we do. And we might find a greater happiness from giving where we are needed than from being entertained." ~John Records, founder of homeless rehabilitation center Committee on the Shelterless (COTS), from the September 2008 issue of the Sun Magazine's "Leave the Light On" article.

I like that.

By "KIRF work" I mean doing a service project to help others or help the planet either here locally in Ventura (with an Earth Day beach cleanup, for example) or in a distant community such as in Washington, DC recently or in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

For example, in Chiang Mai we bought an ice cream maker and new freezer for a sustainable business school-based venture set-up by the Support the Children Foundation in December 2006. Our purchases made it possible for them to generate income to fund for their healthy lunch program for disadvantaged children and HIV foster children. The local non-profit Support the Children Foundation is ensuring that this program continues. The Chiang Mai project took a lot of effort to coordinate. I spent days preparing handouts and a poster and did two cookie sales with the Ventura College Anthropology Club to fund it. How did I find the Support The Children Foundation? I emailed friends and family until I found them through my sister-in-law. She recommended me speaking with her former college roommate who is a public health doctor stationed in Singapore and works with the Thai founders of Support The Children, who are a husband and wife team of two physicians who attended medical school in the U.S. Finding them and setting up the KIRF project, fundraising for it, and working in Chiang Mai on this project with our children was a effort. However, we were gong to be in Chiang Mai anyway to visit family so the travel was already taken care of. However, all that coordination took time.

But it was time well spent. The genuine gratitude and happiness of the school principal when he found out about the ice cream making equipment we bought his school made it worth it. Also, it was meeting the kids at the school, meeting the farmer who donated milk for the ice cream at his farm, meeting a local foster care family who was taking care of their HIV+ grandson, and the long day we spent shopping in Chiang Mai accompanying our Thai local experts from the Support the Children Foundation shop was an enriching and heartwarming experience that we will never forget. We still in keep in touch with Support the Children founders. I consider them dear and inspiring friends. The memory of that KIRF work project still makes me happy when I think out it. I am grateful that I had that experience and we made a difference.

That is "KIRF work".

:) A

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Ventura Family Witnessed History and Helped Homeless Children in Washington, DC

Ventura, California (February 3, 2009): Ventura volunteers Mark, Angela, Kai and Makani Kirwin of Kirwin International Relief Foundation (KIRF) headed to Washington, DC on January 16 to provide assistance for homeless children to heed President-Elect Obama’s request for Americans to do a community service project to honor the spirit of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. He called it a National Day of Service. While in DC they also attended the inauguration.

On the Saturday before the Inauguration, the Kirwins met up with volunteers for the a local Target and Best Buy to purchase wish list items for the Homeless Children’s Playtime Project non-profit that serves homeless children at several Washington, DC transitional living shelters. The Kirwins’ two children helped the volunteers chose the best toys and art supplies—stuff that they know kids like. Carpooling with the volunteers they delivered about six shopping carts of needed educational toys, art supplies and furnishings to a local shelter later that day. The Kirwins and their children returned to the shelter on Wednesday and helped build some play structures and played with the kids. Ironically, the shelter’s Playtime was closed on the National Day of Service for the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

“Their lives are hard and several of them have suffered a lot. It was so gratifying to see them excited about their new toys and have fun in a loving and safe environment,“ Angela Kirwin said. “Every kid needs to feel special sometimes.”

The Homeless Children's Playtime Project (www.playtimeproject.net) non-profit serves children in local emergency and transitional homeless shelters by giving them a safe and enriching place to play in the evenings. “This is the one place they can go be with their peers and get a lot of love and attention,” Nicole French, a Site Coordinator at the Homeless Children’s Playtime Project, said. “Now with KIRF’s help we’re able to make the space more hospitable and kid-friendly for Playtime,” Ms. French said.

The wish list items were purchased with funds donated by KIRF's generous supporters. Angela and Mark pay for their airfare and hotel expenses out of their personal funds.

KIRF is a tax-exempt public charity 501(c)(3) organization as a member of the International Humanities Center (www.ihcenter.org). Donations are tax deductible to the full extent permissible by law. Our Tax Identification Number is 33-0767921.

For more information please go to the KIRF web site: www.kirfaid.org.