The Gleaner

‘Once we realize that our community is a global one, we all win’

I AM HESHIMA is an organization founded by Hemmingford’s Lexis Beattie. For years she has worked to provide education to children in Kenya, and she says “Education, [like] many other human rights, is something that is widely taken for granted here.” This year, Valley resident Don Rosenbaum decided to celebrate his 75th birthday by raising funds for I AM HESHIMA.

Rosenbaum had plans to travel to Kenya for his birthday to volunteer with the organization. However, he realized that the money that would be spent on travel expenses like airfare and insurance would be put to better use if donated directly to the organization. He says, “My whole life as an educator has been promoting lifelong learning – particularly with children. I AM HESHIMA attracted me because of its purpose, effectiveness, and personal connection.”


Heshima means respect and dignity in Swahili and the Hemmingford organization strives to create a world where every childs rights are respected and lives dignified through education PHOTO IAmHeshimaorg


Though he may not be traveling to Kenya this year, Rosenbaum has found other ways to support I AM HESHIMA. He has launched a Facebook fundraiser for his birthday where people can donate to the organization. His children are also organizing a birthday party at which Beattie will have a booth set up with items she has brought back from Kenya to sell; this will be an additional way to help raise money for the charity’s different programs.

Right now, I AM HESHIMA has been working on “focusing on academic scholarships at the primary, secondary and post-secondary level,” according to Beattie. It has a new initiative called #TwendeUni, which is a “a post-secondary scholarship fund for exceptional young leaders.” This is one of the organization’s primary focuses right now. It has put a pause on having volunteers in Kenya as it develops a new program: “We are creating a unique volunteer program (also known as ‘no voluntourism’) and it will kick-start with a sustainable bang when all involved parties are ready to hit the ground running.” Updates will be posted on social media, or you can email to get involved with this initiative.

Rosenbaum encourages folks to get involved with different community organizations across the Valley. “There are many local organizations offering services and volunteer activities in the region. I drive for SABEC, which offers transport to medical appointments, and Communic-Action, which provides drives to seniors for local shopping and errands.” He mentions that The Montérégie West Community Network is another organization that is looking for community volunteers.


Man sitting with his dog in his lap
Educator Don Rosenbaum at left with friend has decided to use his 75th birthday as an opportunity to raise funds for children in Kenya through I am Heshima PHOTO Facebook


Beattie explains that supporting I AM HESHIMA is easy, and there are many ways you can do it. Through its website, you can sign up to sponsor a child’s education or make a one-time or monthly donation. Cans and bottles are collected all year. Beattie says you can host an event and attach a fundraising goal to it, for example a birthday party, wine-and-cheese night, or even participation in a marathon. The organization will also be at Chateauguay Valley Regional High School for the Barrie Memorial Hospital Women’s Auxiliary craft fair on November 5.

Some people have asked the question, “Why help across an ocean when we still need help here?” To that Beattie responds, “I believe it to be our duty as human beings to reach our potential and leave our mark on the world.” There are many ways to help I AM HESHIMA, and Beattie reminds us all that “Life extends far beyond the borders of our beautiful Valley, and once we realize that our community is a global one, we all win.”

For more information, you can check out the I AM HESHIMA website and Facebook page for updates.

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