By Essie Wambui
The Abeingo Annual dinner dance took place a weekend ago at St. Bernard de Clairvaux in Toronto.
The evening schedule included handing out the 2015 Abeingo Association Annual Award for Outstanding Community Service; which went to Irene Njoroge-Maina, Director and Founder of CAfRIC International.
The Annual Abeingo Community award celebrates Canadians and members of the Kenyan diaspora in Canada who go above and beyond in their dedication and service to others and who devote time and energy to making the community more caring, dynamic, beautiful, healthy, and unique – people who inspire by example.
Her passion, compassion and care has focused on assisting those marginalized by mental health, substance use and other socially stigmatized conditions.
Irene’s compassion was in evidence recently when she came to the rescue of a girl named Fidelis Muthoni from Murang’a Kenya, who was born with a tumor on her face. Fidelis was due for surgery in Canada courtesy of The Herbie Fund.
Irene learned of this baby’s story from a Facebook post by an NGO in Kenya and reached out to the NGO and offered to host the family for free if they could raise their transportation money to Canada. She then reached out and stayed in touch with the team at Sick Kids Hospital, Dr. Wanyoike the neurosurgeon in Kenyatta Hospital who was in-charge of Baby Fidelis case, and Fidelis’ family.
A team of doctors from Sick Kids hospital in Toronto had offered to treat Baby Fidelis for free if the family paid for her flight and six-month stay. However, the family was allegedly conned KSh2.8 million raised by well-wishers through the Kenyan NGO that purported to be working on behalf of the family. It was only through the quick action of President Uhuru Kenyatta, who paid for her air ticket and Irene, who offered to host this family free of charge in Canada, that the baby was able to travel to Canada for surgery.
After many months of preparation and a battery of tests, Baby Fidelis is undergoing surgery today, Tuesday November 17, 2015.
Sometimes the smallest things that often go unnoticed make the biggest impact. Irene’s act of kindness is an inspiration to all of us. As Mother Teresa said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
Additionally, Irene has been a great champion of the right of the girl child, a major objective of Abeingo Association of Canada. She successfully led the Kenyan community in Ontario Women’s Forum in their mandate to provide opportunities for youth in the Kenyan community.
In her own words – Irene’s appreciation of the award:
“I thank the Abeingo Association Canada for this humbling recognition. As a Kenyan, it is encouraging to see those who share my heritage addressing the same issues that drive my passion and recognizing the need for us as Kenyans, Africans and Canadians to rally together in advocacy for social issues that continue to impede our individual and community development.
As I and CAFRIC International continue to advocate and stand in this gap, I call upon my fellow Kenyans, Africans and Canadians to stand together and support individual and organizational efforts that promote social justice, social inclusion, and social development. The power to change is within us all, and we must rise above our fears and tap into the power within to build healthy communities at home and around the world.”
“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering” (George Lucas, Star Wars, Episode 1). Let us collectively say NO to human suffering!
Founded in 2004 and incorporated in 2007, Abeingo Association is a non-profit Ontario-based social association that seeks to empower members economically through social support.
~Photos courtesy of Gebu