Enabling Hope

Average 2012 monthly budget breakdown

Average 2012 monthly budget breakdown, here the total budget is $5910. This doesn't include capital improvements like classroom construction.

Many of the articles about Tenderfeet focus on fundraisers and donations.

While it’s certainly fun and worthwhile to highlight the great efforts of friends throughout the world helping Tenderfeet, the recurring discussion of money can feel a little on the unpleasant or distasteful side.

After all, it’s much more enjoyable and uplifting to talk exclusively about the children — what they are learning, and how they are growing up bright and strong.  It is their stories and development that we care most about.

However, what we have to keep in mind is that we can’t help the children if we aren’t able to keep the school and its programs running … and these things require funding.

After all, Tenderfeet is entirely donor-supported, and doesn’t charge fees like every other school in Kenya we know of.

In this article, let’s explore how donations get used.  If you are a donor, this will be a view into the Tenderfeet budget and how your hard-earned money is used to help needy children.

Please note that 100% of personal donations go directly to Kenya to help the school and its programs.

Organizational expenses like bank fees are covered by donations specifically designated by the donor for overhead as well as corporate matching funds.  I pay for my travel to Kenya out of my own pocket.

Benson Before and After

Benson Ngechu has received life-saving cancer treatments thanks to the Sponsorship & Assistance budget category. Top and bottom photos show treatments working on the tumor

In other words, your donations are used exclusively for helping the vulnerable in Africa, every penny goes to helping those that need it the most.

You can see the monthly 2012 budget at the top right of this article, broken down by category.  This represents an average over several months, whereas typically there is a fair bit of fluctuation due the way various expenses come in.

The total amount of the budget is an average of $5910 USD per month, which represents a large increase in expenses from the early days of Tenderfeet.  This monthly average does not include donations for capital improvements like buildings and land.

Let’s look at the categories and explore what each includes.

The food category (averaging $630 per month) is our budget for the school feeding program, which includes two meals per day.  You can find in-depth information about the program by reading this article and its follow-up.

This program is a very effective way to make a big impact on the children’s lives, since malnutrition and its effects (physical, emotional, and developmental) is a serious problem for children in the slums.

One impressive thing about the food budget is that it is $630 per month, and still manages to feed 110 kids twice per day for a month.  Although some food items are cheaper in Kenya, prices are still comparable to many affluent countries.  Mama Margaret does an amazing job staying within a tight budget.

Another item on the budget is the schoolbus (please see the photo at the end of this article), which averages $670 per month.  This amount covers the fuel (about $5 USD per gallon in Kenya), maintenance, and insurance.

The bus travels almost 5 hours per day, carrying thousands of children back and forth every month, and yet somehow manages not to be shaken into a thousand pieces by the rough roads.  Please read more about Tenderfeet transportation here.

The largest budget item is Sponsorship & Assistance.  This includes all the child sponsorship, which help our most vulnerable children get the food, shelter, and medical help they need.  These children receive monthly help directly from their sponsor’s donations.

Over 60 children receive some kind of assistance through this program.

It also includes an orphan fund, emergency fund, and girls fund (to help teenage  girls with feminine products).

Peter Muchina

Peter Muchina is one of the children who lives far from Tenderfeet and without our help, he would be out of school living in the dangerous environment of a refugee camp

It includes major medical assistance as well, such as the case of Benson Ngechu (please see photos above).  Benson was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma and has received several rounds of chemotherapy.  This life-saving medical treatment would not be possible with the Sponsorship & Assistance donations.

To see articles about Benson’s medical help, as well as other children who have gotten medical attention through Tenderfeet donations, please click here.

Non-Tenderfeet School Fees is used to help children go to school (those who are not able to attend Tenderfeet) who would otherwise not be able to go.  Most of these are high school kids whose academic careers would hit a dead end as soon as they completed class eight.

In most cases, these school fees are quite expensive, in the range of several hundred dollars per year.  A significant number of the twenty young people currently receiving this kind of assistance are in the Kipepeo Program for teenage girls.  Read more articles here.

We do have some boys as well, including Peter Muchina pictured at the right, whose school fees are paid through the Non-Tenderfeet School Fees budget item.

Peter’s situation is quite serious because if he didn’t attend boarding school, he would end up living with his mother in a refugee camp far from any school.  These refugee camps are infamous for their dangerous conditions, especially for children like Peter.

Every child that is assisted through this budget category has his or her own unique story, but all share the common element of extreme poverty which would prevent them from getting an education without Tenderfeet.

Finally, last but certainly not least, we have our Tenderfeet School Staff.

This group of amazing people, ranging from teachers to cooks to night watchman, all work together to create the ideal learning environment for children.  We currently have 7 teachers, a night watchman, two cooks, a social worker, bus driver, and a bookkeeper who receive some form of compensation.

In all cases, we are paying far below fair market salaries.  In fact, our teachers could probably go to a nearby school and pick up a sizable pay raise.   Of course, in the future, we hope to be more competitive in our pay, and are doing the best we can for the staff.  With our current budgets, however, we are facing limited financial resources with more needs than we can ever take care of.

These teachers remain at Tenderfeet, despite the low pay and financial troubles they face, because of their love and big hearts for the vulnerable children of Tenderfeet and the positive work environment fostered by Mama Margaret.

For instance, you can see in the photo below, Teacher Karen riding into Kibera with the Tenderfeet kids.  Karen makes sure all the Kibera children get off the bus safely and are met by a guardian.  It’s just one small but important way these teachers go well beyond the call of duty to serve the children.

Tenderfeet Schoolbus

The schoolbus is a miraculous machine that transports kids from the oppressive slums to the lovely countryside location of the Tenderfeet school. On the right you can see Teacher Karen riding the bus with 40+ children.

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