Time Flies at Tenderfeet

This month marks a special occasion for the Tenderfeet Foundation.

2006 Classrooms

Tenderfeet was evicted from this location five years ago

Five years ago this week, the first communication between our organization (in the U.S.) and Mama Margaret (in Kenya) began.

Reflecting on the early days of the Foundation is an interesting way to see how far we have come together.

Five years ago, the Tenderfeet Education Center was an existing project in Kenya, a school started by Mama Margaret Nyabuto in the year 2000.

However, in 2006, the school was in desperate straits.

The school had been recently evicted because of financial challenges and was struggling mightily to pay for rent and the food program.  Mama Margaret also had to depend on unreliable and often unskilled volunteer teachers.

Earlier that year, Tenderfeet had partnered with a brand-new charitable organization out of Portland, Oregon, called Lahash International.

Lahash had pledged to help raise awareness about Tenderfeet and its mission to serve victims of child poverty in the harsh slums of Kibera.  Unfortunately, Lahash was so brand new it had a very constrained budget and was only getting started finding donors.


Shadrack Otieno and classmates in 2006

Therefore, Lahash was quite limited in the amount of financial support it could provide Tenderfeet.

I didn’t know all this at the time, and was hoping to make a small donation to help with school supplies, so I emailed Margaret using the contact information Lahash had published through a Tenderfeet web page.

After inquiring if there were any particular items she might need, you can imagine my profound shock when her reply email contained the following line:

At the moment one child is in desperate acute financial need of assistance to undergo a specialized medical brain tumor surgery and he is an orphan.

She was describing the situation of Shadrack Otieno.

This was a pivotal moment, and set the path of our organization.

In particular, Margaret’s email meant two things:

1.  despite the critical problems of the school, Margaret’s main focus was on the well-being of her students

2. it was going to take a lot more than crayons and pencils to respond properly to the challenges set forth in her email!

Brittany Coleman

Brittany Coleman, our organization's first sponsor

All this happened in October 2006.  Right away, the fundraising activities for Shadrack’s brain surgery began in Houston.  But it was a slow beginning.

We had no idea what we were doing, but were fortunate to have two wonderful friends to lead the way.

Brittany Coleman was our first donor, and raised money by requesting help for Shadrack rather than presents for Christmas or her birthday.

She was a college student in Mississippi at the time, and she is now a teacher and still a sponsor, sharing news of Tenderfeet with her students.

Brittany’s involvement was a tremendous boost and encouraged us that there was hope for Shadrack and Tenderfeet. It showed there were people willing to help, we just had to find them.

About the same time, another Tenderfeet hero became involved.

This hero was Michele Moura, she was the chairperson of the Outreach Committee at Cornerstone United Methodist Church in Houston.

Michele led the efforts to get out the word to the wonderful, generous people of Cornerstone. She’s still a sponsor and champion for Tenderfeet to this day!

As a result of her efforts, and the kindness of the Cornerstone members, we were able to raise enough money — when combined with Brittany’s contributions — to pay for Shadrack’s surgery and save his life.

Michele Moura

Michele Moura led the efforts at Cornerstone to save Shadrack

Through this surgery, and one more in 2010, Shadrack was able to enjoy four more happy years of life before finally succumbing to his brain condition earlier this year.

Although we were devastated and heartbroken when he passed away, we celebrate the gift of those four years provided by the early donors who showed God’s love through their generosity.

Following Shadrack’s first surgery in early 2007, many big ups and big downs followed.  Most of these are summarized on the Tenderfeet history page.

One thing is for sure, we knew from the first few months of working together that we had a common goal of serving children living in extreme poverty.

Thankfully, God has worked through so many awesome people from all over the world, and we have made some strides in that direction these past five years.

Our vision and purpose remains exactly the same as we aim to continue to expand the school and uplift the lives of as many needy children as possible.

Now that we have a firm foundation, we can’t wait to see what will happen in the next five years!

School And Bus

In the early days, we had a dream of a bus and school building for the kids. Tenderfeet is so blessed to now have seen that dream become a reality!

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