By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer
Flying Kites cares for 26 homeless, orphaned and abused children at its Leadership Academy in Kinangop, Kenya. The center is located on 12 acres at the foothills of the Aberdares Mountain Range. At the Flying Kites Leadership Academy, the children experience the high quality child care, have access to excellent medical services and receive a first-class education.
Morrall traveled to Flying Kites Leadership Academy (FKLA) for the first time in June 2010 and spent a month there. In October 2010, she moved to Kenya to facilitate the group's volunteers on a day-to-day basis. She lived at FKLA for a year, moving back to Boston in October 2011.
“To be honest, I still struggle to put into words or coherent thoughts how much the year I spent in Kenya means to me,” Morrall said. “Without hesitation I will say it was the happiest and hardest year of my life. I fell more in love with 26 children than I ever dreamed possible. I learned what it meant to live beyond yourself every day – to wake up thinking about the needs, wants and dreams of others, and to fall asleep doing the same, ever smiling.”
The longer she lived there, the more Morrall believed that the “beautifully vibrant” Flying Kites family was raising children who will go on to better their society. Whether as doctors, lawyers, farmers, business owners, teachers or politicians, the children of Flying Kites will be compassionate, honest and courageous citizens. They have known suffering and need, but, through Flying Kites, have been given the tools all young people need – imagination, resolution, and education – to achieve what they dream of.
“Living amidst the Flying Kites children and working alongside the incredible team of Kenyans [teacher's, guards, matrons, tutors, managers] that the organization employs, redefined my understanding of hard work and perseverance and expanded my capacity to love and give as I watched them love more and give more than I previously knew was possible,” Morrall said.
The experience changed Morrall and motivated her to return to the United States to grow the streams of revenue (to Flying Kites) so that these children, and the ones Flying Kites will adopt in the future, have all every possible opportunity.
“Educating vulnerable youth is especially critical and should be considered a matter of global concern in an impoverished country like Kenya, which borders the collapsed, terrorist-laden country of Somalia,” she said. “If the youth are not well educated, the country may not continue to make forward progress and a decline would quickly become a matter of international security.”
Not only has Morrall developed a deep connection to the children and staff at Flying Kites, she has made it a personal mission to support them through her fundraising efforts. Her first fundraising efforts were through the Flying Kites Adventure Challenges Program (http://flyingkitesglobal.org/ac/). In June 2010, she participated in the program's inaugural trip to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, calling it an experience and a challenge of a lifetime. In May 2011, she hosted a cocktail party and auction at the Framingham Country Club, and later that month participated in the NorthFace Endurance Challenge Series at Bear Mountain (N.Y.) She ran the half marathon and did her fundraising via an online campaign, which she will be doing once again in May. Morrall is excited about running at Bear Mountain again this year because she believes that fundraising events which ask those raising the funds to seriously challenge themselves are particularly powerful. It is very difficult to ask others for money and support, she said, but far less so when a participant can show that the cause matters so much to them that they would sacrifice and give a great deal of themselves.
Morrall is participating in the NorthFace Endurance Challenge on behalf of Flying Kites because she believes that every child deserves a happy and healthy childhood, a loving family, and a high quality education.
“The children we care for have lost their parents, but we have created a new, loving and nurturing family for them, and we intend to provide them with all the opportunities you would want for your own children,” she said.
In Morrall's recently acquired role as director of development, she works with supporters and ambassadors (the term they use for volunteers) to design and execute fundraising campaigns on behalf of Flying Kites. She seeks out donations from private individuals, service-oriented groups (such as churches and Rotary clubs), and organizes both large- and small-scale events to raise money for the organization. Currently, she is organizing an event called the Pamoja Challenge (pamoja is a Kiswahili word meaning together or unity) in partnership with the Adirondack Club, set to occur Saturday, June 16, in Franklin. The event will consist of a men's and women's doubles tennis tournament as well as a family fitness competition modeled after a sprint distance triathlon. It will be open to the public.
For more information on the Bear Mountain event, visit www2.thenorthface.com/endurancechallenge/races/2011/ny/index.html.
To find out more about Flying Kites visit http://flyingkitesglobal.org/