Presidents Message 2016

Several years ago we worked at a primary school in a large slum in Nairobi. One day as we travelled to the school in a beat up matatu (minivan), a well-dresseed man struck up a conversation. Before we got off, he admonished us saying, “When you leave don’t just go home and forget these children. Your coming has given them great hope. Stay in touch or it will be too discouraging for them.” His emphatic plea indeed left a mark.
Over the last several years, I’ve watched the cautious optimism of the parents and children we support in our One for One Program, give way to confidence, pride, and excitement. They stand taller. They speak louder. They know that they have gained momentum and it is driving them forward. Our ongoing involvement has shaped and propelled their dreams.
Providing financial and technical support makes this possible. Requiring contribution and partnership produces accountability. Our role however goes beyond these things. The relationship itself matters. By forming a personal connection, by continuing to visit them, encourage them, meet with them, year after year we communicate value. Our financial support and operational methods are part of the equation, but as that man knew, the ongoing relationship itself is essential.
Our vision, aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2016, is to empower Kenyans. In 2016, we launched Right to Be, a scholarship program for bright girls without financial support to continue their studies. In a few years we will see them graduate, obtain good jobs, and make an important contribution in their society. Without our help, they would still be sitting in the village, watching their futures vanish. An important part of this program is a mentorship component to connect the girls with role models in Canada and Kenya. We know that relationship empowers in a tangible way that goes beyond finances.
We are sincerely grateful for your continued investment in Kenyans, through Graceland Africa Mission. On the pages of this annual report you will see the impact that your funds have made and the many lives that have benefited. May you be encouraged to continue building relationships and empowering people.
Thank you for partnering with us. Diane Laakso