It’s not often that someone packing for a trip includes 1,000 pairs of underwear in their luggage, but that’s what an Ault Island couple did as they prepared to leave for Africa this week.
Gail Hamilton and Brian Barkley left on a mission to a Kenyan orphanage, October 8.
This is the second time Hamilton has made the journey and Barkley’s first.
Eight people are making the trip to the orphanage, the Ebenezer Life Centre in Ahero, Kenya.
The orphanage, run by Bishop Winnie Owiti, is not government supported. It relies on sponsors to cover the day to day needs of the 800 children who live there.
Owiti’s last visit to Canada, when she was here in Morrisburg, is the reason that Hamilton and Barkley decided to pack the 1,000 pairs of underwear.
“When she was here, she bought a bunch of underwear for the children at the orphanage; it was something they needed,” said Barkley. “She packed it in her luggage, and her luggage got lost, never to be found again.”
After hearing the story, Hamilton and Barkley set a goal to take 1,000 new pairs of underwear with them to the orphanage when they made the trip.
“We met and exceeded our goal,” said Hamilton.
They purchased most of the underwear themselves, taking advantage of various close out sales at discount stores, and friends made some donations.
In addition to the approximately $800 spent on underwear, Hamilton and Barkley each raised $2,000 for the orphanage.
While at the orphanage they plan to host a Canada Day event for the children, which will feature fun activities, sports and a special meal.
Hamilton got involved with the orphanage project through her cousin Lorraine Casselman, founder and executive director for the Canadians For the Children of Africa, a non-profit agency.
That was the reason for the first visit for Hamilton.
The reason for the second visit is the children of the orphanage.
“The children made me want to go back. Children here have everything; children there have nothing. The only thing they have is their smiles. They look at life differently.”
Barkley sees this trip as a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Though he is looking forward to the trip he is a unsure of how the experience will affect him.
Hamilton though, is very sure of how Barkley will be affected by the mission.
“His heart, that is already big, will open up even more. It really will. It happens when you get the opportunity to spend time with these children.”