Update on University student Maureen Wairimu


As reported in a previous newsletter article and Facebook posts Maureen’s education has been sponsored since she began attending Jambo Jipya in second grade. Her excellent grades granted her admission to the nationally recognized Bahari Secondary Boarding school for girls in Kilifi County which was also funded by a generous donor with Reason2Smile. Since graduation in December of 2016 Maureen applied and was admitted to the University of Nairobi’s School of Economics which she began in September of 2017. Her university tuition is being for by the 2017 Calhoun Senior Experience class. Their annual fashion show fundraiser raised 10,000 USD which was donated to Reason2Smile on Maureen’s behalf. This way “seniors are supporting another senior.” My son Ryan and classmate Olivia DelGaudio traveled with me to Kenya in April 2017 to tell her the news in person. It was a wonderful trip with memories that will last a lifetime. Maureen is starting her second semester and here is an email note that she sent to the 2018 Calhoun Senior Experience class:

“I had a successful first semester at the University of Nairobi that began in September. It was interesting to meet new friends, have lecturers instead of teachers and adapt to a new environment and a different teaching mode.

I did eight units for the first Semester (the maximum allowed) being mostly common units that a university student must complete before concentrating with one’s course of interest.

The units were Psychology, Economic History of Kenya, Logics, Micro-Economics, Sociology Legal Systems and Legal Methods, Basic Mathematics and Communication Skills.

I shall now be registering for different units in the coming semester and major units that now focus on Economics as a course.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you – your kind hearts have allowed a poor child the opportunity to now become an educated lady of substance that will go on to give back to her society. Without your support I would not be able to live my dream – words cannot express my gratitude.

Yours Sincerely,

Maureen Wairimu.


Construction Update

IMG_2134-2Due to our successful Giving Tuesday campaign this past November, Reason2Smile was able to address the structural damage that occurred because of the Kenya government paving the road in front of the Jambo Jipya School. While this was a much-needed improvement, there was no proper drainage, run off or sewer system included. The elevated cement road allowed a huge pool of runoff water to settle against the wall of the school causing damage that needed to be addressed immediately. The construction work took place during the month of December while school was not in session. We are happy with the results – a new fortified wall and foundation, runoff drainage and roof repair work. I will personally inspect the construction project this March/April when I make my next trip to Kenya.

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Engaging Cultural Diversity Through Music, Dance, Film, Food, and the Visual Arts

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Adirondack Global Arts Festival was created with the purpose of promoting culturally diverse arts programming in the Adirondacks.  The Lake Placid Center for the Arts, Reason 2 Smile, Adirondack Diversity Initiative, John Brown Lives and Adirondack Film Society have collaborated to bring this festival to the communities of the Adirondacks.

The festival this year is diverse and includes in school programming, restaurant events, LPCA events and more.  In school events slated for March 6th, 8th, and 9th at Westport School and a screening of the movie Coco for area students in the Spanish language arts, March 9th at LPCA.  Friday evening March 9th brings music events to two local restaurants including a live broadcast of the Beat Authority.  Saturday morning March 10th is Kids Fest in Saranac Lake at the Adirondack Carousel.  Our festival culminates with all afternoon and evening programming Saturday March 10th at the LPCA..  Workshops for all ages, an indoor street fair, and performances all within the theme of Global Arts.

This year’s festival brings 3 headlining performers to the LPCA from the Burlington area.  Taiko Japanese drummers, Jeh Kulu West African Drum and Dance Troupe and Sabouyouma Funk Fusion West African Band.  Our street fair and workshops will range from Tibetan singing bowls and henna tatoos, to Kenyan goods and Caribbean food.


Adirondack Global Arts Festival

is an annual community event.

It is created with the support of local sponsors and grants

Giving Reasons to Smile – November 2017 Fundraising Campaign


Giving Reasons to Smile – November 2017 Fundraising Campaign

Reason2Smile has a had a busy and productive year. The Jambo Jipya school is thriving and many major improvements have been made.  The money raised from our successful 2016 Giving Tuesday campaign allowed for eight new bathrooms to be built, updates to made to the kitchen area, some new roofing and the creation of a new science lab with quiet study area.

Another wonderful upgrade was the interior painting of the school hallways and classrooms. An elementary school that fundraises every year for Reason2Smile supplied the funding and the older Jambo Jipya boys under the supervision of Fisher Pamba (the director’s son) supplied the manpower.


As the 2018 school year approaches there is certainly more to do. The outer wall and front to the school are in need of repair. Reason2Smile wanted to address this last year but did not have enough funding to do all that was necessary.

As we approach the month of Thanksgiving, Reason2 Smile is launching a Buy a Brick fundraising campaign. Starting November 17 and culminating on Giving Tuesday – November 27 please donate either online or by check to Reason2Smile. Our goal is $5000.00 dollars. We are asking for donations in increments of:

$100.00 Gold

$50.00 – Silver

$25.00 Bronze

Of course, any amount is appreciated, so give what you can.

Jambo Jipya is a haven for the over 200 students who attend and the opportunities they are being provided are truly priceless. This would never happen without the support of donors like you. You are making a difference in children’s lives and that is something to be very proud of.

Myself and the Reason2Smile Board of Directors thank you for your support.


Donna Rosenblum

Executive Director, Reason2Smile




Wall Repair Project

20b41179-4fe8-4a39-8743-d48dbdf2524cDuring this past year The Kenya government paved some the main side roads in the town of Mtwapa. One of these was the road that the Jambo Jipya school is on. While this is a much-needed improvement, there is no proper drainage, run off or sewer system in place. The elevated cement road has caused a huge pool of water to exist against the side wall of the school when a major rain occurs. This has caused structural damage to the school and needs to be addressed. We have had contractors discuss options and need to rebuild the wall and the foundation and provide a run off option along with a small retaining wall to protect the school. The estimated cost of the project is around $5000.00. Construction is already underway and we need your support! Reason2Smile will hold a “Buy a Brick” fundraiser campaign. We need at least 50 donors to contribute 100 dollars each to pay for a real brick that will be part of our new wall. Please click here to contribute.

Jambo Jipya gets a paint job

22f9a63e-dcf9-4cdf-a937-5a5f6b101defOne of the projects this past month was to paint the classrooms and hallways at Jambo Jipya. This was a much needed endeavor, as the school was showing some wear and tear. The project was spear headed by Fisher Pamba, along with his team of the older boys from the Jambo Jipya children’s home. Fisher and I bought all the supplies while I was there and the boys supplied the muscle power. We feel this will become an annual event every August.

A Jambo Jipya Board Member – Philip Beech


I met Phil at the Jambo Jipya orphanage in 2015 during my annual visit to Kenya. He is a member of Christine Mwende’s Jambo Jipya Board of Directors and visits the school and orphanage two to three times a year. We stay in touch through phone, email and social media and might see each this summer when we both plan on returning to Mtwapa at the end of July.

Here is a little about him in his own words:

I was lucky enough to be able to retire early from a high pressure sales job working with a US based multi-national Company. I decided to do an African safari in Kenya which was extremely incredible but it gave me a firsthand look at the difficulties and hardships that is prevalent in Kenya.

When I came home my only job was some local community work. I searched the web to see if there were opportunities for me work for a few weeks in hospitals, schools, relief centers and one morning I found the contact information for the Jambo Jipya school. After a few attempts I finallyreached Christine Mwende and told her that I wanted to do volunteer work at the school. So I booked a plane ticket for Mtwapa. My family thought I was crazy and after a few days in Mtwapa I thought maybe they were right! Christine was very distrustful of me and my motives and it took me a few days to prove to her that I genuinely wanted to help. I realized how naive I had been but it was a good lesson and the end result was that Christine and I learned to trust each other. Shortly after Christine asked if I would go with her to help sort out a boundary issue with the Land Registry in Kilifi and Mombasa. I said yes providing the discussions would be in English.

At the meeting, I was shocked at the overall lack of respect and blatant sexism that was displayed. I realized the difficulties Christine faced on a daily basis as a woman and the director of a school. I believe my being there that day helped to resolve a problematic issue and solidified our relationship.

Whenever I travel to Mtwapa, Christine will often ask me to go with her to meetings or sometimes saves up issues for my visit. Not only do I bring donations but try to assist financially by funding special projects. I am grateful for the opportunity to help in whatever way I can. We both know that JJ is just one of hundreds of schools in Africa doing what they are doing, but for me Christine has created something special at the Jambo Jipya school and orphanage. I’m not a religious person but I have to respect the strong Christian values she has infused by her leadership and the good vibes there as well. The children seem to enjoy their life without material trappings and have many reasons to smile. My next trip to Mtwapa will be end July and as always I look forward to my visits

Phil Beech

Calhoun High School Senior Experience Fashion Show


On April 6th 2017, The Sanford H Calhoun Senior Experience class from Merrick, NY held its annual Fashion Show and donated its proceeds to Reason2Smile. This program is an interdisciplinary humanities program that incorporates English and social studies lessons coupled with an out of school internship experience. A major component of the Senior Experience program is community service and developing leadership skills. The Fashion Show is a culmination of the students’ hard work and dedication.

100% of the proceeds are donated to an organization of their choice and Reason2Smile won 70% of the class vote this year. Myself, my son Ryan along with fellow classmate Olivia DelGandio left for Mtwapa, Kenya on April 7th for a two-week trip where we stayed at the Jambo Jipya orphanage. It was a fantastic trip full of special memories, friendships and eye-opening experiences about life in another part of the world. My family has been so supported of my work with Reason2Smile and I love when they travel with me to share my experiences. This was Ryan’s third trip to Kenya and I enjoy watching his interactions with the children and how they consider him their brother from America. Olivia also was fully accepted into the Jambo Jipya family and I know she will return in the years to come.

There were many highlights on this trip but one very special one was Ryan and Olivia’s meeting with Maureen Wairimu. Maureen’s education has been sponsored since she began attending Jambo Jipya in second grade. Her excellent grades granted her admission to the nationally recognized Bahari Secondary Boarding school for girls in Kilifi County which was also funded by a generous donor with Reason2Smile. Now Maureen has graduated and is seeking admission to university to study economics. That is where Calhoun’s Senior Experience comes in. When Ryan and I presented to the class we spoke of Maureen and her dreams of attending university as well as how Reason2Smile tries to support Jambo Jipya graduates to attend trade schools or certificate post-secondary programs. The students embraced the idea that they could make a difference in Maureen’s life by financing her university expenses. This way “seniors are supporting another senior.” The Senior X class raised 10,000USD with the Fashion Show and Olivia and Ryan got to tell Maureen the big news in person. To say she was speechless doesn’t even come close. Maureen was so overcome with emotion that we all got tears in our eyes. She is so appreciative and wants everyone to know how thankful she is. I will update you all on her acceptances as we will know shortly what university she will be attending. She is presently in Mombasa taking computer classes in preparation for college in September.


The Jambo Jipya Children’s home has moved

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During the fall the Jambo Jipya children’s home moved to a new location. The former home
was being neglected by the landlord although numerous complaints were made. Then the
landlord opened a late night café/store in front of the home and infringed on the home’s
property. This situation was not safe, secure or in the orphan children’s best interests. A new
larger home was found in a much quieter area of town and after some repair work was
completed the children moved in. This new environment is much better suited for the
children and they are extremely happy here. When I visit in April I will also be staying at the
new home and will make a full report then.
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Shopping with Amazon Smile all year long

In December Reason2Smile registered with Amazon Smile which donates 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the charitable organization of your choice. Please support Reason2Smile by using the smile.amazon.com link every time you shop on Amazon. The smile.amazon.com link does not appear on the regular Amazon page. Update your favorites and then Reason2Smile benefits all year long. Unfortunately it does not work with the Amazon app. – only with the link.
Thanks and please share this information with all your friends, colleagues and family.
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