Waxhaw teen’s organization raises $168,000 to fund clinic for Kenyan village
Mariah Hughes’ dream is about to become reality. The 17-year-old Waxhaw resident received an e-mail last week informing her that her organization, Project Kandaria, has raised enough money to build a medical clinic for village residents.
Mariah founded Project Kandaria after a trip to the Kenyan village of Kandaria opened her eyes to the country’s need for medical care. Because the village has no local clinic, residents in need of treatment must make an arduous three-mile trek up a mountain to the nearest medical facility. Project Kandaria was created to help establish a clinic within the village, so that individuals would not have to further endanger themselves when seeking medical care.
When Union County Weekly spoke with Mariah back in October, Project Kandaria needed about $123,000 to fund the development of the clinic. During that month, Waxhaw’s Five Stones Church hosted a silent auction to raise funds, collecting a little more than $30,000.
Grace Community, a church in Pennsylvania that has partnered with Project Kandaria, also raised money through golf events.
“By November, we had a remaining need of about $90,000,” Mariah said.
Then, Mariah received word from an anonymous donor. The donor offered to present Project Kandaria with a matching gift. If the organization could raise $45,000 by April 2011, the donor would match that amount, leaving Project Kandaria with enough money to fund the clinic.
Mariah immediately contacted the director of 410 Bridge, an organization in Atlanta that focuses on Kenya and works alongside Project Kandaria, and told him what had happened. They updated their websites and began creating flyers to hand out.
With only a few months to go before the deadline, Mariah knew she didn’t have time to plan another fundraiser. “We thought, ‘Let’s just get the word out and see what happens,’” she said.
By January, Project Kandaria had raised $17,000 and still needed $28,000 to meet the required amount. Mariah began to wonder how the organization would raise this much money in a mere 10 weeks.
She then turned to her church, Carmel Baptist. At first, she was a little hesitant to ask for assistance. The church had previously informed her that it could not donate any additional money to Project Kandaria, because Carmel had already set up a fund for the organization.
However, at the urging of the people around her, she decided to ask once more. “I didn’t want to be pushy, but I went ahead and asked anyway,” said Mariah.
That’s when the e-mail came. Mariah was sitting in English class last Tuesday and needed to log on to send an assignment. To her astonishment, she saw a new message from Tommy Tucker, the chairman of the mission committee at Carmel, saying Project Kandaria’s need for $28,000 had just been met.
“When I read it, I literally squealed with excitement,” Mariah said.
Carmel’s ability to meet this need came about through an ironic twist of fate. Recently, a long-time member of Carmel Baptist named Kay Couick passed away, leaving her life insurance policy to the church’s Women on Mission fund.
Church officials decided that, because the church does not currently have a WOM program, the best way to honor the past generation would be to donate this money to the next generation.
The church will take $28,000 from the fund to give to Project Kandaria in honor of Mariah and the other young women who have helped this organization flourish.
Once the groundbreaking begins, the people of Kandaria will begin working on the building, which will take approximately three months to construct.
According to Jim and Renee Hughes, Mariah’s parents, the men and women of Kandaria are hardworking and will undoubtedly adopt the construction of the clinic as their own project.
“They are very eager to get started,” said Renee. “They are not looking for hand-downs, like [Mariah] said before.”
Jim added, “[The people of Kandaria] know how to pace their work. They will do the harder work in the morning and the easier work in the afternoon, so they can continue to work every day until the job is completed.”
Although Mariah and the rest of Project Kandaria are thrilled about the clinic, merely constructing a building will not meet all of Kandaria’s needs. The people will need medicine, supplies, and trained physicians and nurses to keep the clinic going.
The groundbreaking date for the clinic’s construction has not been set at this time, but 410 Bridge relationship & marketing director Chuck Pitts hopes it will be before the summer. “We are finalizing the access of the land permits in Kandaria in anticipation of breaking ground for the medical clinic by the end of May,” said Pitts.
Mariah graduates this year from Arborbrook Christian Academy and is excited about taking a year off from school to work and travel overseas, which will include a third trip to Kandaria sometime this summer. She plans to enroll next year at Columbia International University and work towards a dual major in international studies and Bible.
Mariah doesn’t really know what’s next for Project Kandaria. “It’s too soon to tell,” she says. “We’re kind of waiting to see what the next step is.”
Kandaria’s needs are not limited to medical care. Other necessities include food and educational resources. “If the high school kids had more sponsorship, they could have a science lab,” said Renee. “Working in a lab will help [the students] with testing and getting into college.”
There are many ways to help Kandaria, and Mariah urges the people in our community to get involved. “You can visit the 410 Bridge website,” she said. “They always have information on how to help. You can sponsor a child. You can help someone [from our community] go there, or you can go yourself.”
Project Kandaria means much more to the Hughes family than just raising money or supplying them with medical care. The people of the village have a special place in the hearts of Jim, Renee and Mariah. “These are some of the most amazing people,” says Renee. “Our lives have been forever changed by them.”