“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
Holly Bantleman is an adventurer. Young, vibrant and looking for something new, Holly decided to start what many of us have dreamed about, embarking on an around the world trip. She was searching for that “life changing experience.” At times, we all wonder if travelling will mould us into stronger, more aware people. Holly decided to find out for herself and set out to see what the world had to offer. Little did she know, that this idea would take her into a journey that she could have never expected.
Holly enjoyed the first year of travelling. After visiting many countries and having many new experiences, she decided to make the trek to Kenya. Something was missing and perhaps Kenya had the answer.
After arriving in Kenya, Holly heard about a village in the town of Nakuru. Nicknamed “London”, Holly decided to visit it, after all, she was from London England herself. As Holly peered into the “village” named after her city, she was stunned to see that this actually a literal dump site. The electoral violence between 2007 and 2009 in Kenya had displaced over 250 people to a landfill. These families lived on rubbish. They survived off of the waste of others.
The repugnant smell of garbage and feces was overwhelming. These displaced people rummaged through the seas of waste in an attempt to find food. Stunned, Holly was approached by many children with bright smiles. Families were very hospitable and showed Holly their makeshift homes made of plastic on top of the dump. She noticed that they had even taken the time to decorate their individual homes with tin cans and plastic flowers. Children would make toys out of rubbish and the women happily weaved beautiful bags out of discarded plastic. AIDS is rampant amongst the people, often passed to children from the breast milk of their mothers. The dark shadow of poverty enveloped these kind humble people. This was their life, this was reality and Holly found herself right in the middle of it all.
While most people would have turned around and left the landfill without looking back, Holly accepted this challenge, which was how “Raise The Roof Kenya” was born. Originally, “Raise The Roof Kenya” was created to provide more adequate housing for those living in “London.” Holly, a photographer by trade flies on her own expense to Kenya with her team and build more adequate housing. She wants to buy land so she can relocate the community so they can live in a safer area. Holly knew that she could provide even more, therefore, Raise The Roof Kenya expanded to making the overall lives of Kenyans a little easier.
From sponsoring children in the area, to encouraging our communities to host parties and fundraisers, Holly and her team can do it all. THINK BIG is one of her many projects, aiding specifically to older children. Holly recognized that there is hardly any funding for older children. Unfortunately with no skill set or tools, children often turn to prostitution or selling drugs in order to survive. Think Big provides these children with a simple home and a school to teach them a skill set in order to find work other then the horrible atrocities of the streets.
Another important and successful project is Holly’s BRA campaign. Women all over the world can donate their used bras so Raise The Roof Kenya can provide adequate support for Kenyan women. From sizes A to E, bras of all shapes and sizes are needed! Having a proper bra can lower extreme back pain and allow Kenyan women to work more effectively and care for their families.
Bantleman has also organized a hike to the top of Mount Kenya. You can join her to hike into the New Year or donate to her cause. All of the proceeds go to Raise the Roof Kenya and helping these inspirational yet impoverished people.
A few short years ago, Holly set across the world to find herself. Today, she is the owner and operator of a charity helping those who are most in need. Seeing the hospitality of those in “London” humbles all of us. Those who usually have next to nothing give the most. Holly Bantleman is the perfect example of a person who rose to the challenge to help those most in need. It is evident that to truly find yourself, you must help others. Holly rose to the occasion and her hard work and determination have helped others find themselves as well. One person can truly make a difference, with an open heart and open mind. Sometimes new experiences to come to us, rather then searching for the experience we want.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was quoted as saying, “The life of a man consists not in seeing visions and in dreaming dreams, but in active charity and willing service.” Holly rose to the challenge by “raising the roof” for displaced persons in Kenya. It only takes one person’s determination to make a huge difference for so many.
If you are not able to join her in her charitable visits to Kenya you can donate to this UK based charity:
Visit Holly and her team and read more stories at www.raisetheroofkenya.com
Raise The Roof Kenya is on facebook and twitter!