Out in the bush of Kenya are the beginnings of hope for many nomadic Maasai people. Begun by American missionaries Ken and Sandy Taylor, the Seeds of Hope Project is planning to build a water pump, well and solar powered electricity system. It's a huge undertaking and one that Hailey resident Dot McIntire is throwing her whole being into.
In fact, McIntire is moving to Kenya in early September to help facilitate the project's success.
"I'm going indefinitely," she laughed. "I'm taking my silverware."
The project, for which they are raising $100,000, will include a school for girls, a home for McIntire and the Taylors, as well as a clinic open to anyone wandering by who needs help. The idea started because so many Maasai were already coming by seeking medical attention from the Taylors.
"Because we're white they assume we can help. You're almost frantic trying to find something to help them. With a refrigerator we can vaccinate almost 600 kids a month and pay a nurse practitioner for $100.
"Part of my job is to make sure that money goes where it's supposed to whether to the solar system or to medical. The account remains here. And I'll have access to only use it for what it is intended," she said.
The Taylors, who are in their 60s, have lived outside of a small village called Kimana for 10 years without running water or electricity. Right now they are making bricks by hand from water they have drawn from a village water tank and hauled back.
The school will provide education for the young Maasai girls who receive little or no formal education and are married off as early as 13. Their worth is measure in the price of a dowry, which might be a goat.
"By building the school for girls we hope to change their lives for the better through education," McIntire said.
Her partners in this venture, stateside are Dan Lively and Vern Brander. Together they are part of the graduating class of the International School of Ministry at the Live Church in Hailey. Lively is an electrical engineer at Power Engineers and has hit up some of his colleagues to help design the solar system.
"I asked Dan how hard it would be to get power out there," McIntire said. "He looked at it a minute and said we could do that."
To make all this happen they are putting together a large raffle that will have its drawing on July 4 after the Hailey Days of the Old West Rodeo. The final stage is a large ticket item, which will be announced Labor Day weekend. Donations are still being sought for both drawings, though the list of prizes currently is fairly impressive. Businesses all over the valley have contributed.
Raffle tickets will be sold from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 2, at Albertson's; in Hailey at the Hailey Atkinsons' Saturday, June 10; at Giacobbi Square in Ketchum, Saturday, June 17, and the following Saturday, June 24 at Atkinsons' Valley Market in Bellevue. Concurrently, a yard sale will take place at House of Prayer, right next door. All material donations for the yard are 100 percent tax deductible.
For more information, donations and raffle tickets, call McIntyre at 720-6657 or Vern Brander at 481-2081 or during the day at the Sun Valley Post Office.