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Hope for the Slums

Kenya’s Kibera slum is one of the most densely populated and disease-ridden areas in the world. With more than one million people living in an area of only one-and-a-quarter square miles, disease is rampant. The area has only one toilet for every 500 people, and open sewers provide breeding grounds for malaria-carrying mosquitoes and dangerous parasites. Kibera is one of the world’s largest slums.

When Simon Moore and Luke Winslade visited Kibera in late 2006, they were shocked at the conditions they witnessed. After returning home to New Zealand, they knew they needed to take action. “After seeing Kibera slum firsthand, the brainchild idea of 100 Days 100 Dollars was born,” says Natasha McGill, one of the campaign’s coordinators. “It’s a pretty simple equation of asking giving anybody the opportunity to raise $100 over 100 days and donate it to the school building project, no strings attached.”

100 Days 100 Dollars, the foundation Winslade and Moore started upon their return, seeks to provide education to the more than half-a-million children living in Kibera. They ask people to commit to giving $100 over a 100 day period in order to build schools in the slum. Through educating the slum’s children, the foundation hopes to see them form a better, healthier life. “The focus is purely education,” McGill says. “[It’s] realizing that a school also provides a central point for water and basic hygiene facilities. So the funds from the first 100 Days campaign in 2007 have built a classroom block to accommodate all the kids attending, as well as a toilet block.”

When Moore and Winslade started the campaign in 2007, involving music and the arts seemed a natural step. Winslade is a graphic designer and Moore is a musician, so music and the arts became avenues for involving people in educating the children of Kibera. “We’ve had great partnerships with bands that support 100 Days, where we’ve tagged along to gigs and been able to talk about the cause” McGill says. “We launched 100 Days last year at a charity fashion event with high-profile Kiwi designers and great bands. People involved in the arts have a great platform to inspire people with their involvement to leap onboard themselves.”

With its first campaign, One Hundred Days One Hundred Dollars was able to raise $50,000 to build a school in Kibera. “One hundred percent of the money raised went to the building project,” McGill explains. As they wind down their second campaign, they hope to ensure that the school they built remains sustainable. “The 2008 100 Days campaign will pay for final touches to the building, improving the play area and supplying educational resources to the school,” McGill says.

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The vision of the campaign has received tremendous support from local churches throughout New Zealand. “A huge number of networks that we launched through are church-based,” McGill says. However, as the campaign has grown, it has drawn the support of non-Christians as well. “As we’ve gained momentum and through events like the fashion show and the music connections, the campaign really is an all-comers. Whilst we’re Christian and have that as a firm foundation in our lives, the work is primarily about education that offers a real chance for hope and a future for these kids. Our Christian association certainly hasn’t hindered any of our major profile sponsors and supporters.”

Not only its accessibility, but its marketing has made 100 Days 100 Dollars successful amongst Christians and non-Christians alike. The campaign conducts guerilla marketing throughout the country, encouraging people to post 100 Days 100 Dollars stickers in public areas throughout the city. The stickers, bearing the intriguing phrase, “Slums Suck,” can be found on lampposts and park benches throughout Auckland. “We’ve distributed our promo material that tells the story of what’s happening, what we’ve done and what could happen in the future for these kids everywhere we can: Coffee houses, gigs, schools, churches, you name it,” McGill says. This kind of marketing has created mainstream interest in the campaign. “Because we’re simply on the web and on the street, 100 Days 100 Dollars is completely accessible for anyone,” McGill says. “People get motivated because they see others caring about it and believing they can do something, even just a little. It’s a lot for Kibera.”

As this year’s campaign winds down, there’s still time to get involved. The 2008 campaign finishes on November 25. To donate to 100 Days 100 Dollars or learn about other ways to be involved, visit their website.

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