BUSIA, Kenya — The holidays came early for children of Busia Compassionate Centre, an orphanage in rural western Kenya supported by World Council of Credit Unions, thanks to a group of U.S. credit union volunteers who recently visited to help construct new playground equipment, donate toys and conduct a training session for the stakeholders of the orphanage's new credit union, Busia Compassionate Savings and Credit Cooperative (SACCO).
Among the visitors were Bruce Foulke, World Council board member and American Heritage Federal Credit Union (AHFCU) president and CEO; Carla Altepeter, Numerica Credit Union CEO; Hank Hubbard, Communicating Arts Credit Union (CACU) CEO; and Sierra Chiesa, Frankenmuth Credit Union member services representative.
During the visit, the U.S. volunteers trained SACCO board members, orphanage students and volunteers on the difference between credit unions and banks, governance, savings and credit. They also helped build a playground, largely sponsored by Michigan credit unions, to top off the orphanage's new facilities.
In addition, the visitors held a holiday celebration, where Foulke dressed as Santa Clause and gave out presents. His wife, Melissa Foulke, a school teacher who has forged a relationship with the orphanage by sending a dress collection crafted by students in her fashion and design class and exchanging letters with the children, also sent videos of her students reading books and singing that her husband presented to the Busia children and staff. He also connected Foulke's students with the Busia children in real time through FaceTime video calls.
The international credit union movement has contributed to the stability and self-sustainability of Busia Compassionate Centre by providing food stipends, educational scholarships, donating needed items like school and first aid supplies and funding the construction of new orphanage facilities, which will be completed in the next few weeks. AHFCU, Numerica Credit Union and CACU have all contributed financially toward the costs of food, medicine, education and the construction of new facilities. By initially building a foundation to meet the orphanage's basic needs-food, water, education and shelter-World Council can proceed to offer the entire community with access to financial services through the orphanage's SACCO.
"The generous support from the U.S. credit unions has greatly facilitated the success of this program," said Brian Branch, World Council president and CEO.
World Council began working with Busia Compassionate Centre and SACCO in 2006 as part of a U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded program in Kenya aimed at mitigating the impact of HIV/AIDS on economic growth through credit union modernization. Busia's SACCO is one of the first in Kenya to use e-SACCO methodology, which allows members to make deposits and withdrawals from their account using M-Pesa, a mobile money transfer service, and World Council cellphone technology. World Council will implement its Semilla Cooperativa [cooperative seed] outreach methodology to enable SACCO field agents to help bring financial services to rural communities using smartphones and portable printers.
Learn more about Busia Compassionate Centre at www.busiaorphanage.org.
World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development agency for credit unions. World Council promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services. World Council advocates on behalf of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation. Its technical assistance programs introduce new tools and technologies to strengthen credit unions' financial performance and increase their outreach.
World Council has implemented more than 290 technical assistance programs in 71 countries. Worldwide, 57,000 credit unions in 103 countries serve 208 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.