My rather amazing and activist brother David met Laban in Canberra some years ago. This story here is a genuine and heartfelt one, and if you'd like to get involved, there are links at the bottom of the page.
Here is the first letter from my brother :
Dear Family and Friends - make a difference this Xmas with a gift to help my friend Laban Baragu in Kenya.
Laban befriended us in Canberra a few years ago and has kept in contact over the years. He recently contacted me to ask for financial help - he now has a small family and is struggling to provide for them. I am committed to helping him in whatever way I can and ask that you support me.
For the last few years, he and his wife have operated a small shoe stall at the markets but are finding it very difficult to make a living above the poverty line. Laban had a micro-loan but was not making enough money from the shoe stall to pay it back - the bank took his furniture as payment.
Here is a recent email from Laban:
Hallo David, do you think the photos will serve the purpose? whats the progress. Sometime i have sleepless night i cry to myself coz am not able to provide for my son the proper meals, its a shame but i try my best. Sometime I go with a single meal per day to at least have something for the following day if i don't succeed. Thank you for taking your time to knowing what we are going thro' and trying to help us. Am praying to my God that everything falls into its place. With the tuk tuk my family will be able to overcome all the troubles, all i have to do is put more hour into the business and the rest will be history, i will be able to stand on my own and take care of my family.
Thank you once again and regards to your family.
Laban is now trying to change his life by buying a second-hand Tuk-Tuk (motor-bike taxi) - which he says will provide a greater income and allow him to move above the poverty line and provide for his family.
The challenge is in buying the Tuk-Tuk - he is no longer eligible for a micro-loan, and while Laban is adamant that he will pay back any money lent to him, a gift will remove so much pressure and allow him to focus on building the business, while still spending time with his wife and son Ryan. I am aiming for $3,000 which will allow him to purchase the Tuk Tuk outright and not owe anything.
So why not support Laban's Tuk Tuk Dream, either with a donation or a gift on behalf of someone else - a great present for those of us who have enough.
If you are interested, let me know how much you want to give and who you want to gift it from (name and address) - I will then make up a small card and send it to who you nominate by Christmas- stating that you have helped Laban and his family on their behalf. I will also provide updates on Laban's progress as I receive them.
Thank you for considering this call for help and please pass this email on to those who you think may be open.
Lots of love,
Last week David set up a small Cause on Facebook, and there are just a few of us there, doing what we can. He posted this a few days ago :
We've nearly reached half way - $1,355! And today with the help of extra loan funds, I have sent $1,700 to Laban so he can put down a deposit on a tuk tuk and start using it. He will then need to pay the remaining $1,300 within 9 months - but hopefully we can make that happen sooner.
I rang Laban today and told him that I had deposited the funds and that it was a gift from those who have contributed - he burst into tears. I could hear the utter relief in his voice. He was so thankful to everyone - "Words cannot express how I feel." he said in his soft, gentle voice.
We are certaintly making a difference - join us who have donated if you can, so we can complete this dream. Thank you all.
To help out, visit the Causes page on Facebook.
To contact David directly, send me an email and I'll pass it along.
What I really love about this is how directly and quickly we can make a difference. I support Medicin san Frontiers and Amnesty International, but somehow, contributing to Laban's Tuk Tuk Dream is so much more satisfying and rewarding. There are no middle men here, no administration costs, just direct action and direct help. And I'm in awe of my brother, who follows his words with action, rallies people around him, and passionately stands up for people and causes. I think you'll agree he's a pretty awesome guy.