Victoria's 40th Birthday!
There is no more perfect way to celebrate and honour Victoria Sheppard's biggest milestone birthday yet, her 40th, than by donating to her passion project - CMETrust! Donations can be made in the currency of your choice; Canadians and Americans who donate over $20 will receive an official tax receipt.
Victoria is one of the co-founders of CMETrust. Way back in 2005/6, while living in Nairobi working at the United Nations Environment Programme, Victoria volunteered once a week in Mathare Valley Slum, the second biggest informal settlement in Kenya. Over 600,000 people squeezed into 1 square kilometre, with zero government services available - no water, no sewage infrastructure, no electricity, no government schools. But it was not the shock and desperation associated with this degree of poverty that left the biggest mark on Victoria, instead it was the fortitude, resiliency and innovation of the people of Mathare that left the most powerful impression - it left Victoria with hope. So before leaving Kenya to join Canada's federal public service in Ottawa in September 2006, Victoria asked the Kenyans she had been volunteering with in Mathare how she could continue supporting their community development efforts from afar, and they replied: "education!" This is how CMETrust began, and since that day Victoria has dedicate enormous amounts of time and energy to this organization. Why? Because it works!
Since 2006, CMETrust has enabled nearly 80 scholars to graduate from high school in Kenya, and even three from Kenyan universities. There are current 62 CMETrust scholars enrolled in high school and 18 in post-secondary studies. CMETrust provides personal and professional development workshops and training in Mathare during the scholars' three school-breaks each year, as well as three months of additional computer training to all of CMETrust's high school graduates. CMETrust partners with other grassroots organizations operating in Nairobi, supports the CMETrust alumni association in organizing an annual walk-a-thon event and the Mathare in Focus photography project, and works closely with the CMETrust parents & guardians association. And, since 2006, nearly all of this has been made possible solely thanks to the generous donations of hard working individuals! Individual Canadians, Americans, others, who understand the value of education, who know that there can never be equity, peace and stability in this world without everyone having access to education, and who believe that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can indeed change the world (thank you, Margaret Mead). Thank you all for the incredible support over so many years, and especially for helping me reach my 40th Birthday goal!!!
To see Victoria and one of her fellow co-founders, Titus Kuria, talking about CMETrust's 10th anniversary on Kenyan TV, check out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ln03EAWdaQ (beginning at 0:41)