Written by KEN HAMWEY, Contributing Creator
Bellingham and Tanzania are linked – in a wonderful, loving and caring approach.
An orphanage run by Jay Rowe from Bellingham within the small city of Moshi within the East African border state with Kenya takes care of 25 kids aged 3 to 9 years. The ability often called COKO (Youngsters of Kilimanjaro Orphanage) opened on March 15, 2020, simply because the COVID-19 pandemic started.
“I believed we might be in hassle in any case our work and planning,” mentioned Rowe, who graduated from Bellingham Excessive in 1982, “however with the beneficiant assist of many individuals, the orphanage has survived.”
(Pictured above: Jay Rowe with Elizabeth, a COKO resident.)
Generosity is a robust high quality, and 58-year-old Rowe embodies it. He’s about educating kids the easy issues in life that he loved as a teen. His dad and mom (Dina, 92, and Chuck, 90) apparently emphasised the advantages of giving and serving to.
“If you see 25 youngsters pleased and protected, going to highschool, taking part in video games, having clear garments and linens, and figuring out that they’re beloved, it is an ideal feeling,” mentioned Rowe. “These kids by no means had something. They simply wish to smile, hug, and be pleased. You get the issues I had rising up – a protected atmosphere and love. Each youngster deserves that. They gave me greater than I gave them. “
A lot of the kids at COKO haven’t any dad and mom; some beforehand lived with grandparents who may now not take care of them. All of them come from villages round Moshi and are all chosen as wanted by Rowe and co-founder Babu Msuya.
The COKO mission assertion underscores Rowe’s emotions. It says: “To provide kids entry to highschool, medical care and church providers in a clear, protected and loving atmosphere.”
Have a look at Rowe’s background and see how exceptional his endeavor is. Earlier than graduating from highschool, he started primary coaching with the US Military. After 4 years within the Military Reserves, he entered the Marines for 3 years of energetic service, ending up as a Lance Corporal. He returned to civilian life and began a bricklaying enterprise (Jay Rowe Masonry) in Bellingham in 1992. He was married, divorced and has no kids.
Sadly, Rowe was recognized with esophageal most cancers in 2016, had seven surgical procedures (one to take away his esophagus and the higher a part of his abdomen), and has been coping with the illness for 5 years. “The most cancers is now in remission, but it surely left me with a everlasting feeding tube,” he mentioned. “However I’m nonetheless energetic, work and stay an ideal life.”
Rowe’s need to begin an orphanage started together with his love for mountaineering, backpacking, and mountaineering. He at all times wished to climb Kilimanjaro, and he did so in January 2011. “That was my highest ascent on the time,” he says. “It was 19,341 ft, however my biggest effort was in Nepal in 2013 once I climbed 20,305 ft to the highest of Island Peak within the Himalayas.”
Whereas he was in East Africa to climb Kilimanjaro, he helped orphanages in Kenya and Tanzania. He noticed up shut that cash donated to orphanages wouldn’t assist kids.
“Funds to assist kids simply did not get by,” Rowe mentioned. “There are good orphanages and there are dangerous ones, particularly in third world international locations. I discovered find out how to run an orphanage by serving to a number of of them in East Africa. On a lot of my visits to Tanzania, I’ve typically spoken about opening an orphanage with Babu, a former college trainer who has been my closest good friend there for 11 years. In 2019 we began searching for land and buildings; then we selected the Twiga Lodge in January 2020. “
The ability sits on one hectare of land and consists of three buildings – one for kids and workers, a second for volunteers, and the third as a kitchen. “Our full-time staff are seven,” mentioned Rowe. “We have now the superior, the headmistress, a safety officer, two assistant lecturers, a cook dinner and a cleaner. A big internal courtyard, the entrance of the orphanage and a close-by soccer area can be found for the kids to calm down.
It takes cash to maintain COKO going, cowl varied bills, and pay the month-to-month hire for the lodge, and Rowe and the opposite three board members are diligently engaged on their fundraising drives. Along with Rowe, who’s President, Co-Founder and Treasurer, the board consists of Amanda Campano from Blackstone (Director of Fundraising), Tim Marco from North Carolina (Director of Youngsters’s Actions) and Cathy Harnett from Wisconsin (Director of Donor Relations).
“With out donations, there can be no COKO,” mentioned Rowe. “We have now donors from Bellingham, throughout america, and elsewhere. A small quantity can go a great distance in Tanzania. A lot of the donation comes from Bellingham as a result of, as a co-founder of the orphanage, pals, residents and companies know me. Anybody who needs to donate can go to www.helpcoko.org. “
Rowe commends Bellingham’s Roger Dooley and is grateful for his dedication and excellence in designing and updating the COKO web site.
“Roger, the board members, and I are all shut pals,” mentioned Rowe. “In 2019 I organized a Jay’s Climb of Mount Kilimanjaro group to boost cash for the Oliva Fund (for most cancers remedy). Roger ran the web site for the group. Amanda took care of the fundraising for the ascent and Tim and Cathy went to Africa and climbed Kilimanjaro. Tim and I had been skydivers and I knew Cathy from the Marines. You and I had been on the identical practice. Workforce Jay’s Climb raised $ 42,000 for the Oliva Fund. “
Rowe and the COKO management group have brief and long run objectives. “Our main short-term objective is to purchase a bus,” mentioned Rowe. “We’re at the moment renting a bus to take the kids to highschool and church. Our long-term objective is to purchase the constructing and enhance the variety of kids within the facility. We have now area for an growth to 60. “
The expertise permits Rowe to simply monitor the day-to-day operations of the orphanage from Bellingham. “I communicate to Matron (Janeth) day-after-day,” he famous, “and I communicate to the workers virtually day-after-day. I’ve deliberate two journeys this 12 months to finish a number of tasks there. “
Based on Rowe, COKO will get good marks from the native authorities in Tanzania. They examine the ability, monitor operations, and see how the kids are getting on. “Among the youngsters are studying English, however I can speak to them as a result of I do know sufficient Swahili to speak,” he mentioned. “The youngsters know me and I’ve a lot enjoyable being with them.”
In his earlier years, Rowe was a skydiving teacher and in addition coached Pop Warner soccer and youth baseball in Uxbridge. He loved working with six- and seven-year-olds in t-ball lessons.
Nonetheless, beginning an orphanage, particularly in Tanzania, is one thing particular. It comes with numerous paperwork and strict laws.
“We utilized for and obtained 501C3 standing, which makes us a not-for-profit group with tax-exempt standing,” mentioned Rowe. “We follow all the principles. None of our youngsters are malnourished and none are ill-treated. The secret’s getting good folks into the workforce, and Babu and some others know find out how to recruit and maintain good folks. “
Good folks will little question present up for a fundraiser at Sportsman’s Membership on August eighth from 1pm to 6pm to assist COKO’s efforts. A $ 20 entry price covers meals and leisure.
“Beginning an orphanage is the most important factor I’ve finished in my life,” mentioned Rowe. “The youngsters are beloved by devoted workers and they’re all pals. It is a huge household. “
Rowe shouldn’t be distinctive on this endeavor; many individuals begin orphanages and he doesn’t crave commercials to assist himself. Jay Rowe is selfless, nevertheless. His giving nature is aware of no boundaries and no boundaries.