Lake Wylie boat cruise to help Kenyan orphans

Published online: Oct 18, 2010 News John Marks -
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With economic conditions what they are, Monique Boekhout doesn't want to ask already sacrificing supporters of Kenyan orphans for more money. But she's fine with asking the Lake Wylie community if it wants to take a boat ride.

Boekhout, who started the Lake Wylie-based Kenya Orphanage Project in 2002, is having a fundraising cruise on Lake Wylie on Sunday. Up to 100 people are invited to board pontoon boats and cruise the lake in what Boekhout calls "the first official cruise to ever take place on Lake Wylie." The cruise, Boekhout hopes, will be the first among several upcoming fundraising opportunities.

Bobbie Otto, a neighbor of Boekhout's, said she's constantly hearing about the work of Kenya Orphanage Project. She decided to volunteer her pontoon boat as one of 12 to be used for Sunday's cruise.

"It's not the African Queen, but you can pretend it is," Otto said.

Otto hopes the idea sticks, and that the community supports it. She also hopes the guests Sunday have fun while giving.

"It's really a nice idea for a fundraiser," Otto said. "It's a little bit different from what you normally see, and hopefully we'll be able to raise a good bit of money for what she's doing."

Boekhout also hopes to host a major fundraising event next year locally, possibly over two days.

About the project

"The organization as a whole is doing well," she said. "Kenya Orphanage Project has rebounded nicely from the troubles we went through in 2009."

Kenya Orphanage Project began as an organization supporting Jubilee Children's Center, a home for more than 100 Kenyan orphans. But in 2009, the groups split over "how to use funding, and on how to report on money received and money spent," Boekhout said. "Transparency was always our requirement and that was not being accomplished."

Many of the Jubilee children either left the center or are waiting to relocate following the split. Kenya Orphanage Project now supports about 25 children, mostly in high school, by providing them sending them to seven boarding schools. Another 20 children are waiting to be relocated.

"Education for boarding schools is more expensive than what we used to pay for the orphanage," Boekhout said. "We are still in the business of helping children."

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