I first stumbled across OrphFund at the Trove Market in Bendigo late in 2016. I had been looking for an organisation to support through the sale of Seriously Milestones Greeting Cards, when I started talking to Steve, OrphFund’s CEO.
I was instantly excited, it was so obvious that Steve was not only deeply passionate about creating change, but had also been making real progress in Africa through his work.
Given OrphFund is run 100% by volunteers, it took us a while to get together and chat more, but eventually Seriously Milestones started sponsoring a child and we have continued to share the story of this amazing organisation since.
Here are some of the things I have found out about Steve, and OrphFund –
Steve does not have a set wage, his income is via the photo blocks sold at Markets, from which he only takes 1/3 of the money from. This means that every single donation that you or I give to OrphFund, goes directly to supporting the kids. This is something Steve is really passionate about, after working with other Not For Profit agencies and seeing CEO’s take huge wages.
OrphFund currently houses 300 children in their villages in Kenya, Sierra Leone and Uganda.
A further 3,500 are supported by OrphFund, who provide them with access to Education, a vital part of breaking the cycle of poverty.
The biggest challenge OrphFund faces is getting volunteers to stay onboard. People come in with huge passion for the organisation, but most struggle to sustain it. Steve firmly believes that if people gave half of the energy they thought about giving to charity organisations, the world would be a much better place.
The other challenges that have been faced over the years, have been the passing of people within the villages. One was a child, Mary, a bright girl who had been in the village for a long time and she was really going places. She went to visit some family and became really sick, within 2 days, she was gone. It obviously has a huge impact on the village, but also affects all of the volunteers who have worked there over the years.
Orphfund has had lots of success though, the biggest one being the fact that they are able to still say they are 100% fuelled by volunteer power, after 12 years! This is absolutely amazing, and something that Steve doesn’t take lightly. There have been many times that he has wanted to stop, but it always comes back to the kids. We are only here once, and Steve wants to make sure he is having a positive impact on people’s lives.
Steve said this drive is even more so since becoming a dad (he has a 4 year old girl and newborn boy). He said when he puts his little girl to bed at night, it really reminds him that the kids in the villages previously had no one doing that for them.
The biggest way that we can help, is by sponsoring children or by purchasing OrphFund’s products at markets (they regularly attend Trove Bendigo, Moonlight Market, Rose St Artists Market, Castlemaine Artists Market and Heide Maker's Market). You can also purchase any of our greeting cards and help support our sponsor child, Rabecca (above).
When the team last went overseas in May, they took on an extra 22 children that they really couldn’t afford to, but their situations meant that they needed to. In addition to this, OrphFund only asks sponsors for $30 a month, when in reality, it takes closer to $50 to support a child for that period of time.
The more work OrphFund does, the higher their profile becomes, and the more kids come looking for support. It’s a really hard cycle but one that they’ll keep working on, trying to make any changes as sustainable as possible so once the kids leave their care, they continue on a positive journey.
If you’d like to find out more about OrphFund’s journey, we’d love for you to come along to their Photography Exhibition in Bendigo in a few weeks. Tickets are only $25 and include food and a drink. And thanks to the support of sponsors, 100% of the money from ticket sales is going to the organisation.