NEED magazine feature continued
“It’s a catch-22; you don’t have money,
but people want to see what you have done.”
After forming the non-profit organization and solidifying his vision for how to best help Rabondo, Timon was then left to raise funds for all the projects. He first approached social service clubs, churches and small businesses in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota for donations. To supplement, he also made cold-calls to individuals in the area explaining who he was and what he wanted to do in Rabondo. “It looked huge; people thought I would need $500,000,” he said. “If I had $100,000 to start, I could work miracles.” Timon met reluctance in the initial donation process because everyone wanted to see something already completed, “It’s a catch-22; you don’t have money, but people want to see what you have done.” The small donations that he did receive were immediately put toward the construction of a primary school because it would serve as a catalyst and be something to show potential donors. In 1999 the primary school was completed, leaving Timon to continue fundraising for the provision of uniforms, desks, a food program and for the construction of a secondary school, health clinic and science laboratory.
© 2007 NEED Communications
Moses Ojwang, the nurse in Rabondo who serves more than 8,000 people a year, consults patients from his closet-sized office as Joshua Ongili, a volunteer, administers a shot. There is no doctor in rabondo.
The community continues to be abuzz with excitement surrounding the recent and pending constructions.Committees focusing on education, health care, water and electricity were organized in Rabondo to monitor the progress of and discuss ideas about certain changes in the area. The committees helped the people become involved and fostered a community-wide sense of ownership. According to Timon, the work of The Project and the ownership of their future that the community now possessed, changed them for the better. “The character of the community has changed; people feel proud to be from Rabondo,” Timon said. This is an obvious improvement from the hopelessness that once engulfed the village.

© 2007 NEED Communications
Queen Agade gravely ill and pregnant, waits to be treated after stumbling into Ojwang’s office.

“The character of the community has changed; people feel proud to be from Rabondo.”

Timon remains positive but he still knows there is more to be done. To date The Project has completed the construction of a primary and secondary school as well as a dining hall. The construction of a kitchen, health clinic, science laboratory and teachers’ housing has been started. In partnership with Lifewater International, Rabondo has attempted to drill a well for clean water. While some students have desks to sit in and uniforms to wear, many more are still needed. Timon would also like to raise enough money to build a dormitory to give the many orphans of the area a safe place to sleep, shower and focus on their studies.

The excellent academic performance of the students has really proven the motivation that exists in Rabondo. After all, Timon did not force these children to come to school; they wanted to be there. This year, for the first time in Rabondo’s history, 41 secondary school students sat for the national exam given to all Kenyan students that is a requisite for secondary school graduation. Of those 41, there are at least seven students who are applying to a university or college in the future. Considering that these students are competing with others from Kenya who attend private schools, have tutors, running water, enough to eat, electricity and parents caring for them, Rabondo has really progressed.
© 2007 NEED Communications
Elsa Atieno Odoyo, the cook at St. Timon’s secondary school, breaks apart collard greens in the kitchen to make skuma wiki, a traditional Kenyan dish, for the students’ lunch.
The school system provides equal access to education for any student who wants to attend. Regardless of gender, ability or disability, all children can attend school. If they do not have enough money to pay for school fees or uniforms, The Project takes care of it for them by setting up scholarship funds. The Project also has increasingly encouraged girls to attend school, even though historically many adults in the community have not seen the value of a girl’s education.

While still guided by a vision of education, The Project is switching its focus from strictly school provisions to an effort focusing on human beings. The implementation of a food program, for example, and the construction of a health clinic and student dormitory are all efforts to help support students.

Though Timon has acted alone throughout The Project’s history, he makes a point to mention all the help he has received along the way. He reminisces about friends who helped him fill out paperwork when petitioning for non-profit status for The Project. He also recounts working with a young student from Minnesota who helped him with tasks that his failing eyesight had made difficult.
“When the children have a little clean water, one meal a day and a place to go after school, then we have succeeded.”
By typing and reading letters for Timon, this young girl (who is now a graduate of Stanford University) indirectly helped provide education and hope for Rabondo. There are many people who have helped Timon in small ways. No monetary donation ever went unnoticed, however large or small. Similarly, no donation of one’s voluntary time ever went without a thank you. While Timon has been the catalyst for change, he acknowledges that without help from others along the way, Rabondo would probably not be the place it is today—hopeful, vibrant and educated.
© 2007 NEED Communications
A young girl with a severe case of malaria waits for her mother to come home.
© 2007 NEED Communications
Elisha Owuor, caretaker and guard of Rabondo’s first well, and Kenedy Osura, a water technician on the water committee, take turns flushing out the well to rid it of termites. This took two days.

When asked what the legacy of his story is, Timon reacts modestly. He’s proud of the accomplishments that The Project has made so far, but he does not measure success through buildings and books. Instead he would be satisfied to see that all the children in Rabondo are taken care of, if only in small ways. “When the children have a little clean water, one meal a day and a place to go after school, then we have succeeded,” he said. Many setbacks and problems still face Rabondo despite all of Timon’s efforts; however, he is confident that The Project’s successes will have longevity because the citizens are empowered. “People [in Rabondo] feel good; they have life in their face” he says. “There were days that they felt they had no future; it’s a big change in their outlook.” Possessing the ever-so-envied virtue of patience, Timon remarks at how he never felt rushed to get what he needed. He always felt that positive events would transpire if he worked hard enough to achieve them. “I don’t give up easily and I was determined. If you are determined, nothing is impossible.”

“I don’t give up easily and I was determined. If you are determined, nothing is impossible.”

Rabondo Community Project USA
PO Box 27954
Minneapolis, MN 55427 USA
763.545.2828
info@rabondocommunity.org
www.rabondocommunity.org
© 2007 NEED Communications
Timon Bondo on a recent visit to Kenya.
for more of Candice Towell's images from Rabondo visit: www.ctowellphotos.com/rabondo_gallery.html

For more about NEED magazine visit: www.needmagazine.com
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