By: Duane Blankenship | Category: Special Interest | Issue: May 2013
Kairos 10 Founders Katheryn Pennington and Phyllis Morris meet with Kairos beaders.
Kairos 10 was founded in 2010 as a result of medical mission trips and a desire to treat children with malaria. Founders of the organization are Dr. David and Phyllis Morris and Charles and Katheryn Pennington, all of Tulsa. “Malaria kills one in six children in Africa and is preventable with a mosquito net,” said Katheryn. The highest death rates occur in children under the age of five and pregnant women. Each net costs $12 in U.S. currency. The nets are purchased from and shipped by His Nets, a not-for-profit, located in Norman, Oklahoma.
Kairos employs a team of Ghanaian women who make beautiful handcrafted bracelets and other jewelry with beads purchased from local merchants representing native regions. Beads are produced from recycled glass, vinyl records, fish bones and brass. “Kairos pays beaders four times the average daily wage,” said Katheryn, “a sustainable income that enables our beaders to provide for their families while helping eliminate malaria and the often resulting death caused by a mosquito bite.” Kairos also has a line of handmade shawls and purses.
Behind the driving force of Katheryn and Phyllis, entire communities are aided. Since its beginnings in 2010, Kairos has directed the shipping of nets to four countries – Ghana, Kenya, Zimbabwe and India – and has sold more than 18,000 pieces of jewelry. For every item sold, Kairos is able to purchase one insecticide-treated mosquito net, which will cover four or more sleeping children and family members. To date, 15,000 nets have been distributed to villages by a partnering Ghana church. The head of the church knows which villages need nets and gets them promptly delivered upon their arrival. “If we can cover 75 percent of the huts within a village,” said Phyllis, “we are able to eradicate 95 percent of the malaria-carrying insects.”
According to the World Health Organization, there were an estimated 219 million cases of malaria in 2010 and a resulting 660,000 deaths. Most deaths occur among children living in Africa, where a child dies every minute from malaria. Malaria is caused by a parasite that is spread to people through the bites of infected anopheles mosquitoes. They bite mainly between dusk and dawn, which is why it is so critical that children be covered by netting when they sleep. Ninety percent of the world’s malaria deaths are in Africa. There are currently no licensed vaccines against it or any other human parasite.
Four fifth-grade classes in Jenks focused their efforts on Ghana villages where malaria was an epidemic and determined they wanted to help fund the purchase of mosquito nets. The students raised enough money to “net a village.” They also purchased soccer balls to donate to a Ghanaian school. They designed a T-shirt to promote the project, “Fight the Bite – Net a Village, Save a Life.” These students saw firsthand how their efforts could impact a child’s life on the other side of the world.
Life-saving Kairos bracelets from Ghana are available in Tulsa at Donna’s Fashions and Pizzazzy Monograms, Liv a Little Boutique in Jenks, The Village Shop in Pryor, and Crossing Bookstore in Oklahoma City. All U.S. participants (excluding retail locations) are volunteers, and no person is compensated for their time or talents. To date, there are 60 Kairos volunteers across the country who sell the products. They receive no compensation for their efforts except the satisfaction of knowing they are saving the lives of children with each item sold. Kairos’ proceeds provide malaria-eradicating mosquito nets plus funding for digging water wells, building pole barns for schools, and providing the drug, Coartem, to treat those contracting malaria.
Please call (918) 695-6949 or visit www.kairos10.com for more information on how you can purchase bracelets, become a volunteer, and help save the lives of African children.
Blankenship graduated from the University of Oklahoma and has enjoyed a lifetime career in advertising. He started his own advertising business in 1993 and enjoys creating graphic art and writing. Hobbies include hunting, fishing and pencil drawings. Duane and his wife, Janice, have been married over 50 years and are active in their church and community. He has been a contributing writer for Value News/Values Magazine since 2005.