Bad news seems to be all we ever hear about – crime, evil deeds and illness permeate the news and occupy our daily conversations. People tend to forget, however, that there is a lot of good in the world, too. Volunteerism is alive and well in our community and across the world. Kairos 10, an organization that relies heavily on volunteers, celebrated its five year anniversary on October 1. The non-profit began when locals went on a medical mission trip to Africa, where it was common to see children with fevers in excess of 104 degrees due to malaria, a mosquito-born disease that kills one in six African children. The highest death rates occur in pregnant women and in children under 5.
The solution is straightforward – mosquito nets provide complete protection from this devastating disease. One net costs about $12. Founders of Kairos 10, in partnership with Ghanaian artisans, created the idea to sell jewelry as a way to help. Beads produced from recycled glass and vinyl records are purchased from local bead merchants. Kairos 10 pays Ghanaian women four times the average daily wage to produce the jewelry, and the result is a sustainable income for women in vulnerable areas. Proceeds from the jewelry sales are used to purchase mosquito nets and other essentials for African villages.
One special volunteer with the organization is Leah Horner. Leah has sold over 1,875 pieces of Kairos 10 jewelry and is responsible for netting 25 villages. It takes approximately 75 mosquito nets to net a village, and one net protects a mother and her three to four children. Leah has a rich background in volunteerism. She and her husband, Les, began volunteering at the Gatesway Foundation, a non-profit organization that serves adults with developmental disabilities, in 1986. Leah’s sister Nancy, who was mentally handicapped and has since passed away, was a resident at Gatesway. In 1994, Leah and Les founded the first Gatesway Hot Air Balloon Festival. The festival is held every year the third weekend in September and has remained a great fundraising success for the organization.
On her first mission trip to Africa in 2012, Leah had an incredible opportunity to honor her sister. Leah’s close friend, Jolene Urschel, had donated a fresh water well. This well was dedicated in memory of Leah’s sister Nancy and Jolene’s son, who had been killed in a car accident. “It was a very emotional day for me. We drove three or four hours into the middle of the bush where the well had been dug. There were balloons and dancers, and I tasted the first pump of water. It is so extraordinary to see your family’s name across the world on a well that will help so many people. What a blessing,” she says.
In January, Leah will return to Africa for her fourth mission trip to Ghana. The ten-day trip will include medical clinics, vacation Bible school, mosquito net distribution, medical assessments, and working with the Kairos 10 artisans in making and picking up the beautiful jewelry. “On the way there, our suitcases are filled with items to take, and on the way back they are filled with jewelry,” says Leah. “Going to Africa is truly a life-changing event. The people are so full of joy and praise God for everything they get. It is amazing and makes you want to do anything you can to help them.”
Leah is humble when asked about her volunteerism and outstanding jewelry sales. “The jewelry truly sells itself. It is beautiful, and when people hear the story, they want to be involved.”