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Kenyan found his calling in Edwards

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado
Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyEdwards resident David Bulindah holds a photo Friday of some orphans who have lost parents to AIDS and who his organization, Christ Aid Kenya, sponsors in Kenya.
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EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” David Bulindah calls it a divine appointment that he ended up in the Vail Valley the summer of 2005.

He came to care for Edwards couple Ron and Lucy Davis, who were recovering from a plane crash, and left having started a program to help AIDS orphans in his native Kenya.

“(Ron Davis) asked me, what are you passionate about? That’s what you have to do. I said, ‘The people and children of Kenya and the hardships they’re going through,'” Bulindah said.

Davis helped Bulindah learn how to run a nonprofit, and helped him get the organization off the ground.

Now Bulindah, 36, is back in the valley to talk about how his nonprofit, Christ Aid Kenya, has grown and to thank the organization’s supporters.

Christ Aid Kenya, now based in Baltimore, teaches Kenyans AIDS/HIV prevention through music and drama and also connects American sponsors to children who have lost one or both parents to AIDS.

Sponsors “adopt” a child for $40 per month. The money provides a child with school books, clothes, food and care, and the sponsor and child communicate through letters.

Christ Aid Kenya’s latest program is raising money to plant 100,000 trees on Dec. 1, World AIDS Day. A dollar pays for a tree to commemorate the day and give Kenyans a memorial for lost family members.

Bulindah also has plans for an HIV/AIDS testing and education center. He said he hopes to break ground on the project next summer, he said.

Approximately 700 people die in Kenya each day from AIDS, and most of those victims are people ages 15 to 50, the most sexually active age group, he said.

Many children end up caring for younger brothers and sisters, or surviving relatives will take in orphaned children. With so many mouths to feed, many children end up begging on the streets or in prostitution, he said.

Bulindah, who was born in Nakuru, Kenya, is no stranger to the effects the disease has had on the country. His sister and several relatives have died from AIDS.

The fact that he has survived, healthy and successful, means he should give back to his country, he said.

“I was born in a very poor family,” he said. “Most of the time we had no food. Lunch was a walk home from school, a sip of water, and that was it.”

A Catholic priest funded his high school education and others helped him get a college degree and start a business, eventually allowing him to come to the United States about 10 years ago.

“All my life has been through other people’s blessings. God has really blessed me. If it weren’t for God, I wouldn’t be here,” he said.

The program is run and staffed by other native Kenyans, allowing them reach out in the most culturally effective ways, he said.

“As Kenyans, we can stand up and say ‘no.’ We’re the people called to do something. We have to do something,” he said.

While Bulindah and the organization are now based in Baltimore, some of their strongest supporters are still Vail valley residents.

Davis, chairman of the board of directors of Vail Valley Medical Center, has visited Kenya four times, both as a tourist and to do relief work. He fell in love with the country and wanted to be part of helping it’s people, he said.

“It’s a magical place. It’s at 5,000 feet elevation and on the equator, so the sun comes up at the same time everyday,” Davis said. “The people are just kind, loving and compassionate.”

Edwards residents Scott and Janie Cliver sponsor several children through the program. Janie Cliver said it’s rewarding to get appreciative letters from their adopted children, who call her “mom” and write “I love you.”

“You’re giving a kid a chance for life. You can give a kid hope who has no hope,” she said.

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.


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