Photo By: Courtesy of Friends of Children Concern Foundation
Betsy Collard, back left, of Mountain View and KC Cannon, third from left, of Menlo Park visit staff members and children at the Children Concern Foundation, an orphanage in Tanzania. The two women, who founded a nonprofit organization to support the orphanage, have scheduled a fundraiser Saturday.
Africa may be thousands of miles from Silicon Valley, but two local residents are bringing it closer to home at “Passport to Tanzania,” the inaugural fundraiser for an orphanage on the road to the Serengeti region.
The benefit, scheduled 5-8 p.m. Saturday at Auto Vino, 205 Constitution Ave. in Menlo Park, will feature wine tasting, appetizers, desserts, silent and live auctions, African music and the opportunity to learn about the nonprofit Friends of Children Concern Foundation (CCF), dedicated to helping orphans in Tanzania. Auto Vino will offer guests a look at more than 50 vintage and exotic cars not usually on display to the public.
Mountain View resident Betsy Collard and KC Cannon of Menlo Park organized the event, which they said aims to provide guests with a view of a “very different world” and a chance to be part of a journey that can change the lives of children at the CCF orphanage.
In addition to Collard and Cannon, the event committee includes, among others, Jane Reed and Dorothy Rosenthal of Los Altos and Jan Carey and Lisa Lane Kasperzak of Mountain View.
Collard first visited the orphanage in 2011 when she traveled to Tanzania to celebrate a clinic opening for Maasai women and children and to go on a safari.
“We stopped at the home where 36 children, ages 4-16, lived in a small, cramped, rented house,” she said. “There was no electricity, no place for the children to play, and they slept two or three to a bed. I fell in love with the children. When I returned to the U.S., I vowed to do what I could to help these children.”
Collard approached Cannon, a longtime friend who also had a passion for Africa. Together, the women established the nonprofit organization committed to providing the children with a safe living environment, education, access to medical care and hope for a better future.
“The orphanage receives no government assistance and currently depends entirely on donations from tourists who stop on their way to a safari, just as we did,” Cannon said. “Often, especially during the heavy rainy season, there is not enough money for food.”
By Tanzanian law, orphans are not allowed to be adopted and are only allowed to live with family members willing to care for them.
Collard and Cannon have made several trips to Tanzania to visit the children and help the staff. Friends of CCF has raised funds to support the facility’s operational costs and enabled the purchase of a few acres of land for a permanent home.
Tanzanian vocalist and songwriter Erica Lulakwa, a drummer and other musicians will perform at “Passport to Tanzania.” Auction items will include an African safari and other trips, artwork, wine and gift certificates for local restaurants. Guests will have an opportunity to support the orphanage by participating in the Make-A-Difference Appeal.
Tickets are $95 per person, with a portion tax deductible.