Community

Local residents’ pop-up boutique to help Kenyans runs through Sunday

A fundraiser to help the people of Kenya that began 10 years ago in a Los Altos family’s living room has evolved into a pop-up boutique that runs through Sunday at the Town & Country Village Shopping Center in Palo Alto.

Caren McNelly McCormick, the founder of the nonprofit Kilgoris Project, has joined forces with her neighbor, Dr. Debra Matityahu, the founder of nonprofit Beyond Fistula, on the Marketplace boutique. The pop-up sells handcrafted pieces from Kenya – including jewelry, handwoven baskets and tote bags – with the profits earmarked for education and health care in Kenya.

“It’s a wonderful chance to show the impact of what donors have done. If I could take everyone on a plane to show the work I would,” McNelly McCormack said. “This is a good way to bring the work back to our local community.”

With assistance from husband Jon McCormack, she launched the Kilgoris Project in 2009. Teaming with local leaders and familes in Kilgoris, Kenya, the project helps operate 10 schools for primary and preschool students in rural Kenya.

Matityahu’s Beyond Fistula is a family effort to help Kenyan women heal and rebuild their lives after suffering the severe childbirth injury known as obstetric fistula. Encouraged by her daughter and co-founder Arielle, Matityahu has utilized her expertise as an OB-GYN physician to help provide post-fistula services to mothers in Kenya. Many of these women are disowned by their families for losing the child during birth, according to the doctor, and her nonprofit helps them get back on their feet.

Matityahu told the story of Mercy, a Kenyan woman who gave birth in a mud hut. After days of pushing, she was torn up inside and delivered a still baby. Her husband kicked her out of the house, leaving her homeless. After learning of her plight, Beyond Fistual admitted Mercy into care and vocational training to learn how to sew.

She now sends her two children to private schools, and Matityahu said that Mercy is most proud of being able to walk her children to the school bus knowing she can provide for them.

Matityahu and McNelly McCormick set the fundraising goal for this year’s Marketplace at $70,000 and said they are on track to reach that. Profits made from the storefront and in-store donations go directly to the programs. Those earmarked for Kilgoris Project will support teachers and meal programs, according to McNelly McCormick.

“My biggest thing is the impact that one person can have on changing the lives of other people,” Matityahu added. “Each of us has the ability to help at least one person, honestly for the price of a few cups of coffee.”

Marketplace hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Town & Country Village Shopping Center is located at 855 El Camino Real in Palo Alto. For more information or donate, visit kilgoris.org/donate and beyondfistula.org/donate/.

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