‘Help Kenya, Not Kanye’ campaign for charity popularized in Canada

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An Edmonton-based charity devoted to providing support to orphans affected by HIV/AIDS is an inadvertent beneficiary of an online campaign to “Help Kenya, not Kanye.”

After seeing tweets from singer Kanye West asking for help paying a $53-million debt, an online crowdfunding campaign was launched to encourage consumers to re-direct spending away from Kanye West-related merchandise to charities that benefit people in Kenya.

The campaign highlights the cost of Kanye merchandise, comparing it to the cost of various charitable initiatives helping to provide the impoverished people in Kenya with necessities such as food, water and homes.

One of the initiatives listed on the website is One Child’s Village, a charity based out of Edmonton.

Todd Lorentz, managing director of One Child’s Village, said that he was unaware that the charity was being featured on the website until he received an email last week requesting information about the organization.

“I thought it was a spam email at first, and did some research after that, and soon we found out we were part of the campaign Help Kenya, Not Kanye,” Lorentz said in an interview on CTV’s Canada AM on Wednesday.

On the Help Kenya Not Kanye website, consumers are encouraged to donate to One Child’s Village under a “Famine > Fashion” headline.

“Kanye recently released the new collection for his Yeezus clothing line,” the website states. “Prices are not out yet, but previous sweatshirts have listed at $700. For $700, you can feed an entire school of 200 malnourished Kenyan orphans and their 10 teachers for a month.”

One Child’s Village is a small, volunteer-based operation, so any word-of-mouth publicity is a huge opportunity, Lorentz said.

The charity has very little by way of overhead costs, which means most of the donor dollars can go directly to the project.

“So it’s really effective but then we also don’t have big marketing budgets and we don’t have a lot of resources,” Lorentz said, adding support from the public is very important.

“We have the capacity to really take money that comes in in the morning and translate it into food by the evening in Kenya, and be feeding our orphans,” Lorentz said. “So we can move very quickly, we’re very flexible and it’s something that the public can really get behind.”

Lorentz said, since the launch of “Help Kenya, Not Kanye,” more donations have just “started to trickle in.”

“The campaign is early still but the media has done a lot to really bring this item to the public’s awareness so we’re really hoping that the public will jump on board with this, and help out the kids in Africa,” Lorentz said.

Other charities that benefit from a donation to Help Kenya Not Kanye include UNICEF, the African Wildlife Foundation and Habitat For Humanity Kenya.