# Kindfund features in Belfast Newsletter
This article appeared in the Belfast Newsletter in April 2013, in the first of the paper’s ‘Faith Focus’ series.
In the first instalment of our new series Faith Focus, we meet two people involved in important work in the region of Northern Kenya – Ken and Pamela Dobbin from Kindfund.
“God has put a love in our hearts for this work” say Ken and Pamela Dobbin
For County Fermanagh man Ken Dobbin, running charity KINDFUND and helping impoverished children living in Africa feels like his “most important career” to date.
The 68-year-old who lived in Bangor for more than 30 years, but now based in Kesh with wife Pamela, set up the charity in 2004, after being approached by a pastor in Africa they had previously worked with, when the couple were involved with another Belfast-based charity.
“He had started a small nursery and wanted to do something for orphans, so we went out, visited him, and stayed in his mud hut with him for the best part of three weeks”, recalls Ken, who at that stage in his life was just approaching retirement.
Kindfund was thus born, and since then, it has grown to support around 1,500 people living in remote areas of the country through children’s homes – three have been established in the last nine years – schools, education and water projects.
It describes itself on its Facebook page as “a Christian Charity seeking to serve orphans and poor among the Turkana, Samburu and Rendille pastoralist tribes of Northern Kenya”.
Indeed, through these projects, its volunteers (none of whom are paid – all work is voluntary) are expressing God’s love and kindness amongst some of the most remote and poorest pastoralist tribes in this arid land.
Ken and Pamela both attend St Mary’s Church of Ireland, Ardess, Kesh, and by Ken’s own admission, have plenty of experience of “roughing it” during various camping trips across Europe with their three sons.
He says that when the opportunity arose to set up their own charity and get more heavily involved in missionary work, it represented to them a chance not to be missed.
“We felt we were confident enough to set the thing up and do it, and we felt we were put in a position where if we refused we would be denying what God wanted us to do,” he says. “It wasn’t so much that we heard a voice from Heaven or anything like that, just the circumstances seemed to be enabling us – the opportunity was there, and we felt the need was there and particularly Pamela’s heart was with the kids there.”
He says that a lot of missionary work is carried out in the bigger, urban areas of Kenya, but the remote districts are often “pretty neglected.”
Having put roots down, Kindfund began its work….
“We started off helping 60 kids, we said to the guy out there that we would feed them, get them porridge in the morning and get someone to teach them. We said that even if nobody helped us we could do this ourselves, it wasn’t going to cost us that much.”
“Then when we came home we got a big response from people – they organised events and money was raised, and we said we’d like to build them a proper nursery school, so when we went back out in September that year, we had raised half the money that was going towards the nursery school.”
Ken and Pamela identified builders and found a building that they would like their own to imitate, and on the day that they left in October 2004 work on the nursery had started. It was complete by that December.
“So by the end of the first year we had two classrooms, a kitchen, an office and a store in one big 90ft by 30ft building” says Ken. “We were just amazed at what was happening.”
From there, the work of the charity spiralled and more little children were helped, fed and educated, including youngsters who had HIV, and three ‘Rendille babies’ (the Rendilles are a tribe of people who live in the north of Kenya and have their own set of cultural and religious beliefs).
Today, Kindfund volunteers – who are based in the UK and Ireland – distribute five tonnes of food to the area every month and lift as much as £100,000 a year, all of which is sent out to their homes and schools.
Anyone travelling out to Kenya on behalf of the charity raises sponsorship and pays their own airfare; Ken alone is out about three times a year and Pamela, twice.
There is a sponsorship fund through which around 200 children are sponsored, and some of the sponsors have been out to see the kids. As Ken says, they know all the children they have helped personally.
The couple are doing and overseeing such wonderful work, but it is a labour of love.
“God has put a love in our hearts so we are doing what He wants us to do and it doesn’t seem like work” says Pamela.
“We are at home out there – we are without electricity, we are without air conditioning, all of those things, and you don’t miss anything because God has the love in our hearts for the place and it’s not work. You’re busy all the time but you are not thinking ‘Oh gosh I’ve got to work today’. No matter how busy and how tired you are, it’s a love.”
“I think it’s amazed us just what God does – we both are able to do things in the heat and remote areas, and I would say I give glory to God for that.”
FAITH FOCUS – Laura Murphy
18th April 2013