February 17, 2011 at 8:22 a.m.
In a slide show program and talk about the nation of Kenya; there were photos of primitive housing, outdoor dishwashing barrels, a one-swingset playground, and people enjoying meals that pretty much consisted of potatoes or beans.
The orphanage where the Breakfast Club speaker volunteers in Kenya, didn't enjoy police protections and slides showed volunteers planting a perimeter of thorn bushes, to deter hoodlums who might steal the orphans' livestock, fuel or even clothes.
Brenda Birk was the presenter to 23 middle schoolers attending the February 10 edition of the middle school's community connections program called Breakfast Club.
Birk has been to Kenya in 2007, 2008 and in November 2010. She is involved in a charity called Lighthouse Ministries, based in Plymouth, MN that supports an orphanage housing 35 girls, ages 3 to 16 and a few staff. The school at the orphanage also additionally educates 15 "day scholars" who walk to the school from elsewhere.
Birk's Breakfast Club session took place in the Chisago Lakes School Board meeting room. The hour-long gatherings are featured once each month. The idea is to expose the students to topics ranging from unique occupations, to hobbies and travel. The students have juice or bottled water, a piece of fruit and a pastry while members of the local community come in to share life experiences.
Birk is already familiar with the middle school as she also volunteered for the middle school's mentoring program. This was her first opportunity to speak at Breakfast Club, she said.
Questions from the students were typically unassuming and personal:
Do the girls at the orphanage miss their mom and dad?
What do hyenas really sound like?
The club participants responded with interest when Birk explained that her son was the first to visit Africa and then convinced her that she should go.
If you'd be interested in scheduling a morning to talk about what you do, where you've been or any other topic that middle school age youngsters would be interested in, contact the middle school offices.
And, if you'd like to donate to the orphanage, they are building school desks right now, Birk would be pleased to take your call (she works at Wally Carlson & Sons in Lindstrom).
Or see www.lmiafrica.com. The mailing address is Lighthouse Ministries International 4208 Hemlock Lane, Plymouth, MN 55441.