Carmel Valley resident’s foundation helps children orphaned by AIDS in Zambia
By Karen Billing
For the past five years, Carmel Valley resident Bevin Dunn has been doing her part to help children orphaned by AIDS in Lusaka, Zambia. Through her nonprofit Temwani Children’s Foundation, she has helped provide direct assistance to children and this year they were even able to open a school.
“AIDS has been devastating to their country,” Dunn said, noting the unbelievable statistics that there are one million AIDS orphans in Zambia and 50 percent of the population is 15 years old and younger.
Dunn, a graphic artist, is using her artistic skills to help further her cause. She has created a calendar of beautiful photographs that people can purchase to help her pay for her trip to Zambia in the spring of 2011. The calendar artwork, from lovely florals to a vintage-style Torrey Pine, can also be purchased as prints at her website: www.digitalginger.com
Temwani was founded a bit by chance. Through a friend who had adopted two Zambian children, Dunn learned about a woman named Angela Malik in Zambia, who had started a pre-school for orphans. Dunn discovered that Malik’s dream was to build a primary school for the children because once they aged out of pre-school, there was nowhere for them to go to continue their education.
Malik’s dream became the origin of Temwani Children’s Foundation, the word Temwani meaning “love.” Temwani was founded five years ago by Dunn and her Kalamazoo College (located in Michigan) friends
Leah Berger and Regan Murray. Three other women are on the board and all six women are spread throughout the country—in San Diego, Cincinnati, Des Moines and Flagstaff, Ariz.
“It’s been a learning process, how to run a nonprofit and we’re still learning,” said Dunn, who serves as the technology coordinator. “We feel we’ve been very successful.”
While the nonprofit funds many programs in Zambia, the biggest project was the primary school. Dunn and Temwani were thrilled that they were able to open three classrooms of the PaKachele Primary School this year. The new principal, Fabian Kasande, remarked on how hard the children’s lives are at home, most of them have been through the tremendous trauma of losing their parents to AIDS, sometimes siblings as well. At school, they get an education and two meals a day, and for some of them that is all the food they get all day.
“He (the principal) said, ‘If they cannot find peace at home, let them come and find peace at school,’” Dunn said. “That’s really what the school is all about. They’re getting attention and they’re getting love.”
The goal is for the school to have seven classrooms, as well as a library, dining hall and bathrooms. It will take about $150,000 to complete.
Dunn has lived in Carmel Valley for three years with her husband, who has a Ph.D. in neuroscience. The couple moved from Tucson, Ariz., where Dunn had a job as a multi-media developer. She went out on her own with digitalGinger as a freelance graphic artist to have more flexibility to work with Temwani and find time to get to Zambia.
Dunn was first able to go to Zambia in 2009, anxious to see if all the work she had been putting in had made a difference. She came bearing toiletries and clothing, meeting the students and meeting Angela Malik for the first time.
“I was really excited about what we were doing there, but I was also sad because I wanted to do so much more,” Dunn said.
Dunn also visited Little Assissi, a school for children with physical and mental disabilities that Temwani also supports. They hope to provide specialized training for teachers and tools to make it easier for children who are deaf and blind to communicate and learn—some of the deaf students do not know sign language.
Upon her 2011 return, she’ll be able to see Angela’s school up and running.
“To see the school fully built with the kids in it will be amazing,” Dunn said. “We’ll get to learn more about the children, see where they live and understand their lives. It’s one of the more important things we can do,”
Dunn’s calendar fundraiser is also raising money for a laptop computer and training for a young Zambian girl to become a Temwani intern.
“Personally, I’d like to help her get to college,” Dunn said.
At digitalginger.com, people can purchase Dunn’s calendar for $26. Those interested can also opt to make a direct donation to Temwani Children’s Foundation at www.temwani.org.