Orphans Group Helps Kids One Little Drop at a Time
Charles Duze decided that he didn’t want to wait to make it big before achieving his goal of helping others. He and some colleagues started LittleDrops, which helps some of the world’s most vulnerable children dollar by dollar.
By Jennifer Warnick
Charles Duze always had a plan to help others just as soon as he made it big. Then one day several years ago, he realized that by waiting to “strike gold,” he’d been taking the wrong approach. “I was like, ‘Wait a minute, I am not rich. But I don’t have to strike it big to make a difference. Little drops here and there can make a huge difference,’” said Duze, a software tester for the Outlook group.
Shortly after that, Duze and a few other Microsoft colleagues and friends created a nonprofit organization to help support orphanages. They named it LittleDrops. “The name came from that concept—that a little bit here and there in the long term can make a difference,” Duze said. “We don’t have to wait.”
Duze and his friends brainstormed about how their organization would work and spent most of 2005 shaping it and learning the ins and outs of nonprofit regulations. They decided that LittleDrops would try to provide orphans and vulnerable children with support in their formative years, including food, clothing, and education, which would in turn improve their chances of a successful future.
They sought out already-established orphanages in rural areas, with the goal of supporting and monitoring the children until they reach adulthood. “Even though we can’t save the world and fix everything that’s wrong, we can do very little bits here and there to really make a difference,” Duze said.
LittleDrops had its first fund-raiser in 2006 and, with the money it raised, was able to give support to six homes for orphans in Nigeria. The next year, the organization was part of Microsoft’s Giving Campaign and was able to support seven more homes in Kenya. LittleDrops is now looking to help orphanages in Cameroon, Ghana, Rwanda, and Uganda.
LittleDrops is currently 100 percent run by volunteers and “elbow grease,” Duze said. The group meets once a month to discuss fund-raising, operations, ways to seek donors, and ways to get information out. There’s a high burnout factor, but a high reward factor as well.
“A popular quote says great things start from small beginnings. LittleDrops Orphanage Fund has, over the last three years, made great strides in its mission to provide for orphans and give them a good chance at a successful future,” said Ike Ekeh, a systems engineer for Windows Live and LittleDrops volunteer. “Every contribution to LittleDrops goes a long way to help achieve this goal and put smiles in the lives of orphans. No matter how small a donation, it can make a significant impact in supplying materials like mosquito nets, paying for school, medical care, and food.”
The end result, they hope, will not only be helping the children but letting them know they are not abandoned or alone. The organization’s “little drops” so far have included paying for school tuition, providing bicycles for children who commute to school, repairing beds and purchasing new beds and bedding, buying school supplies, helping with medical bills, and providing food and supplies for the orphanages to raise and grow their own food.
Ekeh, who decided to volunteer for LittleDrops after attending one of its fund-raisers, said it is different from other orphanage charities because the organization reaches out to orphanage homes in rural areas that really have little to no assistance from other organizations or governments. “We also do a lot of on-the-ground research to find homes. There is so much I have learned in such a short time as a volunteer,” Ekeh said. “I have learned that nothing is impossible if there is a will and people put their minds to a cause. A lot of orphans around the world need help to have a bright future.”
Ekeh has traveled to Africa to visit one of the homes the organization had helped. He saw firsthand the issues orphanages there are facing, including little to no education for the children, medically vulnerable children, orphans with HIV who are isolated from the other orphans, orphans dressed in tattered clothes, and single parents pleading for help from orphanages.
Duze said dollar by dollar, the group has been able to make a difference. “Even though economic times are bad, many people would give anything to come here and have the ‘bad’ economic situation we’re having,” Duze said. “We have a responsibility to do at least a little bit to make the world a better place. It’s almost criminal to have so much and to not give just a little bit. We don’t have to give everything we have, and we don’t have to fix everything, but we do have to do a little bit.”
Learn more about on LittleDrops, including how to contribute or volunteer.
Visit LittleDrops on Facebook.
Watch a video about the efforts of LittleDrops in Kenya last year.
See some pictures of the orphanages supported by LittleDrops.