Born with a rare liver disease, 17-year-old Kendall Ciesemier faces daily challenges. After undergoing two liver transplants and frequent hospital visits, it is her dedication to the children of Africa that helps Kendall keep her own trials in perspective. After founding a non-profit organization in 2004 and raising nearly $1 million to help AIDS orphans in Africa, this June, Kendall’s dream of visiting those she helps has now become a reality. She just returned from her first trip to Africa.
Where it all began: In 2003, despite her personal struggles, Kendall used her own savings to sponsor one child for a year through World Vision, an international relief organization. After realizing that kids too have the ability to help those in need around the world, Kendall developed the nonprofit organization Kids Caring 4 Kids (KC4K), dedicated to encouraging America’s youth to make a difference in the lives of AIDS orphans. Now, over 80% of the way toward her $1 million fundraising goal, Kendall returns home from Zambia and South Africa where she witnessed KC4K’s positive impact on the lives of children who have lost their parents to AIDS.
The Journey: During her two-week-long trip to Africa, Ciesemier visited four projects supported by KC4K as well as attended a World Cup soccer game. The developments she visited include: the Kerus Orphan Care Center which provides orphans with daily meals, homework help and healthcare; a World Bicycle Relief bicycle distribution that ensures children will be able to get to school; a World Vision water well and hygiene project; and a Lifesong for Orphans residential school for orphans which KC4K supports with health care. During her stay, Kendall also visited the little girl in southern Zambia that her family personally sponsors through World Vision. On her final days abroad, Ciesemier played soccer with Zambian children who have benefited from the bicycle distribution and soon after, she was able to attend the U.S./Algeria World Cup game in Pretoria, South Africa.
“The children of Zambia really do have the same dreams that the children of America have,” says Kendall. “This is the generation of change in Africa. Their parents are gone but they have a bright future.”