In 2004, licensed realtor Leslee Greenaway, ’78 BSc, ’89 MSc, made an impulsive decision that would change her life forever. Needing a break from her routine, Leslee picked up the phone and booked herself on a three-week African safari, something she had wanted to do since childhood. The package tour took her around Kenya and Tanzania, and, although it was exciting staying in five-star hotels, “the contrast to the way average people were living was shameful,” she says.
During her travel she developed a great admiration for the people of Kenya, who showed hope and passion despite insurmountable daily hardships. When Leslee returned to Canada, she knew she wanted to do something to make a difference in the lives of the people she had met. The solution to improving their lives, she believed, had to begin at the village level — one village at a time. And so the Alberta-based non-profit organization Save-a-Village was born.
The mission of Save-a-Village is to provide clean water, proper nutrition, education and medical care to the poverty-stricken orphans, widows, grandmothers and families in Kenya’s rural Nyanza Province. Helping villages to become self-sustainable is the ultimate goal. So far, Save-a-Village has helped the village of Omondi by building a school, a medical clinic, a community hall, a rainwater harvesting system, and bio-sand filters for access to clean drinking water. Leslee has also worked to improve the village’s agricultural yields, introduced adult literacy classes, and helped install two playgrounds, which provide recreation for 500 children. “It’s amazing what can be done with a little effort,” she says. “The rewards” — both for the village and for her personally — “are indescribable.”
Leslee’s plan for the future is to turn her attention to a second village, where she will continue training locals on issues of health, nutrition, sanitation, agriculture, teaching and entrepreneurship.