Spreading Good Fortune Across the Sea
The Neighborhood of Good extends beyond our borders
Sunlight seeps through the rusted tin-ceiling. You walk out the door to find chickens and other animals racing down the street. Waving goodbye to your family, you head towards school where fresh toast, warm scrambled eggs and cooled milk await you.
These simple pleasures were once foreign for children living in Mombasa, Kenya. Now they are the norm for many thanks to the Mombasa Relief Initiative (MRI). The MRI is a non-profit that provides both aid and resources to Mombasan children.
The Beginning of the MRI
Michael Pattrick first visited the Bombululu Village in Mombasa in 2001, while in Kenya to visit a friend. What he saw inspired the Chicago State Farm Agent and MRI president/co-founder.
“It was lunchtime and there were tons of kids around without any food. We asked how much it would cost to feed everyone and learned it was about $200,” Pattrick remembers. “My friends and I pooled our money and gave it to the headmaster. The next day everyone ate lunch.”
Many Kenyan schools at the time did not qualify for public school status. This meant they received little to no funding and could not afford to help feed the children.
Pattrick later learned many people in Bombululu Village had physical or mental disabilities. They also lacked basic necessities. With these bigger issues to address, there was little to no emphasis on education.
What he saw made an impression and he wanted to help. Pattrick started MRI in 2001, with his brothers from Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated. Today the MRI goes beyond that initial mission to provide meals.
The MRI Today
The organization now sponsors programs in six schools and helps more than 350 children in the Kenyan city. In addition to meals, it promotes better education, self-sufficiency, health and economic enrichment.
One example of a program that embodies the MRI mission is its “Eggs for Empowerment” initiative. Children learn healthy eating and nutrition, proper ways to care for chickens and cows, and how to be self-sustaining by selling eggs and milk.
Some MRI supporters choose to expand their impact by sponsoring individual children. Twice-yearly visits keep members connected to those they are helping.
Pattrick himself has sponsored a young woman named Mariam for several years. He has covered expenses ranging from school fees and supplies, to important medical procedures and university tuition. It has paid off. In 2016, Mariam graduated with a degree in Accounting from Kenyatta University.
“I knew from the beginning Mariam was a humble person,” says Pattrick. “When Mariam was nine she called me her second father. I was so honored. I am very proud of the choices she has made, her respect for her parents, and the type of role model she has become for her siblings.”
“My philosophy is that if a person has many good fortunes in their life, they should help others,” says Pattrick.
Corporate Responsibility Analyst (IL)
Public Affairs Intern