Gabriel Grimsditch Linkedin
Nationality: British/Spanish (Barcelona)
Profession: Program Management Officer at UNEP Nairobi
Involvement: Child Sponsor, Supporting Teacher Salaries. Visited Hopsyg Kenya.
I first met Alan in Mombasa in 2008 and we became friends. He was volunteering with impoverished communities independently, and with VSO. He was helping those in less fortunate circumstances, striving to create a more equal and fair society for all.
When he told me about the Hope project and he introduced me to Fred (Co-founder), I was excited to help out. Fred has done amazing work and continues to do so. I have visited the school and the homes of the kids on several occasions, and I sponsored one of the students for several years.
Hope is really helping some of the most vulnerable people in society by giving them access to education. The youth living in informal settlements in Mshomoroni lack basic services, live below the poverty line and are vulnerable to land evictions. Education is key for the youngsters to build a better future for themselves and to escape the cycle of poverty. Hope provides access to education, and hope for a better future for people who are often left behind by the rest of society. Volunteering and donating to Hope can help to make our society a little more equal and gives hope to people born into difficult circumstances.
I have watched the project grow over the years (from a tin-shack school with 32 children in 2008 to a high quality school that it is today), and I have seen the positive impacts it has had on the people of Mshomoroni. It is really a worthwhile project to support, and I hope that it can continue running and producing great results for decades to come.
Nitin Dani Linkedin
Nationality: Indian (Shanghai & Raipur)
Profession: Architect & CEO of Green Initiatives Shanghai
Involvement: Volunteer, Partnering in Providing Marketing/Symposia.
How did you learn about or get in contact with Hope Orphan Preschool/Alan?
Through Green Initiatives’ community events. I am the founder of Green Initiatives. Alan is passionate about environmental sustainability and came regularly to our environmental documentary screenings. We got chatting at the events.
What has been your main involvement/actions/ participation?
Providing a voice to the activities, a platform for promotion, goodwill and sharing Alan’s inspiration with many others. We (Green Initiatives) partnered with Hopsyg in holding two symposiums on social sustainability and this provided marketing and promotion for Hopsyg.
What are your feelings towards Hopsyg's work/approach/methods to humanitarianism?
Its fantastic. One does not need to move a mountain, or many mountains. Just start with what is within your control, do it well, engage others, inspire and create positive impact. I wish more people learnt from this, rather than letting megalomaniac dreams letting them from starting at all due to fear of failure or size of the problem.
Why should people support Hopsyg through volunteering/donations etc?
Cos here’s one man making a different to a bunch of kids who need and deserve a future. While he is just one man, he is able to motivate those around him to go out of their skins and act responsibly and positively.
Explain a little why you trust/buy-in to Hopsyg.
I am able to see change happening. I am able to see details of the project and the effort. There are some things I don’t need to see (like detailed cost breakdown of every expense) but what I like to see is that the team that is supporting all of this is also being treated well. It would be great if they could get some sort of rewards for their huge efforts.
Fernando De La Cal Gonzalez Linkedin
Nationality: Spanish (Madrid)
Profession: Deputy Head, Investment Promotion at Invest Hong Kong at the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office
Involvement: Volunteer, Organized six Fundraisers
How did you learn about or get in contact with Hope Orphan School/Alan? I had the chance to meet Alan in Shanghai in 2014, where we were both living and working and we became great friends. I learned Alan had founded this school for orphans in Kenya and after attending different events with Alan, this project got my attention due to its sincerity, impact and transparency.
What has been your main involvement/actions/ participation? I was involved with Alan & Hopsyg from the very start of his fundraising campaign in China and I have also organized two Hopsyg events at my workplace while I´ve also organized and volunteered at almost every other Hopsyg event in Shanghai.
- I organized two information and networking symposiums at the beautiful showroom of my company (Roca) in Shanghai. The main topic of the event was environmental and social sustainability through different initiatives, with over 150 attendees, it had a great impact. It helped to raise awareness about these issues but it specifically increased awareness about Hopsyg and at the event many more volunteers joined our Shanghai fundraising team.
- With other volunteers I organized three Kenya dinner parties. Myself and my friends did lots of cooking for these dinner parties while we also organized marketing and logistics at the event. I love to cook so this was fun for me. I have also helped organize a fun run, flea market, seminars, etc. all of them with a successful result.
This project grew rapidly in a city like Shanghai, where there is not too many options to be active in social causes and be part of the civil society. It gave me and many other volunteers to be part of such a big and successful NGO campaign and feel part of a community in Shanghai aiming to fight poverty, in a practical and meaningful way.
- It was fantastic to see the positive impact of the projects in the disadvantaged neighborhooods of Mombasa (Kenya). After our first fundraising campaign in 2016 Alan went to Kenya and used the fundraising money to build a new middle school (senior primary school). It was amazing to see the building of this new school, seeing the direct change from all our hard work, especially in such a poverty-stricken neighbourhood.
Why should people support Hope through volunteering/donations etc? Different to other possible forms of civil participation, Hopsyg has a platform to help disadvantaged communities in the short term and with total transparency. Once you know the people behind the project, it's easy to understand that there are strong political ideals (empowering education) supporting the project, which I believe is the best guarantee of its sustainability. On the other hand, the project is mainly focusing on education and health, the pillars of the future developement of Kenya which has suffered centuries of colonialism, inequality and political an economical stress.
Explain a little why you trust Hopsyg. I trust it because of it's financial transparency and reporting. I have also been a very close friend of Alan for 4 years and I deeply trust him. Also I love that Hopsyg is adopting a self-sustainable model i.e. a social enterprise, because this makes it possible to extend its impact in the long term.
Matt & Madeline Shugert
Nationality: USA (Boulder)
Profession: Music Teachers at Shanghai United International School
Involvement: Visited Hopsyg in Kenya 2018. Volunteer, Organised four Guitar Lesson Fundraisers. Organised and Supported Dinner Parties, Flea Market, etc
Matt and I have known Alan since 2016, since we all taught together at the same international school in Shanghai (SUIS). As we got to know him well, we learned about the school he co-founded in Kenya. His passion for this cause and for helping others is truly contagious and this inspired us to get involved with Hope Orphan School.
We were first introduced to the amazing team of Shanghai volunteers at their annual fundraising Christmas dinner party. From the moment we got involved with this project, we were touched by the positivity and passion everyone had in helping these children get quality access to education. One of the special things about this NGO is that every volunteer is truly valued for the contributions they make. This fosters a sense that everyone can help make a difference even if it seems like a small one.
Our main involvement with HOPSYG has been helping to organize and cook for several fundraising dinner parties in Shanghai, writing and editing newsletters, as well as organizing and teaching three group guitar classes to students at our school. The guitar classes have been very successful fundraisers, and as music teachers, we have been incredibly happy to be able to support such an amazing project through our love of music.
Matt and I were able to visit Hope Orphan School in Mombasa in July 2018 with Alan, and it was an incredible and humbling experience. We had heard so much about the school from Alan and to finally meet the students and teachers was inspiring. Fred and the team of teachers are doing amazing work and are very dedicated to helping to create a loving, engaging and safe educational environment for kids who otherwise would not have the opportunity to go to school.
Over the last several years that we have been involved with this organization, we have seen tremendous growth in the school and project vision. Alan keeps everyone well informed with project updates and is incredibly transparent with volunteers and donors, which facilitates a sense of trust. Because of the tremendous work of Alan, Fred, volunteers, donors and teachers, the lives of the kids at HOPSYG continues to improve.
By visiting the school and Mshomoroni we saw firsthand the impact this school has for these children. Through attending school they have the chance to learn, grow and also to create hope for their futures. Alan, Fred and the group of volunteers continue to dream big, and we look forward to seeing the students and school flourish.
Laura Velasco Linkedin
Profession: Partnership Coordinator @ The European Union SME Center
Involvement: Volunteer, Organizing Dinner Party Fundraisers, Supporting Fundraising Events
How did you learn about or get in contact with Hope Orphan School/Alan?
I met Alan and the volunteers when I moved to Shanghai in 2016. By that time, the team was already keeping busy organizing fundraising events and awareness raising campaigns among the Shanghai community. I fell in love with the project immediately for two main reasons: 1) it focuses on education as a way to improve the living conditions of the most disadvantaged communities, and 2) we, volunteers and donors, could immediately see firsthand how the funds raised were spent.
What has been your main involvement/actions/ participation?
I joint my first Hopsyg event in June 2016 and since then, I have been supporting and participating in every single activity: I organized the food catering at our dinner party fundraiser, I have cycled in sports fundraiser, I have sang a Kenyan song in a presentation during a company dinner, I have attended and clapped for Hopsyg in awarnesss raising symposia, I assisted at the Xmas flea market… and the best thing is that it all was effortless, I enjoyed every single moment I have dedicated to this initiative!
When I left Shanghai, I found it difficult to continue my active support to the project, so I decided to sponsor one of Hopsyg students. It is wonderful to see how you could make a difference into somebody’s future and I plan to visit the project in August 2021
What are your feelings towards Hope's work/approach/methods to humanitarianism?
Alan and Fred’s passion is the engine behind this initiative, you feel their big hearts in every action and decision taken since Hope Orphan Preschool was opened in 2008.
This passion can be seen in the project approach: HOPSYG’s project was created to bring education to the neediest communities in Mombasa, however, the project also provides food and medical support to kids who otherwise couldn´t have access to these. This proves the flexibility and capability of the project to adapt to the changing needs of the community.
Why should people support Hope through volunteering/donations etc?
If you believe that every child deserves a bright future and you want to make a great impact in a community in need, HOPSYG is the perfect project for you!
The initiative provides education support with immediate positive effects on the community and with full transparency and clarity. What’s more, thanks to the remarkable reputation that Hope Orphan School has achieved, Alan and Fred have managed to guarantee the long term sustainability of the project by admitting with tuition students from higher social classes and leaving the funds raised from donations for project expansions (i.e. secondary school) or improvements in the school facilities (roofs, latrines…).
Explain a little why you trust/buy-in to Hope.
I believe the key word is transparency. Alan made a great effort to share the financials not only with the team of volunteers but also with any third party interested in the project. All the project plans for the school where budgeted and shared with us in detail so that everybody could see the great impact of our small actions. This level of transparency and impact cannot be seen in bigger organisations.
Kristell Gathoye Linkedin
Profession: Journalist/Photographer, F&B Brand Standards Manager
Nationality: Belgian (Vise)
Involvement: Volunteer, Organized Photoshoot, Produced Photos and Edited Website. Visited Hopsyg Kenya
I met Alan in 2014 through a common friend in Shanghai but it wasn’t until 2016 that I realized how much he was doing for Charity. As I had always wanted to contribute to charity, I offered my help as a journalist and photographer by organizing charity photoshoots and re-writing some of the website. Later that year, I accompanied Alan (and my husband) to visit the kids and the school in Kenya.
This trip was a life changing experience for me. It was a mix of joy, sadness, pride and everything else in between. Our time with the children was extremely heartwarming and sometimes heartbreaking. Seeing those smiles really made every hour spent on this project worthwhile. Alan and his team have made such a difference there. They have provided them with a safe haven, teachers, clean water and daily meals, all luxuries that we take for granted in ‘developed’ countries. It is clear how happy they are to be at school and to actually have a school that they can attend. They are so eager and happy to learn!
During our visit, we were also lucky to talk to meet and talk to many of them, ask them about their aspirations. Some want to be pilots, others teachers or writers. Thanks to all the money raised by Alan and his team, this is now an achievable dream. I was also very touched to speak with the oldest teenage girl at the school. At 16, she is one of the exceptions there as most girls her age are now married and have a child. Thanks to Hopsyg and the support she is getting from sponsors, she is determined to stay at school, go to university and start a career before finding the ‘One’! Despite our different life journey, it struck me how similar we actually were when discussing love, dreams and ambitions.
Doing home visits was the hardest part, seeing how little those families have and how they are still seemingly happier than most Europeans you meet is very humbling. Most do not have homes made of concrete, clean water or electricity. The work done by Alan and Fred (co-founder) is changing so many lives, giving a chance to hundreds of kids who without this school might be wandering the streets, and in some cases, getting involved in crime, delinquency, drugs or drug abuse. Instead, they’re in school, getting an education and empowering themselves to get out of poverty.
Since last year, Alan has managed to create such wonderful momentum around the school and every target was met through various fundraising events in Shanghai. From a single room at the back of a house several years ago, plans are now to build a secondary school to follow those students who have graduated from primary education.
Now more than ever, in a world where only education is a fitting key to a brighter tomorrow, every donated skill, hour or penny can make a change, one child at a time. And to those who might ask me why I decided to help Kenyan kids specifically, I will answer, Why not?
Johannes Leberer Linkedin
Nationality: German (Leipzig)
Profession: Student of African Studies @ University of Leipzig
Involvement: Volunteer Teacher at Hopsyg, Child Sponsor, Organized Three Fundraisers
How did you learn about or get in contact with Hope Orphan School?
I met Fred and Alan in the End of January 2013. After finishing my A-Levels in Germany, I applied for a year of social service abroad before entering University. The organization American Field Service (AFS) accepted me and so I was sent to Mombasa, Kenya for my year of social service. I wasn’t able to choose my project I was going to work in and so I was even happier that I got so lucky to get to know the HOPSYG community.
Since I first met Fred and Alan they took really good care of me as a volunteer. It was my first time in an African country and so much was completely new to me. I really appreciated all their help and support in the first few weeks. They explained me all about their work in Mshomoroni and introduced me to the school staff, back then consisting of Christine and Fatuma since the primary school was not built yet.
What has been your main involvement/actions/ participation?
The preschool at that time had three classrooms (KG1-KG3) and my job was to teach the KG2-class. In the beginning I was actually a little bit afraid, because I didn’t know how the staff and the kids would accept me. This changed after the first week in which I basically observed Fatuma how she organized her lessons. The Second week I tried it myself and apart from some little language difficulties first, it worked out very well. The other teachers where always just next door and I could ask for assistance any time. So, the longer I worked with the kids, the better we understood each other. They taught me a little bit Swahili with such a patience that even the worst student (me) would pick up some this beautiful language. In exchange I taught them Math, English, Environmental science, Art and sometimes PE.
After a while, Alan asked me to help him out with some administrational work and since I had lots of free time I was happy to help out there as well. Of course, I also participated in school field trips to the beach or to the animal park in Mombasa, which was always fun.
Soon after I started volunteering in the school, I felt very attached to the kids even though sometimes their energy can be exhausting for a young European adult with a lack of authority. But never will I ever forget my time with HOPSYG and all the people involved. It was always a very friendly and happy atmosphere and I always liked walking down the dusty road to the school.
I enjoyed working at HOPSYG so much that I came back for visits in 2014 and for an internship in 2016. During that internship my tasks differed from the ones I had during my voluntary service. The school grew by that time and the small preschool became a whole primary school. So, I mostly took care of administrative work in the little office of the school and assisted the teachers with educational material from the small school library. Every Wednesday I assisted some teachers with the PE and I created files of all the children of the school. Additionally, I helped out with keeping track on the paid school fees of the private school kids.
Why should people support Hope through volunteering/donations etc?
Through my studies I became a little bit skeptical about the topic development aid. There’s a big discourse about whether it is actually helping or in fact causing harm to communities in need. But through my experiences with HOPSYG and all the people involved, I can definitely assure that HOPSYG is making a difference in the Mshomoroni community. The kids are offered a happy and safe environment. The school has already a reputation of providing real quality education to the children of Mshomoroni. After finishing my year of social service, I wanted to stay a part of the HOPSYG-community and I told my friends and family back in Germany all about my experiences in Mombasa. Together we organized some fundraisers for the construction of the primary school. When I was back in Mombasa for my internship at HOPSYG I could document at firsthand what the money we collected was spend on.
Fred and Alan always make sure to provide enough transparency and information about what is going on in the project. My time at HOPSYG influenced me severely and partly made me the person I am now. For me it gave me the experiences I needed before I started my studies back in Germany and I always miss the amazing times I had with the staff and the kids. To summarize: I can totally recommend a voluntary experience at the great HOPSYG-Family!
Explain a little why you trust Hopsyg
I would say I trust HOPSYG because I have been involved with them for almost five years now and I never had a reason not to. Alan and Fred explained everything I wanted to know about the project and I am so convinced that the school is a project worth supporting that I keep on coming back. Never was I disappointed but rather amazed on how the project grows and more and more children are given the opportunity to get good quality education, a safe environment and even a family.
Nationality: American (Kentucky)
Profession: International Development & Teacher
Involvement: Volunteer, Organized Four Fundraisers. Visited Hopsyg in Kenya.
I met Alan in 2014 while we were both volunteering in Shanghai (with Stepping Stones). Unaware of his project with the Hope Preschool Kenya at the time, I quickly formed a connection with Alan, as we both had a passion for education and poverty. It was actually when I participated in his fundraiser at Shanghai United International School (SUIS), a charity-run for Hope school, when I found out how much Alan had already accomplished in Kenya. His work was inspiring and I’ve been a really committed member of his volunteer team ever since (cooking, organizing volunteers, selling tickets, etc.). We are a group of about 14 core volunteers and we work so well together as we all have the same goal: to educate poverty-stricken children in Kenya. Our volunteers are drawn towards Alan’s sincerity and dedication, he spends much of his free time working on this project. We have a strong network here in Shanghai that continues to grow with every successful event we organize.
We believe we can make a small difference for a few poverty-stricken children. We are creating awareness and a connection by bringing our community together to take action against inequality.
I organized a flea market for Hopsyg and this went hugely successful, we had 180 people attend, we had 14 vendors (selling food and beverages), 8 yoga classes, two sutainability presentations and we sold used clothes, electronics, jewelry, etc. Although the work had consumed me (haha) I wanted to make a small difference for those less fortunate than us! Now that Alan has left Shanghai I am leading our activities in Shanghai. We recently organized a youth skills workshop and I organized our Kenya Christmas party of 2017.
We’ve been able to tap into Shanghai’s massive reserve of quick moving young people who want to make a difference. These efforts are important in a growing place like Shanghai. The sheer opportunity for impact here is huge.
Nationality: Chinese (Shanghai)
Profession: Engineer, CEO of Sure Maker
Involvement: Volunteer, Organized Two Fundraisers.
I got to know Alan through our mutual friend (David Dorfman) in Shanghai in 2015. After meeting Alan I started to discover a big story behind Alan with his Hope Orphan Preschool. Our meeting was at a very good timing, because I was hoping to start a Corporate Social Responsibility project at my own company. It has been such a wonderful match for both of us. I invited Alan to my company to share his experiences about poverty, charity and education in Kenya. Later, generous donations were given by my employees as they were inspired by Alan’s dedication and achievements.
After that, I also started to share and promote Alan's story in my son's classmates' family, because it was so good for kids to understand the poor living condition and inequality in Kenya. We are staying in the same planet but with such different living standards. I wanted to promote sympathy, responsibility and desire for change amongst our children.
Alan has done an amazing job and has tremendous achievements for Hope Orphan Preschool. As a volunteer I will continue my support to him and the school in the future. I also hope there are more people to come and join us for this meaningful program supporting humanitarianism.
Esme Harvey Linkedin
Nationality: British (Birmingham)
Profession: Fitness Coach
Involvement: Volunteer, Organized two Fundraisers
I was first introduced to Hope Orphan Preschool and Alan through an alternative volunteer project (Green Initiatives) in Shanghai in 2016. I was looking to become involved with a Kenyan based School project specifically, because I have family connections in Kenya, so It was kind of fate and luck. I then met Alan for a coffee and I was moved and inspired at their past projects, it encouraged me to help with their future fundraising projects.
Since then my main involvement with Hope has been through my passion for fitness. I have been able to combine fitness and fundraisers for Hope. I organized two different fundraisers for Hope, a sponsored spinning class at Spinback and a Brazilian Jiujutsu class with Warzone at the Spring Bazaar at Lost Heaven. Both projects ran really smoothly and successfully. I´m now helping organize the Kenya Christmas party of 2017.
Its been a true pleasure to work with Alan and the team of dedicated Hope volunteers, they support each other so well in organizing hugely successful fundraisers. They’re such an amazing team of selfless volunteers. Alan is very fair, dedicated and supportive and his attitude towards Hope matches this ethos, from the moment I met Alan, I could see his passion for this cause.
Inés Bartual Linkedin
Nationality: Spanish (Valencia)
Profession: Marketing Manager at TISSOT/Swatch
Involvement: Volunteer, Organized Christmas Dinner Party 2016
I met Alan in 2015 and I can proudly say that since then we have been great friends. He is the kind of person who easily transmits his energy and good vibrations to anyone around, that's for sure one of the main reasons of the successful fundraising campaigns for Hope Orphan Preschool.
He has created a group of dedicated volunteers around this project involving us all, with the kids in Kenya. He is always motivating us showing photos of the school, the future plans for it, testimonies of the kids. You have this direct feedback from the people who are on the other side of this project, you know perfectly how much impact your volunteer work has on these kid’s lives and there is not a more powerful fuel than this one.
I got involved in 2016 in the project, specifically as treasurer for the two fundraising dinner parties (Christmas and Summer dinner parties at Glo London Shanghai). I have also helped in promotion and other events, spreading the word about the NGO and its work both in Shanghai and Spain. What I like the most about Hope is Alan’s transparency. He openly tells us exactly how each penny is spent, how much we raise from fundraisers and donations. Then we see Alan travel to Kenya, complete the school building and send us daily videos and photos, it’s just such an amazing feeling of achievement and successful humanitarian action.
A Video of Our Volunteers
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