HELPING HANDS: The Umoja Orphanage Kenya is starting to take shape due the the dedication of founder Cathy Booth, volunteers and the local community. Photo Contributed
HELPING HANDS: The Umoja Orphanage Kenya is starting to take shape due the the dedication of founder Cathy Booth, volunteers and the local community. Photo Contributed Contributed

Building a brighter future

MANY of us have a childhood dream, the things we talk about doing when we grow up, when being a superhero or a fairy princess is an acceptable occupation - before we understand the term "reality".

But for Bundaberg's Cathy Booth, the end of July this year could mark the moment when her childhood dream actually becomes reality.

She has been nominated as a candidate for the Heritage Bank of the Year Volunteer.

If she wins the title, she will receive $10,000 towards the Umoja Orphanage Kenya.

"My mum used to say when I was a child I always talked about working in an orphanage - I think I can just remember," she said.

"But of course over the years that all got lost and forgotten."

Then in July 2011, during a holiday to Kenya, Ms Booth saw children with nowhere to go and immediately knew she had to do something. So she founded the Umoja Orphanage Kenya, a project aimed at providing a home and a better life to some of the world's most neglected children.

"It hasn't been easy," she said. "It's been incredibly time-consuming but it's a tribute to so many people."

While Bundaberg helped Ms Booth kickstart her dream, generously donating a significant amount of funding, in more recent times the project has expanded to see people from all over Australia and the world contribute to the final goal.

Returning to Kenya numerous times since 2011, most recently in September last year, Ms Booth said the Umoja Orphanage was taking shape, with the entire 15-acre property securely fenced, guttering on the cottage completed and a water tank attached.

With volunteers from around Australia lending their expertise, Ms Booth's dream has been built from hard work and dedication.

"The volunteers have shared their advice; we've had builders, a cattle farmer, nurses, and a dairy farmer - just everyday people," she said.

Preparing to travel to Kenya in April, Ms Booth said she would tender out the contract to build the first home to house the children.

"If this can be done in April then the goal is to have it built by the end of July," she said.

"We've already had sponsorships pledged for the first 11 children for two years, so we don't have to worry about the cost of food or medication."

Vote now

Vote for Cathy Booth to become the Heritage Bank Volunteer of the Year to help her win $10,000 towards the Umoja Orphanage Kenya

Visit www.heritage.com.au/People-First.aspx, click on Volunteer of the Year and search "Cathy Booth" to vote by Friday



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