Sally Hayes made a list of things “to do before she dies” and has completely followed through with not only going to Africa, but starting a non-profit that helps orphaned and vulnerable children of East Africa. Her story is amazing, and so is the organization itself! Here’s the story of Stepwise.
Love and Water- How did Stepwise come to be?
Sally Hayes- When I was little I used to watch Jack Hanna on tv and he was always in Africa and I knew I’d go there someday, so when I was about to turn 30 I pulled out my “to-do before I die” list and there was “visit Africa “staring me in the face. I immediately booked a volunteer trip and couldn’t get these kids out of my thoughts so I knew I wanted to do something but didn’t know how. I’ve spent the last few years devouring research on running successful nonprofit organizations and aid/development to Africa-what’s worked in the past and what hasn’t.
L&W- What programs does Stepwise provide?
SH- Stepwise provides proper nutrition, health care, and education to orphaned and vulnerable children of East Africa. We currently work to provide health care such as vaccinations, eye exams and glasses, and dental work for an all-girl orphanage just north of Nairobi; a small non-government supported school for 20 vulnerable children is receiving new uniforms and school supplies this year; and are undertaking a new school/orphanage in Mombasa for 170 children which will include a full-audit of facilities to determine compliance with our programs and then see where we can assist.
L&W- What gives you the most satisfaction in leading such a successful charitable organization?
SH- That little steps make real differences in the lives of kids that would otherwise not have access to what I would consider basic needs. Just yesterday I had to purchase a desk for a child in public school, which was $40, because they couldn’t enroll her without one. So the difference in her going to school or staying home is $40? I’m sure I spend that on coffee in a week, so yeah, this is more satisfying.
L&W- What would you say is the main driving force behind Stepwise?
SH- The driving force behind Stepwise is that every year, step by step, we see a little more progress and it recharges us to return to the states and fund raise harder for the next trip.
L&W- What is the most moving moment you’ve had with Stepwise?
SH- There was a 17-year old girl that had to drop out of school because her mother died when she was in 8th grade, orphaning her. She requested to return to school with the other girls and she’s currently enrolled with a new uniform, new backpack, textbooks, and glasses. Walking her to her first day of school and seeing how nervous she was made me feel like if this is what the work is for, it’s all worth it.
L&W- What kind of awareness have you been able to raise through Social Media for Stepwise?
SH- Through the help of many of our supporters on Facebook, we won a spot at BlogWorld as one of the top ten charities in a Name Your Cause contest. It was pretty impressive considering we were selected with large organizations such as Best Friend’s Animal Shelter and Surfrider Foundation-big names indeed!
L&W- What do you think about Love and Water International’s online community raising awareness and money for charities one drop at a time?
SH- I love anything that makes my job easier! And given that our name, Stepwise, means one step at a time, I think it’s pretty appropriate. Thanks again for this opportunity to raise awareness for our little ‘ole organization.
L&W- It’s absolutely my pleasure- thank you for sharing with us! What is the one message you would like young people to understand about Stepwise?
SH- Anyone can make a difference, you don’t have to have a million dollars or a PhD, just ambition and little sweat equity.