Member Login

BENEVOLENT FUND HISTORY

In 1997 an elderly caddy was knocked down by a hit-and-run vehicle on Ngong Road and his leg was badly broken.  Some of the other caddies asked Cilla White to help, who arranged admission for him at PCEA Kikuyu Hospital.  However as the injury was complex, he also needed surgery at the Aga Khan Hospital, where Cilla was working at the time and was able to get him assistance.  This elderly man turned out to have no living relatives at all in the world – he thought he once might have had a cousin in Loitokitok, but didn’t know if he was still there or even still alive.  Fortunately the Whites had a spare staff quarter at their house, and he came there to recuperate.  To the credit of the surgeons, he was able to walk again after extensive treatment, and eventually even to  work again as a caddy. He passed away some years later.

This incident highlighted the precarious lives of the caddies, often threatened by incidents in which their very low and variable income left them unable to cope, and which brought disaster and even death to themselves and their families.  Thus, from a proposal made to the Club by Mr Isaac Awuondo,  Cilla White and Jackie Ayton, the Karen Club Benevolent Fund was formally launched in 2000 with Mr Isaac Awuondo as the first Chairman.  The fund’s income was to come from the annual Charity Golf voluntary donations and additional donations from members.

From then on the Fund committee considered applications received from caddies or the lowest paid staff members for assistance with medical or other major problems or disasters, and was able to assist with many of these.  One of the biggest problems tackled was in 2006, when golf Starter Duncan Mbugua, not yet 40 years old, suffered from kidney failure which threatened his life and also the welfare of his wife and two young sons.  Medical assistance was sought and it seemed that Duncan would be a good candidate for a kidney transplant; his family was very supportive, raising funds for his treatment, and willing to donate kidneys if compatible.  By good fortune the brother’s kidney was compatible and the operation was successfully carried out at Nairobi Hospital in 2007 by member Dr Robin Mogere.  Club members were extremely generous with donations, and the balance needed was made up from the Charity Golf Day funds.  Since that time the Fund has also continued to assist Duncan with anti-rejection medication, which will continue to be necessary for his lifetime.  

The Fund committee now also started to look into ways  to improve the precarious lives of the caddies, who can never be sure of work and are at risk of great suffering when bad weather (whether flood,  drought or just a holiday period) means few golfers  on the course.   From 2006 the Fund therefore began assistance with secondary school fees for the children of caddies, and later extended eligibility to lower-paid employed staff members.  The fund committee felt that these families would have a more secure future if at least some of their children could complete secondary school, without which otherwise the cycle of poverty would never be broken.  Since then the Fund has assisted well over 100 children.  The policy is that a child once accepted on to the scheme is supported until leaving school.  This applies regardless of grades achieved, on the principle that it is better that children complete secondary school rather than dropping out early.

From mid 2008 to 2009 many months of dry weather resulted in less golf being played, and many caddies and their families were close to starvation. Members Joe Karago, Isaac Awuondo, and Jimmy Kimondo generously donated food packages to the caddies at this crisis time, as also did the Benevolent Fund. 

A new dimension was added to the Benevolent Fund scheme when Dr Helmut Danner was instrumental in setting up a micro-savings scheme with the assistance of Madison Insurance Ltd through committee member Mr James Wainaina. The idea was to encourage caddies to make some provision for their own  future by paying a small sum into the scheme on a regular monthly basis. The scheme provides for a funeral and surviving family benefit in the event of a caddy death, and the building up of a retirement savings fund by the very small but regular contributions. Many insurance companies would not find such a scheme attractive, and the innovative support of Madison Insurance has been invaluable.

The income to the Benevolent Fund, originally solely from the Charity Golf Day, was further secured  when it was agreed that an annual special levy would be made on all golf members.  At present this stands at 500/- per golf member.  A regular annual donation from the Charity Golf Day also helps to secure funding for these poorer members of the Club community.

Karen Country Club has, we believe, been a leader among golf clubs in its policy of assistance towards the least privileged of the club community.  Members can be proud that they have helped many families to feel there is a better future ahead when their children are able to complete secondary education; and also that caddies and the lowest paid staff can feel that they are not alone when some medical disaster strikes.  Further, the savings scheme initiated by Dr Helmut Danner is helping to establish a culture of making regular savings,  and so bringing to the caddies some pride in being able to build up a fund  of their own to make some provision for the future of their families.  These schemes form an important part of the club’s corporate social responsibility commitment.

CHARITY GOLF DAY HISTORY - 1994 TO 2014

This annual event took place at Karen Club for the first time in 1994.  At that time Cilla White was working as the Administrator of PCEA Kikuyu Hospital, and the hospital had many needs which exceeded its income.  Jackie Ayton and Cilla were friends, and they thought of the idea of asking the Club if a golf event might be held to assist the hospital.  The Club management agreed to this and the first event duly took place, raising KES 80,000/-, with which Jackie and Cilla were astonished and delighted.  So were outpatients at the hospital who now had seating in the waiting area which had hitherto been minimal.

The event was enjoyed by the golfers, and so found its way into the annual club golf calendar. It was originally an individual event, but was soon changed to a team format, with a single scorecard for the team of four and the only two best scores to count, with no individual prizes.  This made for a more sociable and enjoyable event, though nonetheless fiercely fought!

The idea of producing a magazine for the event only came up in 2000, so for the first six years of the event there are no pictures of  the golfers or articles and pictures of the beneficiaries available. From 2000 the team photos were shown in the magazine, and in recent years the Club librarian Amos Rotich has taken the photos as the teams set out, with a Club member helping on the other start tee.  The first magazine shows photos  of Chairman Isaac Awuondo presenting cheques to Mrs Anne Palmer of the Red Cross,  Mrs Muringo Kiereini of the Flying Doctors Society and Michael Otieno of the Karen Street Boys Trust.  The winner of the golf competition that year was the Chequered Flag team, and Joe Kibe won the prize for the best individual score of 43 stableford points.

After some years a raffle was added to the event, so that non-golf members of the Club could also take part.  In 2000 the raffle was boosted greatly by the support of South African Airways, who donated two air tickets to South Africa.  This was a huge step forward as such an attractive prize brought in substantial funds from ticket purchases by members.  Richard Markham, who for many years ran the raffle draw at the prize-giving, was superb at last-minute sales of tickets with his talent for cajoling and persuading members to buy more tickets than they meant to!  In other years Brussels Airlines has been the most frequent and most generous provider of air tickets for the raffle, with other airlines occasionally also helping, such as Turkish Airlines and Qatar.  The search for air tickets is almost the first task for each year’s event, and it is always a huge relief for the organizers when a donor has generously agreed to help.

There is a long list of corporate donors who have been remarkably consistent and generous in their support and most easy and delightful to deal with.  Those who have supported for the most years are listed below: they have been the pillars of the event and make life so much easier for the organizers as they respond quickly and positively every time.  We have almost never had to follow up a promised payment from any sponsor, and have aimed and almost always achieved having all payments in the bank before the day of the event.

The distribution of the funds has been almost entirely in the hands of the organizers, with a strong preference for recipient organizations which have a Club member associated with them, with the intention that this should ensure good use of the funds.  Where there is no club member associated, the choice has usually been to buy goods or equipment and donate that, rather than just handing over money.

Over the first twenty years of the event, a total of just under KES 37 million was raised.  If this number is adjusted for inflation this is equivalent to approximately KES 46.6 million today.  The 2014 event added a further 4 million and so the total 21 year effort now stands at over 50 million shillings. The event is the major plank of the Club’s corporate social responsibility activities and allow it to be a good neighbour to the many less fortunate communities around us.