The country of Kenya was the first country to receive equipment from Angels at Bat. Additionally, Kenya has received the most equipment of all countries supported by Angels at Bat. Kenya was also the first country Angels at Bat visited to distribute equipment and teach the game of baseball personally.
Our connection with the beautiful country of Kenya began because of the generosity of a local Wisconsin Rotary Club. Very early on in the charity's history, we were simply looking for a place to receive the large amount of equipment we had been collecting; we reached out to many groups to help us out. The local Rotary Club (lead by David Yeghiaian) not only agreed to take equipment with them, they asked if we would want to travel with them. Of course, this was an offer impossible to refuse.
Just weeks before leaving on this trip, another local Rotarian connected us with George Mahinda -- the President of Kenya Little League. During our first trip to Kenya, we met with George Mahinda, distributed equipment, and taught baseball to thousands of children. We fell in love with the people/many cultures of Kenya, and knew we had to do more; with the help of George Mahinda, we were able to do just that.
During our first trip to Kenya, we brought 19 suitcases filled to the brim with baseball equipment. However, we knew that carrying the equipment to countries in Africa was not sustainable. Thankfully, George Mahinda connected us with the group American Friends of Kenya out of Connecticut (American Friends of Kenya donates library equipment, books, and other medical supplies to the people of Kenya). After talking with Wayne and Audra of AFK, they generously donated part of their yearly shipping container.
This has become our largest and primary means of shipping to get donated baseball equipment to Kenya. Each spring, we package up a huge load of equipment and drive from Green Bay, WI to Connecticut to drop off donations; if our collecting season has been especially successful, we may drive out to Connecticut twice. We are eternally grateful for the generosity of American Friends of Kenya -- without their help, Angels at Bat would not be able to be where it is.
The other way we get baseball equipment to Kenya is to bring it with us in luggage on our trips to Kenya. Although we bring much less equipment when we travel compared to our first trip, this is still a valuable process. When travelling to places that have not yet been introduced to baseball, we need equipment to be able to teach with and be able to leave with the children so they can continue to play.
As said previously, George Mahinda has been an invaluable person to both Angels at Bat and baseball in Kenya. In the early parts of Angels at Bat, George was our only equipment recipient; he had the reach and connections to be able to distribute equipment to those who need it most. As the President of Kenya Little League, he oversees the training of many baseball teams throughout Kenya. Getting equipment to George means getting equipment to many children on many teams in many schools throughout Kenya.
George has also connected us with other valuable distributors in Kenya. Samuel Gatheri is the head coach of the baseball and softball team at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT). Samuel's team is seen as one of the best teams in Kenya. Samuel also oversees many teams of younger children. We also send equipment to Samuel, so he can distribute equipment to his teams and other universities in the area.
Justus Mwaka also does a lot of our equipment distribution in Kenya. Justus and Samuel work together (along with George at times) to get equipment to other Kenyans who reach out to Angels at Bat asking for equipment.