Facing the global economic crunch, a local philanthropist is again turning to the community to help complete a long-planned project to build a home for African orphans.
On Dec. 7, Amanda Furst will host the YOU ROCK Comedy & Soul Jam at the West End Cultural Centre, to raise funds for the new costs facing Hero Home, a place for street children and orphans in Tanzania.
"The community here has been so supportive of everything we’ve done, not just financially, but spreading the word around," said Furst, the St. James native organizing the project as part of her non-profit organization Growing Opportunities International.
For the last 10 months, Furst has been on the ground in Tanzania, clearing the 30 acres of land Hero Home will occupy, and co-ordinating the digging of a new 45-foot-deep well for the community.
However, since budgeting for the $50,000 project back in 2009, Tanzania has been hit with the same economic inflation as other parts of the world, Furst said. In the last three years, prices have nearly doubled, pushing the cost of the project up to $80,000, she said.
For example, a 50-kilo bag of cement cost roughly 11,000 Tanzania shillings ($7 CDN) back in 2009. A bag now sells for $18,500 shillings a piece, or up to $12 Canadian, depending on the source, Furst said.
"It’s just one example, but everything has increased significantly, which is making the situation hard for everyone in Tanzania," Furst said.
The Dec. 7 concert features a simmering lineup, including Fringe Festival favourites Hot Thespian Action, local R&B queen Flo, the debut performance of 15-year-old Grant Park student Reynalyne Gacilan, and comedienne Aisha Alfa.
Alfa, an Osborne Village resident, will be lending support to the project through her YOU ROCK campaign, which began earlier this year to spread random acts of kindness around the city.
"Our theme was building communities one rock at a campaign," said Alfa, whose light-hearted and free-spirited campaign is anchored by decoratively-painted rocks.
"That’s what (Amanda) does all over the world and that’s why I wanted to team up with her."
Alfa has known Furst for three years, calling the spirit of community she’s fostering a "beautiful thing."
"You have this woman from Winnipeg going elsewhere and connecting communities through generous deeds," she said.
"Community is this word that we throw around. We forget that we’re part of the community. When you’re taking from community you need to be giving back."
Alfa will be showing videos of her campaign’s activities, which have included free hugs and a free lemonade and compliment stand downtown, alongside videos of Furst’s progress in Africa.
The YOU ROCK Comedy & Soul Jam will take place Fri., Dec. 7 at the West End Cultural Centre, at 8 p.m., and includes a live and silent auction.
VIP tickets can be purchased for $20 until Nov. 30, and include a free sheet of auction tickets and a YOU ROCK rock, and are available at the WECC or through firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tickets will be $20 at the door.
For more information, visit www.growingopportunitiesinternational.com or www.aishaalfa.com.