As an avid creator, Karen has made numerous trips throughout the world to discover art in every form and art which may take on new forms. Her recycling and reclamation creations have elevated her art, crafting, eclectic and whimsy imaginings to a level of uncompromised fun!
Her heart and passion lie deep in Africa, where she has worked to promote local education, raised funds for filling local libraries and created side-by-side with local women to promote their intricate and colorful beadwork. Her stories are captivating
“My first trip as a tourist to Africa/Kenya was in 1994 when my mother-in-law, Patricia Courtney Canino, took both my husband and I (she was a firm believer in traveling to expand your horizons). It was transforming for me and I knew I wanted Africa to be a part of my future. I also knew I wanted our children to experience what I had just experienced. I went back to being an art teacher but Africa and in particular Kenya was always in the back of my mind. I returned to Kenya in 2006 with my husband and two children once more as a tourist. I became resolute in wanting to somehow make a contribution. There were subsequent trips with friends, students and families from my school and my path was beginning to take shape unbeknownst to me.
I had heard about a local Fort Collins charity called the Samburu Youth Education Fund (samburuyouth.org) and one in Denver (www.scopeint.org) that both focused on Kenya and in particular libraries and education. The Samburu Youth Education Fund was primarily focused on the Samburu area/Archers Post and worked with the two women's villages Unity and Umoja. I also found a new safari company, Uso Africa Safaris (www.usoafrica.com), that was more in line with my views about sustainability and supporting local communities.
I met the Headmaster at Lorubae Primary School and his passion for education was infectious. The needs at his school were also very great. Over the course of several trips, we carried over almost a thousand pounds of supplies. These supplies ranged from concrete nails, a hand drill, paint rollers, small buckets, blackboard paint, white board paint, white board markers, blackboard chalk, pencils, wall mount pencil sharpeners, paper, books, shoes, all kinds of playground
balls, jump ropes, back packs and stuffed animals/dolls. Of course without a lot of help from my friends, traveling companions and the school where I had previously taught, this would not have all been possible. One of the headmasters greatest desires was to have a library- there are none in the area. With the help of SCOPE International, a library arrived at Lorubae Primary School in February 2015. Additionally, with my husband's help, a treadle sewing machine was purchased in Kenya and one of the women traveling in our group taught the Samburu women at Unity Village how to sew! (January 2014)
Another area of Kenya that I have chosen to focus on is the Maasai Twala Cultural Women's Center in Il Polei, Laikipia North. I am currently working on getting a community library for them (2016) and a treadle sewing machine is in the works.”
- Karen Canino
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How to get involved
Samburu Youth Education Fund - http://samburuyouth.org/
The mission of SYEF is to provide educational opportunities for Samburu youth through financial support of their education. We place an emphasis on ensuring that all recipients show strong potential for success and a clear financial need, and that at least 50% of recipients are girls.
Uso African Safaris - http://www.usoafrica.com/
Uso Africa Safaris is a values-driven company that provides clients a once-in-a-lifetime Kenyan adventure filled with wildlife-viewing as well as experiences in local communities that increase their awareness and understanding about the world. And we do so while supporting and empowering local people and organizations that address important issues in their communities, through careful and deliberate choices in our itineraries, vendors and tour partners.
SCOPE International - http://www.scopeint.org
SCOPE partners with 54 impoverished school communities in Western Kenya to create a model for sustainable development in the areas of health, education, environment and economic opportunity.