I've written about Reddit, the social news site, here before and I find a lot of great stories there that I pass on to my readers. I love the site for that — it's a fantastic place to find news.
But Reddit has become much more than that. Reddit has become an incredible community of people who get amazing things done in between rage comics and Ron Paul news. The group turned its collective wrath (which snowballed out onto the Web and mainstream media) onto a scumbag Texas judge who beat his disabled teenage daughter on tape, shut down a private school in Maine with a long history of abusive behavior towards its students, made (and magnified) a LOT of noise about SOPA and PIPA, raised more than $200,000 for Doctors Without Borders (yay /r/atheism!), and just recently donated more than $80,000 for an orphanage in Kenya.
I was browsing Reddit not too long after a post with this title popped up "Meet Omari. Two days ago he returned home from the hospital after being hacked in the face by a machete defending an orphanage of 35 children by himself. Think we could raise the $2,000 needed for the remainder of the cement/barbed wire wall to keep both him and the children safe?" It wasn't hard to see how far that post would go.
The story of Omari and his orphanage is a remarkable one. The Faraja Orphanage in Ngong, Kenya, is the home of 35 children between the ages of 2 and 17 and is run by Omari and his mother. In the week before Omari was attacked, the orphanage was robbed in the middle of the night on two separate occasions. On the third night Omari woke up and heard the intruders. Despite being outnumbered by the three robbers, he fought them off and wounded one with a thrown hammer (like a boss). The robbers fled into the night. The next night they were back and hungry for revenge. Omari was again outnumbered but also outmatched this time and was slashed in the face by one of the attackers with a machete.
Soon after the post hit the front page of Reddit, the comments, upvotes (Redditors vote up links and comments that they like), and cash started pouring in. As of the publishing of this post, the total donated was up more than $80,000 and many Redditors threw in offers of their volunteered time (some have started organizing around the idea Redditors Without Borders). $80,000 is lot of money anywhere, but is especially so in Kenya where the average yearly income is right around $800.
Redditor TheLake, who posted first the plea for help, is Ben Hardwick, a college student who first met the children of the orphanage after studying abroad in Kenya back in 2010 and who started the Longonot Education Initiative, the organization accepting donations for the orphanage, with friends and fellow students Kyle Burkholder and Liana Leyrer.
Ben has started a blog to keep track of everything happening, and I'll direct you there for a good place to catch up on how things are going and to see pictures of the children.
Oh, and Ben's last update on Reddit made it sound like the the orphanage's fence is coming right along:
I forgot to upload the pictures of the new locks we installed on all of the doors yesterday! Keep in mind these doors/locks are also protected by a metal gate with newly installed padlocks. Today we got A LOT of work done! We hired a construction company to build the wall; they have agreed to have it completed it one week. We purchased the sand and gravel, and the stone will arrive tomorrow. We will also buy the remaining tools and materials tomorrow morning. As you can see we had to tear down part of the wooden gate (in order to get the trucks into the compound), which we promptly put back up before dusk! Construction beings at 8 am sharp tomorrow! We also have a number of volunteers who want to help, which will only speed up the process. It's hard to describe how amazing it feels to see all of this happening so fast. It was only a few days ago this all seemed like a dream!
Nicely done Reddit!
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