A few days ago, a Kenyan man named Omari was released from the hospital after recovering from injuries sustained while defending an orphanage from a band of roving thugs— by himself. They slashed him in the face with a machete, leaving him with a large wound that required stitches. After the incident, a founder of the Longonot Education Initiative appealed to community members of Reddit, asking for $2,000 so the orphanage could build a wall to protect them. A modest request for a worthy cause. So, how much did they raise for Omari and the orphanage?
Thirty-five children between the ages of 2 and 17 currently live in the Faraja Orphanage, and they're all cared for by Omari's mother. She and the children raise chickens and vegetables for food, but they struggle to make ends meet. According to a representative of the Longonot Education Initiative, after the attack that left Omari disfigured, the children were afraid to reenter their home, afraid that people were still waiting inside to attack them. "Invasions" and attacks by roving gangs of thugs aren't uncommon in Ngong, and Omari was fairly certain that the attack that injured him wouldn't be the last. The representative promised that if the effort raised anything over $2,000, the group would use it to buy food and supplies for the kids.
Donations poured in, and within hours they'd surpassed their goal. But Redditors weren't done yet. After 14 hours, they'd reached the final $50,000 figure, and it seems that donations haven't stopped. Included in the orgy of giving was a $10,000 donation from Weebly, a company that allows users to create their own blogs and websites for free.
It's kind of amazing to follow a live comment thread of people gathering together to perform an act of incredible goodness for a group of strangers. Even though the drama is unfolding between thousands of people separated by thousands of miles, the aghast updates from the foundation representative are enough to make even the most shriveled of hearts grow three sizes.
Omari, meanwhile, has become a bit of an of-the-moment folk hero on Reddit, with members discussing sending him a tank, photoshopping his head onto suits of armor, and asking to write him letters.
Much deserved, and a great example of what can happen when people on the internet get together and do whatever the opposite of bullying is. Oh yeah: "helping."
UPDATE: According to an updated post on Reddit, the effort has now raised $65,000 for the kids.
Meet Omari [Reddit]