In the 2015 holiday season, Lawrence O’Donnell’s KIND Fund (Kids in Need of Desks), which supplies desks and scholarships to students in Malawi, reached over $10.5 million in donations. The organization’s goal is to build tables for rural schools in Malawi that lack school furniture.
In 2010, Lawrence O’ Donnell saw firsthand the struggles of schoolchildren lacking essential school supplies in Malawi. Every day in rural villages, children would attend school without basic school equipment, like desks and chairs.
Most students would sit in the dirt or on hard cement floors, using their knees as makeshift tables to write notes. The lack of a physical platform would lead to poor handwriting and damaged papers. Because the students only have a single pair of clothing, their families would spend every other day washing their shirts and pants, often causing children to miss class.
Wanting to help improve the bleak situation, O’Donnell contacted UNICEF and a local woodworking shop, paying them to make 30 student desks — enough for a full classroom. Realizing how easily he could improve student education, O’ Donnell created the KIND Fund after his visit.
Since 2010, the organization has built and placed more than 148,755 desks in 575 primary schools in Malawi, creating legitimate work spaces for more than half a million students who would otherwise be sitting on the dirty floor. On his show, O’Donnell thanked his viewers for their ongoing support for the KIND Fund. To him, $10 million dollars “was beyond my wildest dreams when I started [the fund].”
The KIND Fund has also benefited the Malawian communities outside the classroom by manufacturing the desks locally, creating jobs for residents since its inception.
In addition to building desks for schools, the KIND Fund also provides scholarships to young women to complete their secondary school education. Because of their impoverished situation, families choose to not send their daughters to school.
With the scholarships that the KIND Fund offers, the girls receive an education that diminishes their chances of being exploited, making them less likely to fall victim to human trafficking. Girls who finish secondary school also marry at an older age, and their babies are more likely to survive.
Knowing this, the KIND Fund promotes its scholarships and makes sure both young men and women have a brighter future and better education.
“This is proof that small acts of kindness can make a big difference in our world,” O’Donnell said.
– John Gilmore