By Kristen Miller
COKATO, MN - Mud houses, dirt floors, and malnourished children orphaned by AIDS isn’t a typical picture one will see looking out a Minnesota backyard.
But Monday, June 8, 12 volunteers will embark on a relief mission to Nairobi, Kenya in northeast Africa, where this scene will be prevalent, if not a way of life.
The 12 from the Cokato area are volunteering through the International Adventure Center, which believes in evangelism and discipleship through mission organizations around the world.
The International Adventure Center (IAC) was founded in 2004, by Rev. Charles O’Keefe, an ordained minister through the Full Gospel Evangelistic Association.
It has recently moved from its home base in Hutchinson to downtown Cokato, above the Enterprise Dispatch office.
The purpose of the center is to teach, train, and equip people in their native country to help others long after the mission workers are gone, according to O’Keefe.
During a past trip to India, IAC workers trained 43 Hindu women in tailoring so that they could be financially successful within one-and-a-half years.
These women also received Christ, and 100 percent received employment, O’Keefe said.
Since 2004, IAC has led roughly 11 teams for projects around the world including medical campaigns offering free medical care and medicine, O’Keefe explained.
As an ordained minister, O’Keefe also holds outdoor crusades around the world, teaching Christianity.
The non-profit organization has started 48 Bible schools around the world.
O’Keefe is referred to by the young children he meets as Uncle Charlie.
Similar to past missions, the team of 12 will travel to the slums of Nairobi, where they will work within a one-by-one square mile where there is a population of 1 million, many of which are orphans and single mothers.
There is no running water where these people live, and unsanitary conditions cause disease to run rampant, O’Keefe explained.
Many of the children are orphans of AIDS, other sicknesses, and violence, according to O’Keefe.
The team will be distributing food and medicine with the objective of developing a sanitary drinking water and sewage system.
Bibles will also be distributed.
Also during this time, the team will be bringing orphans and to their new home at Uncle Charlie’s Children Home.
Land was donated with a house on it for the purpose of IAC turning it into an orphanage for African children, according to O’Keefe.
An orphanage is also being built in India.
The second place the team will go is in the eastern province of Kenya, where it hasn’t rained for three years.
The crops died because of the drought and so did the animals, according to O’Keefe.
After conducting a survey, IAC found, that on average, the natives eat one meal a day and haven’t seen a bar of soup in more than a year, O’Keefe explained.
Ninety percent of the kids in the slums have worms, and malnutrition is severe, he said.
The goal is to distribute enough food for a month to 2,000 houses, as well as soap, cooking oil, and a Bible.
Currently, the organization is $7,500 behind for this goal.
“It’s been hard to raise money this time,” O’Keefe.
To donate to this cause, send to International Adventure Center, PO Box 610, Cokato, MN, 55321.
O’Keefe is appreciative of the welcoming support the center has received from the community.
In the future, the IAC will be opening a Bible training center.
For more information, contact O’Keefe at (507) 327-8822.
To learn more about the IAC or to receive a free e-newsletter with up-to-date stories, visit www.iaconline.net.