Cara Lawler ’11 always wanted to be a mother. In 2013, she founded Someone a World Away (SAWA), a nonprofit that raises funds for El Shadai Grace Children’s Centre in Nairobi, Kenya. She is now “Mzungu Mama” (English-speaking mama) to a growing group of 25 orphans.
Four years ago, Lawler, Chapman University’s 2015 Schweitzer Rising Star Award winner, volunteered at El Shadai for three months.
“There I was, meeting orphans who slept three or four to a bed and dressed in ragged, dirty clothes,” said Lawler.
She was motivated by what the children didn’t have, but she was especially drawn to what they had in abundance: joy. She committed to meeting their basic needs. Their primary need was sustainable shelter, as those who founded El Shadai in 2006 constantly rented different spaces for the orphanage.
Lawler founded SAWA upon returning to the States and immediately began to raise funds — a necessity since Nairobi natives had stopped donating to El Shadai after mistakenly assuming that its English-speaking volunteers were financial supporters.
In 2015, SAWA met its goal of $140,000 to purchase land and build a permanent El Shadai orphanage. The first of the building’s four floors is complete. The upper floors will be rental apartments to continually support El Shadai.
“Mzungu Mama” continues to raise funds for her children as she fulfills SAWA’s mission to provide Kenyan orphans with food, housing, sanitation, education, health care, love and a future.
You can donate at someoneaworldaway.org.
Display image at top: The nonprofit founded by Cara Lawler ’11 improves the lives of orphans in Kenya.