On Saturday, February 1st, supermodel Jessica Stam hosted the Second Annual Building Blocks for Change Care for Kenya Winter Ball at the Angel Orensanz Center, a beautiful space formerly a synagogue. The black tie event was a fun-filled, inspiring evening which raised enough money to open up the first Women’s Health Clinic in Kiberia, Kenya. The Clinic will manage HIV/AIDS testing and treatment, as well as maternal care. Care of Kenya was the operating partner on this project and will be managing the clinic.
Celebrities in attendance included Jessica Szchor, Jane Moore, Arizona Muse, Jessica Richards (Shen Beauty) and Jeremy Penn (NY Based Modern Artist). Jeremy Penn donated his famous painting of David Bowie, “Baby Chameleon,” while other supporters bid up to $10,000 towards the cause. Aside from the loud auction, there was also a silent one in which guests bid on items such as Louboutin pumps, Baublebar jewelry and a D’Angelico guitar.
Taking the stage to give speeches were host Jessica Stam, co-founder of Building Blocks for Change, Zachary Waksal, founder of Care of Kenya, Daleela Farina, and former Kenyan Ambassador to the United Nations, Bob Jalang’o. Daleela pointed out that “In Kenya, women face two serious challenges. First, they lack the access to basic education, job skills or vocational training to support their families, even though they are the primary breadwinner. Second, women are infected with HIV/AIDS at a rate 4 time that of Kenyan men. Often, they are infected by their husbands, who may frequent sex workers, or due to rape, which is common in the slums.” Indeed, there is tremendous need for a women’s health clinic in Kiberia.
As Ambassador Jalang’o profoundly expressed, “investing in a woman impacts her entire family.” Having been born in a rural village in Western Kenya, the Ambassador stated that “a Kenyan woman spends 90% of her earnings on her family, compared to just 40% for a man. Simply put, supporting a woman produces amazing results.”
Guests danced the night away to music by DJ Trace and then continued onto the After Party at Toro where the fun continued.
Building Blocks For Change, founded in 2013 by Zachary Waksal, Julian Waksal and Julia Fehrenbach, is a nonprofit for international aid, striving to reduce poverty and enhance standards of living globally. Some key elements for a healthy economy include health, education, potable water and sanitation services. Without this basic infrastructure, other forms of aid are difficult and not able to sustain a significant impact. Therefore, it is their goal to tackle these issues by facilitating development and maintenance to the communities in need of it. The plan is to give them all of the necessary tools in order to do this. Building Blocks believes that these developments would then lead to less poverty and an improved standard of living. They collaborate with other nonprofit groups looking to expand operations but that are unable to do so due to a lack of proper infrastructure.