“I really just felt God move something in my heart,” Phillips said. “I felt the Lord tell me, ‘You’re going to be a part of starting a home here.’”
Initially, Phillips, of west Buckhead, said he was overwhelmed by the message he received that day on a mission trip in Kenya.
“I was open to it,” he said. “But I was going through that stage where I didn’t know what to do. I was like, ‘Where do I even start?’”
Now 22, Phillips is the director of the Kimbilio Project, a mission to open a 75-child orphanage in Nanyuki, Kenya.
Kimbilio means “refuge” in Swahili.
“There are about 2.6 million orphans in Kenya,” Phillips said. “Some kids are stuck in the hospitals, police stations or even on the streets, and we want to reach them, and we know God has called us to.”
The project is part of the organization Choose to Invest, founded in 2002 by Kristin and Nathanael Avery, who now live in Kenya with the majority of the Choose to Invest employees.
“Kristin and I knew that we would start children’s home in Africa one day but we weren’t sure how that would happen,” Nathanael Avery said in an email. “Edward participated in our Journey Internship experience and began to share the visions he had for the same thing.”
Phillips was a communication and public relations major at Clemson University in South Carolina, which gave him the skills to conduct fundraising and networking efforts for the project.
Phillips said they need to make $10,000 by November to secure the land, which costs a total of $30,000. In all, they need to raise $600,000 to build, hire staff and house the children.
“By August of next year, we would break ground, and then have the children and be operational by 2014,” he said. “The goal is to have at least five kids by December of 2014.”
The main fundraising event is the annual Run for Orphans in February in Alpharetta.
Phillips came up with several other ways for people to donate, including hosting a dessert night to raise awareness of the project.
“Anyone who donates to the project will have their name engraved into the foundation of the orphanage and receive updates on our progress,” he said.
Once the orphanage is off and running, Phillips said they will start the project’s second phase of family style homes and eventually, a school.
“Our number one goal is to holistically care for orphaned children. We have experienced many different styles of orphan care here in Kenya but nothing seems to be nurturing the whole child,” Nathanael Avery said. “Our focus will be to care for children in such a way that they will grow in to the person they were created to be and that they will become leaders who impact those around them.”
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