Paul Goldbeck ’07 said that the best prize life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.

He demonstrated this mantra when he and Reverend Ben Kuoba co-founded the Talena Fund, ‘Fire Within,’ a non-profit organization in Bungoma, Kenya.

The organization, formed in July 2006, developed safe housing and education for its population that has been orphaned because of AIDS.

“Since the 1970s over 23 million people have died from AIDS. By the year 2010, this number is expected to climb to over 45 million. Until these numbers are studied, understood and taken into your heart it is difficult to look ahead with any real goals,” said Goldbeck.

The goal of the Talena Fund is to improve the education systems in Kenya and Western Kenya.

“We are trying to get people together to understand the need for education,” said Goldbeck.

Goldbeck came up with the idea for the project after a volunteer trip he took with Volunteer Kenya.

Volunteer Kenya is a small non-profit organization that was created seven years ago.

Students live with families on a sugar cane farm and pay roughly $800 to the family, which includes room and board as well as medicine used to treat children.

Goldbeck was one of a group of students who helped run the organization, traveling by van to surrounding villages to deliver needed medicine and materials, which treated diseases such as malaria and malnutritions.

Children in this area suffer most from these diseases.

“With the correct resources it is believed that Talena Fund will create more smiles, more hope and more fairness in a community that has simply been unlucky,” said Goldbeck.

Although Bungoma is not the poorest city in Kenya, it is an appropriate place to begin this project, Goldbeck said. It has resources, school systems and people who are motivated to work for a change.

“Talena Fund strives to remain community-based while ensuring sustainability, working with indefatigable stamina,” said Goldbeck.

His plan is still in its early planning stages, but over the next five years Goldbeck hopes it will become a private corporation.

“I wanted to start small. This is a really important primary step. I love kids. They are so sweet and innocent,” said Goldbeck.

Since the onset of this project, Goldbeck has remained dedicated despite setbacks.

“While in Kenya, I contracted malaria and I had to deal with the effects. I know how it feels and how the children suffer,” said Goldbeck.

Talena Fund is a Fellowship Program run through the biology Department.

Goldbeck said he plans to continue the project after graduating from Fairfield.

“Next year I’m going to be teaching biology in the Philadelphia School District where I hope to incorporate the goals of Talena Fund into my lesson plans. In doing this I hope to raise awareness in my students,” said Goldbeck.

“Talena Fund is about what’s to come; next year and in the years to come,” said Goldbeck.

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