EDMONTON – An Edmonton-based charity that helps children in the African city of Nairobi has become the unintentional beneficiary of celebrity vanity.
Hip hop star Kanye West’s plea for help with his alleged $53-million personal debt prompted the launch of the online campaign “Help Kenya, not Kanye.”
It all started two weeks ago when the eccentric musician pleaded for financial help on Twitter.
West even asked Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to invest one billion dollars into his ideas, and suggested the money spent funding his music would be a better investment than opening “one school in Africa.”
The next day West admitted he can afford the finer things in life.
The ridiculous requests prompted a (former) fan to launch “Help Kenya, Not Kanye.” Gabriel Ferrer, a senior copywriter at a Miami advertising firm, made the scrolling site that encourages fans to donate their money to more worthy causes and links out to related charities.
“Gabriel had selected 10 major organizations from across North America to receive donations for helping in Kenya and it turned out he had just discovered our organization online and we became a part of that campaign,” Todd Lorentz, a director of Edmonton-based One Child’s Village, told Global News.
The website suggests fans choose famine over fashion, saying the $700 one might spend on one of West’s sweaters — an item in his high-priced line of clothing — could instead feed an entire school of 200 malnourished orphans and their 10 teachers for a month.
“My concept was to equate the value of things Kanye is selling to exactly what you can get for that total in Africa,” Ferrer told AdWeek.
One Child’s Village was one of the charities listed on the website, alongside Habitat for Humanity, the African Wildlife Foundation, Save The Children, Kenya Help and several UNICEF programs. The One Child’s Village charity and its school helps children affected by HIV and AIDS.
Lorentz was completely surprised that his small organization, which operates out of his Edmonton home, ended up being listed on the website, but says he’s happy to go along with it.
“I don’t think Kanye had any idea what he was sparking when he was talking about his own line of clothing,” Lorentz said. “I know that people love to love Kanye and they love to hate Kanye for whatever reason. We just enjoy the campaign, we don’t have an opinion on that at all.
“For us, the serious side of it is really helping the kids and that’s really where our hearts are.”
Lorentz hopes the attention from this story will help boost donations and volunteer interest. The group really hopes to take advantage of what he describes as a “lightning strike.”
“I did put out a posting on the internet that we would love to see a donation from Kanye if he wanted to serve in that way, as well as his clothing line and his art… If his donation was big enough I’d even take him to the project and introduce him to the children… the lives in which he’s making a change.”
With files from Kevin Robertson, 630 CHED, and The Canadian Press
© 2016 Shaw Media