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Mississippi family to speak at Okanagan-based charity event

An American family from Mississippi is in the Okanagan to speak about the East Meets West Children’s Foundation. The family will speak at a fundraiser on Saturday.

The East Meets West Children’s Foundation annual Diwali dinner dance fundraiser will have a special guest speaker this Saturday in Kelowna.

The Followell family has made its way from Mississippi to share its adoption testimony at the fundraiser.

East Meets West Children’s Foundation assists orphaned children, both globally and locally.

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“We try to provide the basic necessities, food, shelter,” said East Meets West Children’s Foundation board member Kam Boparai.

“There are a lot of children that sometimes are found and they might just need a surgery or medical attention that we help provide.”

The foundation is not an adoption agency, but it pays for surgeries and medical procedures for orphans in India, which helps some children better find a permanent home.

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“When a child is brought to the orphanage, then it’s requested by us that this is the surgery they would need, or this is the medical attention they would need,” said Boparai.

“And as board, we would vote and see if it’s something we can provide.”

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It’s what made it possible for the family to adopt their daughter, Eden, from India more than four years ago.

“It wasn’t until we met Eden, about three years of paperwork and processing through the adoption journey that we realized there was this other entity which had been involved in her life,” said dad Robby Followell.

East Meets West’s Children’s Foundation paid for three surgeries while Eden was still in India to help with her hand, feet and leg deformities.

“So the surgeries that East Meets West funded really helped to straighten out her legs and give her the function of walking,” said mom Jessica Followell.

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Jessica and Robby are expected to speak at the Diwali Fundraiser on Oct. 19.

 “It’s based on the theme of Diwali, which is the festival of lights,” said treasurer Biki Kochher, “It includes dinner dance, silent auction, live auction, giving donations, dancing the night away.”

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This event raises thousands of dollars for the surgeries and has done well enough to help other charities.

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“We typically raise about $70,000 in one evening,” said Kochher.

The Karis Support society and the Starbright Children’s Development Centre have both benefited from the event.

While tickets for the event are sold out, donations can always be made online.