KFACE Klassic Basketball Tournament
Paul Chiarenza

The Storm score a basket in the Southridge gym and 15,000 kilometres away someone’s life gets changed. It may sound ridiculous, but it’s true. The KFACE KLASSIC Basketball Tournament was started in 2014 by my mother Marguerite to raise money for her foundation, The Kenya Foundation to Aid Children through Education (KFACE). What I didn’t know was how big a difference it would make. Originally, I just wanted to support my mom’s philanthropic efforts, but it wasn’t until I heard about a girl named Christina, from Kenya, that I truly realized the impact we were making.

Christine Akinci lives with her brother and sister in Kenya. Her father died of AIDS in 2008, leaving them with no money for school. It was my mother, a retired professor from UBC, who picked her out of dozens of applicants through KFACE.

“Christine was accepted at a first-rate high school but didn’t have any money. That is when she came to us and [KFACE] sponsored her through high school.” Christine has since started working towards a Bachelor of Business Management at Mt. Kenya University, a dream that for most children whose parents are victims of the HIV crisis in Africa, is basically impossible. In fact, it was the HIV epidemic in Kenya that inspired my mom to start her own foundation. “The one I was working with didn’t want to open a base in Homa Bay,” she said, referencing the part of Kenya hit hardest by the disease. “Those kids needed it the most.”

In 2014, the tournament started featuring six girls’ teams. Today the girls and boys have 16 teams combined and are running on back-to-back weekends. Projections suggest that the tournament will surpass the $20,000 mark this year and for a small organization sponsoring just 40 girls, that money goes a long way.

It’s making a huge impact on the lives of these girls. The extra expenses mount up, and after tuition, this tournament helps with medical expenses, travel home to see family, purchasing laptops, and even helping with phone bills. However, 2019 presented its own special difficulties and extra costs. For instance, some of the parents could not afford to travel to their daughters’ graduations without KFACE’s help. But the biggest, and most unexpected setback, was the violent student riots last fall in universities and colleges across the country. While none of KFACE’s girls in the affected schools were involved, their studies were disrupted and some of the schools simply canceled the entire rest of the first semester. It is fundraising initiatives like our basketball tournament that go a long way in helping with these unexpected costs.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the schools who will be participating.

Paul Chiarenza
Senior School Teacher and Senior Girls Basketball Coach

Adapted from original post January 2020