Sending local students to school can help educate children overseas

by: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Laura Hildenbrand, director of social services for Orphans Overseas, watches over 3-year-old Paley and 1-year-old Beckett. Parents enrolling their children in a new Lake Oswego preschool also will be supporting abandoned babies in Africa.

The Karibu Children’s Learning Center, which opened in August, offers childcare and preschool instruction. Tuition, less operations costs, supports the humanitarian work in Kenya of the Portland-based nonprofit Orphans Overseas. Laura Hildenbrand, who oversees the local learning center, announced recently that the program, at 4489 Upper Drive, has openings. It houses three children and has room for nine more.

“It provides a positive program in the community and makes (the community) more aware of the humanitarian work we have done,” said Hildenbrand, also director of social services for Orphans REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Laura Hildenbrand, who oversees Karibu Children's Learning Center, spends time with two students, 3-year-old Paley Thorn and 1-year-old Beckett Thorn.

The LO school bears a similar name to an Orphans Overseas program, the Karibu Centre in Kenya, which takes in neglected and abandoned babies and also educates disadvantaged children. Karibu means “welcome” in Swahili.

Children at the Lake Oswego Karibu who are 24 months old and older may use Waterford Early Learning, an individualized Intel program using games and activities to teach literacy, math and science. Kids use the program for about 20 minutes daily. by: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Paley Thorn, 3, gets artistic at Karibu Children's Learning Center.

“Each day, they can log themselves into the program, and it basically picks up where it was the day before,” Hildenbrand said.

The kids at the Kenya center also use programs from Waterford Institute, which creates educational computer programs and has garnered awards for its programs.

Arts and crafts, reading, play time and other activities are woven throughout the LO Karibu’s structured learning schedule. Toddlers squish Play-Doh into shapes and wield markers to fashion colorful pictures. Infants sleep, snack and look adorable.

Karibu Children’s Learning Center is “about offering a kid-friendly program that really is centered on the kids and trying to meet those needs and nurture those needs and really being able to love on those kids in a more of a smaller (teacher-to-student) ratio setting,” Hildenbrand said.

There’s one teacher, and the plan is to have two when there are 12 children enrolled.

The school is located inside of the site of the former Community House, which was a shelter and resource center for young, single moms run through Orphans Overseas. An anonymous donor bought the home for Orphans Overseas in 2001. Eventually, fewer women came to the Community House, so Hildenbrand said it was time to fulfill a different need in the community, and the preschool was born.

Care hours at the new preschool are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday. Preschool hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. There is no extra charge for early morning or late afternoon care. The cost for the local Karibu is $50 per day for ages 6 weeks to 24 months and $50 per day for ages 25 months to preschool. There’s a 5 percent sibling discount.

Lake Oswego resident Natalie Thorn said, when she heard about Karibu, she decided that’s where she wanted her two children, 3-year-old Paley and 1-year-old Beckett.

“I just think I, as a mom, have such a heart for children, and choosing to be away from my own kids a few days a week, that’s a hard choice,” Thorn said. “And to know that the money that I’m spending is going to something that’s a dual benefit, for me, kind of soothes the pain of having to be away from my kids. It’s hard to be away from your kids, and it’s hard to find a place that’s a good fit.”

Jillian Daley can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and 503-636-1281, ext. 109. Follow her on Twitter, @jilliandaley.

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