It is difficult to imagine the conditions that millions of people in extreme poverty live in around the world. They are seemingly far-away places without sewage systems and clean running water, where there is no organized trash removal and garbage is left to pile in the streets. But Steve Baroch and Ana Ximenes don’t have to imagine it because they have seen it firsthand. After visiting a former college roommate turned lifelong friend, “…and seeing the conditions in Africa…we seem to have naturally gravitated toward spending time on working to make a difference,” said Baroch of the impressionable visit.
Their want to help was shaped at an young age. Both had been exposed to charity work by parents, who also saw the need to help others. Ana’s early childhood was spent in Central and South America where her father first worked for USAID, then upon returning to the US was Commissioner for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and fought for Hispanic Civil Rights in the U.S. Steve’s parents were part of a group who helped Mother Theresa’s efforts get recognition in America and worked as ‘National Links for US Co-Workers’, an affiliate to her Missionaries of Charity. Because of their life experiences and interests, it was inevitable that their paths would cross while attending the same college in London.
Some years later, now married, Steve and Ana have settled their boots in Castle Rock. Currently, they work with the local Castle Rock High Noon Rotary Club, Rotary International and an organization called TransAfrika, to give aid to African Communities. “TransAfrika has worked over the past 10 years to better the lives of African people. Through shipments of medical supplies, building of schools, supporting teacher salaries, supplying schools with computers, books and other supplies, TransAfrika has improved education and health for thousands of people,” Baroch proudly states. However, the aid that the organizations have generated and the improvements that have been made thus far are only the beginning.
“Our most pressing project is the new school in Ngong, Kenya. The school is built and stocked with books and supplies, and now we are working on getting funds through donations to open the doors in January 2015 for our first term!” And understanding the importance of education, they plan to work with several other charity organizations to put together a “long-term, economic development plan for the Ngong area including the area that the Maasai live in” to give the people the tools and knowledge to raise their own quality of life, over time.
For now, Steve and Ana are counting down the days until their next trip to visit the school that was built in Ngong, Kenya; a project that was funded by the Castle Rock High Noon Rotary Club, through TransAfrika, for the Maasai. In order to show their immense appreciation for the school, the Maasai thought it should have a special name. “The school in Kenya is named after Castle Rock, Colorado, as a “Thank You” from the Maasai to our town, and is called “Castle Rock PreSchool and Day Care.”