One of the more unique charities operating in SL is “Feed a Smile” at the Lavender Field. In RL the charity is Live and Learn in Keyna (LLK), a German based organization that has existed for nearly 10 years. Since 2010 it has had a presence in SL. It is located at The Lavender Field - Feed a Smile for LLK, Tohono Island (142, 81, 21). In addition to providing a relaxing and fun environment, this site has a worthy goal: to feed and care for needy children in Kenya. Every $100L provides a meal to a child there.
Resident Brique Topaz is the chairwoman of both the German and International organizations of Live and Learn in Kenya, and the driving force behind the Feed a Smile in SL. When a friend introduced her to SL and the Nonprofit Commons, Topaz quickly recognized that SL could be useful in promoting LLK’s mission of helping children. Topaz said that since July 2010, 1,454,561 Linden dollars have been donated.
The site is beautiful and relaxing. When you first arrive, you find yourself in waist-high lavender. Hummingbirds and butterflies flutter around the flowers. You can almost smell the fresh scent of the lavender. While the lavender has no connection to Africa, it provides a beautiful and colorful backdrop for the concerts.
A torch-lit path leads to a village area where there are little shops, hammocks, a relaxing campfire, and other amenities. A stream meanders around the village and down to the beach. Exotic animals and birds add a fun touch, and even the buzz of the insects sounds real.
The site is large, and the landscape is lush and beautiful. But residents don’t have to worry about their donations being used for the site instead of the children. Brique Topaz said, “Every Linden that is donated goes directly towards meals. I pay the transfer costs as my own donation.” She went on to explain that nearly everything on the entire site has been donated, the land, the amenities, and even the sale items.
The land is being donated by OT Rentals, owned by Tomac Sewell and Ofelia Lavel, and Maria Binder. Dolly and Lilith Heart, owners of Heart Nursery, donated the plants, trees, waterfalls, campfires, and other landscape articles. All of the musicians perform for free, and many even donate Lindens as well. Both men and women’s clothing can be bought in the village, and all the Lindens go to the charity.
The concert area has information, a stage, and plenty of room for residents to relax or dance. I caught the last half of CraigGore Redfield performing live for about 20 residents. Like all the musicians who perform here, CraigGore donated his talent to the cause. (He even donated some Lindens, too!) His meaningful lyrics and excellent guitar skills were crowd pleasers. I was sorry I didn’t arrive in time for the entire show, but I was able to enjoy many of his selections, including “Ballerina.” “Diamonds Along the Way,” “High, High Places,” and the closing song, “Redemption.” His was the second concert of the day, and a total of 24,000 Lindens were donated that day.
For residents who want to do even more for the children, there is a RL sponsorship program available. More information about this program can be found at the site or by contacting Brique Topaz. One sponsorship has already been established because of the SL site, and other residents have shown an interest in the program. Sponsorships, however, operate outside of SL. Topaz explained that because the sponsorships are real and involve contact with the children, they cannot be anonymous.
The RL city where the children reside is Nakuru, a fourth largest city in Kenya. The area where the children reside is extremely poor and faces many challenges. Brique Topaz’ RL counterpart visits there at least once a year. Although it is not a fun or typical tourist trip, going to Nakuru keeps her knowledgeable about the needs of the children and the ways that the organization is helping them. More information about the RL site, as well as the organization, can be found at http://www.llk-selb.de.