december 16, 2016
As the end of 2016 approaches, we want to share news of some recent happenings at the Talia Agler Girls Shelter in Kenya.
First, a young woman from American University in Washington, DC recently completed an internship at TAGS and its parent organization, the Centre for Domestic Training and Development. (Yes, this is the same program that introduced Tali to the CDTD when she was a student at AU!) The student, Laurel Booth, has written an account of her experience. You can read her first person account here.
Now how about a riddle? How did a Jewish girl from America manage to unite a “Lotus Healing Seva Group” of Indian Hindu women with a group of orphaned African Christian girls? The answer of course is through the Talia Agler Girls Shelter. Read the heartwarming story of their tree planting outing here.
As the year concludes, we wish to thank everyone who has been supporting the Tali Fund either directly, through One World Children’s Fund or through purchases via smile.amazon.com. Your contributions, however modest, make the motto of the Tali Fund real: “Saving the World–One Life at a Time.” It is a privilege for us to do this work and we are honored to have the support of so many.
May we all become a source of even greater blessing in 2017.
september 16, 2016
Exciting news! You can now support the Tali Fund with every purchase you make through Amazon–at no additional cost to you! It is easy, painless and most important, it makes a real impact. Register easily today at smile.amazon.com
Here is a letter I’ve just sent out to friends of the Tali Fund and the work it helps sustain:
The program at the Talia Agler Girls Shelter (TAGS) in Nairobi continues to strengthen. There is no shortage of needs and when those needs are met, it can be life changing--and frequently life saving.
Reintegrating into society after being trafficked or abused is unimaginably difficult. Having to care for a newborn at the same time makes it even more so. A number of the girls at the Shelter are new mothers (and not because they have chosen to be). To improve their chances for success, TAGS has recently instituted a child care program. It enables mothers to devote themselves to vocational training while their little ones are cared for.
We recognize how vital daycare is for professional Western women and their families. (Think of where you, your children or grandchildren would be without it!) To an underage victim of rape or trafficking, it can mean the difference between an independent life and a collapsed one–for mother and child alike.
Sophie (not her real name) is a victim of forced Migration and Sexual Abuse. She recently had this to say: “I am so excited to be able to learn and raise my son at the same time. I really appreciate Talia Agler Girls Shelter for walking with me from the time I was defiled, through pregnancy and childbirth and the continued support to me and my baby. I have no relative in Kenya and TAGS has been my family.”
There are others like Sophie at the Talia Agler Girls Shelter. For every one of them TAGS is their best hope, and perhaps their last hope, for a decent and productive life.
The good news is that daycare in Kenya is not as expensive as it is in the West. Just three dollars will provide daycare for one child for one day. Again, that is $3 for one day! That small amount allows each mother to pursue her vocational training as she builds the foundation for a new and productive life.
Thank you one and all for you ongoing love and support. It has meant more than the world to our family and to those who continue to be blessed in Tali’s name.
june 9, 2016
I recently participated in the March of the Living, an international program that takes High School seniors to the death camps of Poland followed by a week in Israel. This was my third “March” and by far the best, primarily due to the 100 Miami students who were as terrific a group of young people as you could ask for. It gave me some much needed and always welcome hope for the future.
As you might imagine on such a trip, there are countless memorable moments and I could write for some time about many of them. An intensely personal highlight was this incident, described by my colleague, Rabbi Efrat Zarren-Zohar in her newsletter.
Motza’ei Shabbat in Poland, Rabbi Eli Wolf, Rabbi Rich Agler and I shared our personal faith journeys and understandings of God after the Holocaust. Rabbi Agler spoke last and revealed that he struggles with the paradox of why bad things happen to good people every day since his 26 year old daughter Talia Agler was struck and killed by a car while out jogging one night four years ago. In tears, he disclosed that what consoles him partially is the legacy of good his daughter left behind, including a cause she used to work for that was named posthumously in her memory–the Talia Agler Girls Shelter in Nairobi, Kenya, for victims of abuse and human trafficking.
Upon hearing his story, the next day members of Rabbi Agler’s Red Bus surreptitiously collected money to support the Shelter on their bus, then went to Blue Bus and Yellow Bus to do the same. By the next morning, when we all landed in Israel and were standing on the terrace of the Begin Museum overlooking the magnificent Old City Walls of Jerusalem for our Shehechiyanumoment, Ariel Gelrud-Shiro, on behalf of all the LMMOL participants, presented Rabbi Agler with $1600 of spontaneous donations for The Talia Agler Girls Shelter in memory of his daughter. Needless to say, Rabbi Agler was again moved to tears by the compassion and generosity of the gift.
What an amazing way to take one of the key messages of the March–counteract the hate of the Shoah with acts of hesed–from theory into action!
Amen my dear colleague and thank you so much. The money the students (and staff) raised was sent through the Tali Fund to Nairobi. Edith Murogo, CEO of the TAGS, sent this message to the students in gratitude. I reprint it in its entirety.
Greetings from Talia Agler Girls Shelter (TAGS)!
We are in receipt of your donation given during the 2016 March of the Living, Miami Delegation which came through Rabbi Richard Agler whom we fondly call Rich and are very grateful for the effort you pulled together to support our cause.
The donation you gave has benefited very needy and disadvantaged girls at our shelter which is named after Rich and Mindy’s daughter who interned with us in 2006 and passed on in 2012.
We first met Tali through an abroad internship program of the American University, Washington DC, where she was a student. When Talia interned with us, she was an angel to work with and her passion for transforming the girls’ life remains unmatched. As a young Jewish girl she demonstrated commitment to her faith and opened her arms to vulnerable girls and youths in our program. We are happy that her dream of transforming the lives of others and healing the world lives on through our work.
During her internship Tali realized that our organization was struggling with finances and did not have required resources for training our beneficiaries. She was quick to say that she really wanted to do something for our organization.
Tali’s enthusiasm for transforming the world led her to call back home and was able to mobilize friends and family who donated money that was used to construct classrooms and buy equipment for training domestic workers. To date we still use most of the equipment that she donated and we pride ourselves in being the only trainers for domestic workers in Nairobi.
Shortly after Tali passed on in 2012, we named one of our programs which is a shelter for girls in her honor- this is the Talia Agler Girls Shelter (TAGS). Since its inception, TAGS has assisted over 300 girls using a 4R’s approach of Reach, Rescue, Rehabilitate and Reintegrate girls who are victims of trafficking and other forms of abuse.
The impact of Tali’s short but most fulfilling life lives on in her legacy, and today the Talia Agler Girls Shelter is a leading voice for change advocating for the rights of trafficked and abused girls in Kenya and the Region. You can learn more about our work and what we have achieved so far at www.cdtd.org.
The money you contributed has been used to pay school fees and other school requirements for our 26 beneficiaries who are in Primary, High School and Vocational Skills Training. We can never change the lives of these abused girls without the support of generous friends like you.
We truly appreciate your gesture and pray that someday you can visit us and experience firsthand the work that is being done in Tali’s honor. Welcome–Karibu from Kenya!!!
May God bless you and your loved ones abundantly, now and forever.
Executive Director–Centre for Domestic Training and Development (CDTD)
Not to bury the lede here, but $1600 paid for boarding school fees for 26 students!!! The impact this will have on their lives, through the education they are receiving that they would not have otherwise, is obviously incalculable. Once again, it is an illustration of how far even relatively modest sized donations can go in Edith’s capable hands at the CDTD and TAGS. Please rejoice in your gift. The girls most certainly are.
You can make your difference by donating to the Tali Fund here.
With gratitude and blessing, R
The Talia Agler Girls Shelter continues to thrive in Nairobi. A number of academically qualified girls who were rescued by TAGS now attend a boarding school located a couple of hours outside of Nairobi. They have the opportunity to complete secondary school and prepare for university. After a childhood marked by being trafficked, abused, exploited or otherwise victimized we can readily appreciate what a life changing opportunity this is.
Here is an excerpt from a report on the Shelter’s residents at boarding school from Edith Murogo, CEO and Guiding Light of TAGS and the Centre for Domestic Training and Development (CDTD).
“What Has It Taken To Keep Girls In School?
…From a humble beginning of sponsoring 8 girls in 2013, we have now grown our sponsorship fund to benefit 61 girls learning at different levels in 2016. This year more than ever before, we have been ambitious with our goal to “Educate a Girl–Build a Nation.” We have increased this number eight fold as illustrated here below:
Primary school Boarding – 14 students
Primary Day School – 20 students
Secondary school -9 students
Tertiary Institutions -3 students
Vocational Training -15 students
Edith with student on visiting day at boarding school
Supporting girls to go to school requires school fees and levies, uniforms, provision of classroom materials, personal items, school visits and psychosocial support to the girls and their families…I take this opportunity to invite you to continue supporting us. Give girls the only thing that can make a difference in their lives – Education!”
TAGS staff visiting with students
Thank you Edith! It remains a privilege to work with you.
Back at TAGS, life continues apace. I recently spoke with a Director from the Novo Foundation, a current sponsor. This Director travels to shelters across the globe and allowed that “Many of them can be depressing. But TAGS is not like that. There is a very good spirit about the place!” Of course we know this from our own visits but it is always good to hear such words from an expert in the field. Truly, it is a tribute to the character, leadership and skill of Edith Murogo.
Our friend Dr. Bernard Ginsberg, who traveled to Nairobi with us in November, recently donated a microscope and telescope for the use of the girls at the shelter. “Daktari Ginsberg” was moved by the dedication of the teachers and students at the TAGS and wanted to help enrich their science education.
The gift is en route and will assuredly be put to good use when it arrives.
If you haven’t had a chance to read or finish the report from our last visit to the TAGS and the CDTD, it’s just below at the 12/01/15 entry.
If you are thinking of traveling to Kenya for any reason (business? world class safari?) be sure to let us know. We will be happy to arrange a visit to the TAGS and what we promise will be a most meaningful addition to your itinerary.
ORGAN DONATION–Tribute, Video and Love
On Talia’s birthday, we also send love to the recipients of her donated organs. Some of them we know, others we do not. We remain grateful that her heart still beats, her lung still breathes and she continues to be a blessing.
Brandy Swann, who received Tali’s lung, recently penned this for the Donation Quilt that is being created in Washington, DC. You can meet Brandy in this NBC News Washington report.
“At the end of January 2012, my struggle to stay ahead of a terminal lung illness was profoundly changed by receiving a healthy lung from my donor, Talia Agler. It is with such gratitude and pride that I offer this tribute to her.
It turned out that Talia had made the decision to be a donor before she was even eligible for a driver’s license. She and her family discussed it together and put great importance on the gift of life.
I have had the pleasure and privilege of learning about Talia and her life. There is a poem which speaks of that little “dash”, that mark between the date one is born and the date one dies. In Talia’s life, that dash is way larger than the short number of years might indicate. I tried to represent some idea of who she is by making this quilt square.
Talia loved her years in Washington DC. She graduated from American University, taught Sunday School at Temple Sinai, loved working at Chemonics, and was connected in a lively way to a large group of family and friends. The beautiful stones on her grave marker serve as a reminder of the many lives she touched.
Her love for people went beyond our borders to Nairobi, Kenya where her heart and energy helped accomplish the building of a school and safe compound for women and children who have been rescued from the tragic circumstances of trafficking and other abuse. The shelter and school, TAGS, thrives today and can always use our interest.
This quilt square is to honor Talia’s life. It includes two things she was fond of saying and living by: “Family comes first … and everyone is family.” And “Donate Life”.Thank you Brandy. If you have not yet registered to be an organ donor, go to organdonor.gov today. It is painless, it is free and it is the easiest way to save a life imaginable.
Finally for now, The Tali Fund has now been established to support the causes and the values that were central to Tali’s life. It is a 501(c)(3) foundation you can contribute to securely and directly through this link. All gifts have a profound effect but if you have not already done so, you may want to consider becoming a monthly donor–any amount makes a huge difference. After unspeakable abuse, your gift will help reach, rescue, rehabilitate and reintegrate girls back into society. Simply put, you will be helping to save lives.
Thank you for your continuing support in honor of Talia and the work she continues to accomplish.