In 2000, Adrianne Dartnall and her partner Rick Lennert lost their only child, twenty one year old Danielle, when she was killed by a drunk driver. Devastated by the tragedy they sought to find meaning in their lives and to honour the memory of their daughter, who had wanted to be a teacher and loved children. Since that time Adrianne and Rick have been traveling each year to impoverished villages and communities in developing countries. They volunteer their time and talents working to improve the lives of children and their families living in poverty. In 2004, in response to the interest of more and more people who wanted to donate and be a part of the work they were doing, Adrianne and Rick formed a non-profit organization called Kids International Development Society (K.I.D.S.).
Adrianne and Rick travel to developing countries where, using their own funds as well as funds that have been donated, they assist with the basic needs for the communities they work with including: housing, clean water, medicine, schools, educational supplies, transportation and small business grants. They work in communities in Southeast Asia, where people face poverty, unemployment, high infant mortality and diseases such as malaria and dengue fever. They ensure that a minimum 95% of the donations they receive go directly to help children and families.
The activities undertaken by Adrianne and Rick in their work for K.I.D.S. benefit families and communities in very real and direct ways. They have volunteered in Cambodia, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand/Myanmar border, India and Vietnam. K.I.D.S. projects have included:
- providing equipment, water systems and improving facilities for the Angkor Children’s Hospital in Siem Reap
- providing medical, educational and household supplies for orphanages and a children’s shelter in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap
- building, operating and providing teachers for a school in Stung Treng, Cambodia
- supporting Stung Treng Women’s Development Centre, a women’s weaving center, by improving water supplies and infrastructure as well as providing kindergarten teachers for the Centre’s on site kindergarten
- operating a Girl’s Home in Siem Reap, Cambodia that ensures that eleven girls who were previously orphaned or living on the street, are provided with a good education, health care, and a loving environment
Meeting people who display courage and strength while struggling against devastating poverty, often with enormous pain and loss, has deeply touched Adrianne and Rick, and helped them in their grief. "On these projects we get to know and work with those who have lost children," Adrianne explains, "and we've been inspired by their capacity to transform their grieving into meaningful work. We've come to understand that suffering is a part of life and can't be avoided. It's what we do with our pain and grief that matters."