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Wilfrid Laurier University Communications, Public Affairs & Marketing
April 24, 2014
 
 
Canadian Excellence

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Laura Armstrong, Alumna



A friendship with a little girl named Doris who lives in the slums in Kenya spurred Laura Armstrong (BA ’09) to make a change. By combining her talent for painting and a passion for helping others, she is working to provide a brighter future for children in Kenya through her not-for-profit organization, A Work of Heart.

Founded in 2010, A Work of Heart (www.facebook.com/aworkofheart3) is a small online business that sells artwork created by Armstrong and other Toronto-based artists. Half of every sale is donated to building projects in Kenya, including schools and daycares.

While travelling to Kenya in 2010 with the Global Youth Network, Armstrong became good friends with a nine-year-old girl named Doris, who lives in the Mathare Slum – the second largest in Africa. Her family couldn’t afford the $400 a year to send her to school, and Armstrong knew she wanted to help.

At the same time, a friend who was also on the Kenya trip found a postcard of a zebra he wanted turned into a painting. Armstrong – a self-taught artist – offered to paint it for him. She used that money to sponsor Doris, and A Work of Heart was born.

In 2011, as the not-for-profit began to gain steam, Armstrong desperately needed a new computer and website to support the growing organization. She entered – and won – a contest by Tetley Tea, which was recognizing people who give back to the community with $15,000 in funding.

“There is no way I would have been able to afford a new computer and a new website on my own, and I’m so grateful for that support,” said Armstrong.

As for future plans, Armstrong says she would love to get to a point where A Work of Heart is all she does, but realizes that’s a few years away.

“For now, I can do something I love, which is art, and I can help the people I love, which are the people of Kenya.”