HOW IT ALL STARTED
Kimmy Chedel first traveled to South Africa in 1997, while working in Emerging Markets sales for Chase Manhattan Bank in New York City.
On this business trip, Kimmy fell in love with the people, the landscape and the magnificent wildlife in South Africa. It became her dream to return one day with her family.
A LIFE CHANGING EXPERIENCE
Kimmy’s husband, Frank Doyle, also an investment banker, was tragically killed on September 11, 2001 in the terrorist attack that brought down the World Trade Center Towers. Kimmy created Team Frank to honor her late husband, and to keep the spirit of Frank alive for their two children, who lost their father as mere toddlers.
In 2014, Kimmy finally returned to South Africa with her two children, Garrett and Zoë. who were then teenagers. This first return trip to Africa was a life changing experience, giving Kimmy and her children direction and purpose for the Team Frank legacy. Upon visiting Alexandra Township, South Africa with a local guide/historian (“Spear of the Nation”), Robin Binckes, they were overwhelmed by the extreme poverty. While in Johannesburg, Kimmy picked up a book in a local bookstore; The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person can create extraordinary change by Adam Braun. Braun traveled all over the world and asked impoverished children what they would wish for if they could wish for anything, and most said “a pencil.” Thereafter, as Kimmy recounted to Bill Brownstein of the Montreal Gazette, “We did just that at an orphanage in Kenya, and the children were so appreciative. It was so moving.” We realized that our family, and Team Frank could make a difference, one step at a time.
Kimmy and her family and other Team Frank members returned to Africa, on subsequent missions to Kenya, Rwanda and South Africa to donate school supplies, clothing and soccer balls to remote communities. A visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Rwanda, and experiencing the resiliency of the Rwandan people, further impacted Kimmy and her children to commit to making even more of a difference in the lives of the young children they met. In June 2018, Team Frank Africa built their first preschool in Welverdiend, South Africa, complete with a kitchen, a playground, and environmentally friendly sanitary facilities. The government provides a teacher and funding to feed the children.
Team Frank Africa is the next chapter of a story which began in New York City with a terrible tragedy and loss, and now brings great hope and opportunities to very young children in some of Africa’s most poor and remote regions.