Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My trip to Kenya

For those of you who followed my blogs while I was in Kenya, I have written a report on my trip, and I'm sure I left some things out. There was just so much to tell! But, feel free to read it at this link.


Since returning home, we have learned that the remaining Angel Cottage construction is fully funded. WHOOOHOOO!!! Thanks to the Vista Hermosa Foundation for this grant! We have a goal of Nov. 1 for the move in date and Beatrice is working really hard to make this happen.

Now for more good news! The kids of Angel Cottage are currently sleeping 2-3 to a bed as you all know. All of the furniture from the current home will be moved into the new home. However, there are lots of other things that are needed....more beds, tables for the dinning room, a concrete wall to provide a safe play area, etc. None of these items were included in the construction budget. But, a very generous couple has offered a matching donation for these items. For every dollar we can raise between now and Dec. 31 they will donate $.50 up to $5,000. Therefore, if we raise $10,000 for all the items needed at Angel Cottage they will donate $5,000. $15,000 will go a LONG way to buying all the things needed to truly make this a home.

Many of you do so much for these kids already. But, if there is any way you are able to help with this it would be so appreciated. Beatrice and I are putting together a complete list of items needed and their costs. I will have that posted soon. Please let all your friends and family know about these needs and the matching money.

Also, we have just put new holiday cards on the website. Profits from the sale of these cards will be matched as well, so please check them out and pass the link on. http://www.angelcovers.org/holidaycards.html I'm taking pre-orders right now and will start mailing cards as soon as they arrive to me on Oct. 7.

Thank you for all your support of Angel Covers and especially the kids of Angel Cottage and Humble Hearts. I've seen first hand how your changing lives.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The last day in Kenya....

...is always completely crazy. The list of things we have to do is very long, including taking more pictures of sponsored kids, the lunch program, going to the bank, buying more de-worming medicine and completing physicals on kids who just arrived yesterday.

Yesterday was also full of tying up loose ends. We prioritized kids who need sponsors, labeled hundreds of pictures, visited the Dagoretti School, organized, planned, and generally ran around like we were running out of time. Yesterday all of the children of HH also received eye exams and were tested for color blindness. Edward, one of the deaf boys who has also lost eye sight in one eye seems to be color blind. Poor kid! I wonder how many more obstacles he's going to have to overcome. The good news is that this week he's been wearing his glasses, but really he's only wearing them because I'm here. He is so worried about breaking them normally, that he's afraid to wear them. No amount of talking can convince him that I know he's careful and it's ok to wear them all year. I'll try again today though.

As soon as possible, I'll be writing a much more detailed report of everything we have done and found. We are all shocked that only a few kids are in need of glasses, that more aren't sick, and that only about 6 preschool kids need to be de-wormed. We assumed the numbers of kids who needed help medically would be much higher given the circumstances. Much of this week has been focused on medical issues. We are so glad to be able to have a nurse with us to talk to the girls with epilepsy and migraines about their medication. Both started taking their medications after learning how it would help and the best way to take it in order to avoid side effects. That alone has made the trip worthwhile.

The rest of this week after I return home will be full of organizing pictures, returning emails, and writing reports. Thanks to everyone who has emailed and who supports this school! You are all the greatest!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I missed a few days

It's hard to believe it's Monday already and I haven't written since Friday. Between the rolling black-outs, our schedule, and nothing opening until 2:00 on Sunday's, it's been very hard to email. Kenya is going through a severe drought right now. Because of that, electricity is in great shortage. Kenya uses a lot of hydro power to generate electricity. Without water, there is no electricity. So, most days part of the city is dark for some time. At our hotel, there is no electricity from 7am to 6pm on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Friday we were able to take the high school kids to the Angel Cottage construction and paint. Everyone worked so hard! We were able to paint 9 HUGE rooms, 2 hallways, and the toilet rooms. This is just the base coat and the next time these rooms are painted, they will be a calm, cool color the children will enjoy for many years. Additionally, today the dining room walls be start being smoothed and prepared for names on the bricks to be added. This has been a long time coming, but soon all of you who bought a brick will have your name permanently in the dining room for the kids to see for years to come.

While kids were painting, final decisions were made in order to start a tailoring school for the deaf girls. These girls will be learning to sew, will take in jobs and have income for themselves and Angel Cottage. 15% of the income from this program will go into savings accounts for these girls to use for college, starting their own business, or getting an apartment. 45% will be used to purchase materials and other needs to sustain the program, and 40% of the income will be used to support the kids at the cottage through food purchases, electricity, water, etc. At the same time, the boys will be taught carpentry and the same percentages will apply. These are exciting programs that will not only teach the children valuable skills, but will continue to make Angel Cottage a self-sufficient home.

Saturday was spent doing a little sightseeing and relaxing a little more. Sunday, we were able to go to the market, and spent the evening testing the eye sight of the children living at Angel Cottage. Fortunately, only one seems to need glasses right away. We will also be testing all of the kids at HH today for both near and far sightedness, but also for colorblindness. This is quite the undertaking, but one we know is greatly needed.

Today I will also be visiting the Dagoretti School, were we have been able to start a chicken program in the past. This program is currently the only source of consistent income for this school, and therefore vital to its survival. I'm excited to see how it's changing the lives of these 500 children.

It's going to be a full 2 days until we leave for the US tomorrow evening. As always, there is so much more to tell and never enough time. Know that all your support is completely changing the lives of these children!


Friday, September 11, 2009

Thursday in Kenya

After looking quickly through my last 2 posts, I'm come to realize just how little I'm able to tell you about what we are doing. Posting about Thursday will be no different. We started the day by taking 150 of the oldest kids to the top of the tallest building in downtown Nairobi. From there you can see all of the major landmarks, but it was too dusty to see Mt. Kenya unfortunately. We arraigned to have sodas brought all the way up for each of the kids and they truly loved seeing the city from a bird's perspective, not to mention sitting on the helipad. Thanks Chris and Lynn for supporting this!
After sending the kids back to school on the very crowded buses, we headed to the textbook center to buy more books. This is something I look forward to each year and this year we were able to buy $250 worth of next books for the Form 4 classes (12th grade), which will be starting in January. So many things are still needed for these kids, but having books is a great start.

The children also had sports day for more than 2 1/2 hours in the afternoon. Normally on Friday's, sports day involved all of the 300 children going to a field for games such as musical chairs, balloon popping, soccer, and races. All of the 300 kids wore their new shirts for sports day and it was certainly an amazing sight to see.

Seeing the joy on these kids faces all day long was a huge blessing. Below is a picture I toke on Wednesday, and certainly there are hundreds more. Unfortunately the electricity has already gone out once, so this is all I'll be able to post today. I'll do my best to post more before I leave for home.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What a day!

Having just returned from Humble Hearts today, I hardly know where to start. So much was accomplished today! Physicals were completed for all of the children, the donations were unpacked, desks were painted, food was bought, some pictures were taken of sponsored kids...not to mention the other dozens and dozens of pictures that were taken of all the activities.

The truly amazing thing today is that most of the kids seem completely healthy. It's so hard for us to believe given the conditions here, but the lunch program especially has made an enormous difference in the lives of these children. Dozens have at least one cavity. Sadly, dental care is extremely expensive here, so most people never have even had their teeth cleaned. We passed out more than 100 toothbrushes and more than 220 tubes of toothpaste today, so hopefully that will help some. As all of the data is accumulated, sponsors will receive the results of their child's physical. A few heart murmurs were detected, one child is clearly having migraines, and other has epilepsy.

The group of volunteers who are here are truly unbelievable. More has been accomplished in 2 days that I ever thought would. Tomorrow we are taking the morning to take 150 children to the top of the tallest building in Nairobi. From there they will be able to see all of the major landmarks, and if it's clear we'll be able to see Mt. Kenya.

Thanks to all who have supported this trip. I promise much more information soon! There's just so much happening each day.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Kenya Day ????

Any of you who have traveled internationally know that it's difficult to even remember what day is is sometimes. I arrived in Kenya on Monday evening and spent yesterday at the Humble Hearts school. I'm fairly sure that makes today Wednesday morning, but I wouldn't bet on it. :-)

Yesterday was spend exchanging money, visiting kids at Humble Hearts, passing out t-shirts (and they look great!) and have a ceremony for the children who preformed at the national competition in Mumbasa. There are 3 volunteers here with me, and they have long list of jobs they have started too. You know you week is packed when conversations on day 1involve how to get everything done this week.

Jill, a nurse, spent hours yesterday giving the children physicals and making health records for each of them. She has a long way to go, but just knowing that each child is getting checked for ringworm, having his/her eyes checked, and general health evaluated is a huge blessing.

Ivan has spent the last 2 days recording new biographical information for each of the unsponsored kids and taking their pictures. This is also a huge job because there are more than 200 unsponsored kids! Byron and I spent time sorting donations and today he will work on building new desks...a much needed item.

It has been great to see the new concrete floors in all the classrooms, and the addition of a class 7 room, making it easier for these children to learn.

Angel Cottage continues to be grossly over-crowded. Friday we will go to the new construction site and paint, but I can't help but wonder when it will finally be done and the children living at Angel Cottage can move into this new and beautiful home. They are simply crammed into living conditions that no one should love in. I realize that in many ways it's better than what they would have if they lived elsewhere, but that doesn't make it right. This home must be completed soon. They deserve room to run, a bed of their own, running water and electricity.

There is so much more to tell even after just one day here, but I'll save some for later. I'm hoping to be able to post pictures this week, as the new broadband system makes the internet connection much faster than it used to be, but we'll see.

Thanks to all of you for your support of HH. Every time I come, it's obvious to me what a huge difference your support is making for these children.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Kenya here I come!

In approximately 15 hours, I'll be on a plane headed to Kenya. For the first time, I'll be taking another couple with me and meeting a sponsor from Spain in Kenya. The trip is always a long one, and I always spend many hours making sure there are enough things to keep me busy on the plane during the 25 hour trip. Did I bring enough snacks, books, games, music? I certainly hope so.

But much more time is spent making sure that each and every pound of luggage is used to the best of our ability. This trip, more than 175 pounds of donations are being taking to Kenya. Everything from books, water bottles, school supplies, soap, toothpaste, shampoo, and toys are going. But the one thing I'm most excited about are the t-shirts. Two amazing friends of mine make 360 t-shirts for the children and staff of Humble Hearts....enough for everyone to have one and a few extras for kids who start school in January. These t-shirts are beautiful! Made of bright colors, the message on the shirts was designed exclusively for Angel Covers and (more importantly) the children of Humble Hearts. The message, "Humble Hearts Giving the deaf a voice" is exactly what Humble Hearts stands for. This school is changing lives by showing both the hearing and deaf that deaf children can and do have a voice; that they are as capable as any other child.

Leaving home for 10 days is always difficult, but each trip the children of Humble Hearts inspire me. They show me that the troubles of my life are so much easier than theirs. They show me that sweating the small stuff, like having enough music for a long plane trip, isn't necessary; but living to your full potential each and every day is.