Sunday, September 26, 2010

Returning home

It was really unfortunate that I wasn't able to blog from Kenya our last 2 days there. So many wonderful things happened. After the school was demolished in December, a lot of looting took place. Textbooks expecially were taken and sold on the black market. Previous to the demolishion, Humble Hearts had enough textbooks for every 2 students to share one set. While that certainly doesn't measure up to US standards, that is a wonderful ratio for Kenya. The children and teachers were thrilled. Sadly, after the demolishion, the ratios change to every 3-6 students sharing one set of text books. Because of a generous donation, we were able to replace enough textbooks that again every 2 students are sharing one set.

Another very generous donation of more than $500 was given while we were in Kenya. This donation in part was used to purchase food for the children of Humble Hearts. Enough flour, beans and rice were purchased to last almost 2 weeks. It's such a wonderful relief to know the staff doesn't have to worry about these items after we left. Both of these donations will be matched by 50% and many more wonderful things will soon be done at the school.

We were fortunate to be able to meet with Muscort, the director of the Dagoretti Youth Centre, during our trip. He is such a kind and gentle man with a huge heart for the children of his school. With very little outside support, the Dagoretti school struggles every day to pay teachers and provide supplies for the students. We were thrilled to be able to give him backpacks, pencils, pens, and money to pay the teachers a little something this month.

My daughter had a birthday party last night and received dozens of silly bands. It's amazing to me how popular these have become so quickly. Millions of dollars are being spent and stores are selling out of them as soon as shipments arrive. As I watched her excitiment in opening these, I couldn't help but think that if each of us simply donated the cost of a package of silly bands to the Humble Hearts school, the same joy would be brought to these children as was brought to my daughter and the amount needed to receive the full matching donation would quickly be raised.

Will you consider donating to Humble Hearts? Even a small amount, such as $5, will completely change a child's life.

We've begun posting pictures on Facebook of this great trip. Please look through them and see the amazing difference your support is making for these children. They may live half-way around the world, but the laugh the same, cry the same, and learn the same as our children. Your support of them is helping them every day to grow and flurish as our own children do.

Grateful beyond words,


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Saturday, a day of rest?

Saturday in Kenya really is considered a day of rest….well, technically. But as you drive around town and see as many cars as normal on the roads and all the people walking to and from jobs, you wonder when they really do rest. We were fortunate to take the day off from working and spend time at the local market. The market is always and interesting place and each year I find something new. While purchasing wonderful items of our auction and website, I couldn’t help but think about all of our great supporters who will likely see these things online and help the children with their generosity. It’s always amazing to me that a scarf or a gourd bowl can make such a difference in children’s lives.

We were honored today to finally get the chance to meet two young men Angel Covers has been supporting for some time. Charles is 21 years of age, and while I’ve had the joy of knowing him through others in Kenya and via email, we’ve never had the chance to meet until today. Angel Covers supported Charles through secondary school and is now supporting him in his dream to become a mechanical engineer. Charles attends the University of Nairobi and will begin his second of 5 years of study in October. His grades are high and his attitude is nothing but positive. He has big dreams of finishing college and getting his MBA as well. Charles is receiving a full scholarship for his tuition due to his hard work and dedication. Angel Covers is currently helping with costs of books, room and board, and living expenses. We are in desperate need of a sponsor for Charles, so if you’re interested, please contact me right away at

Julius is 29 years old and finished high school in 1998. Since then he’s been dreaming about being able to attend medical school and open a clinic in his home village of 15,000 people. Currently this clinic has no medical care available and villagers must walk more than 2 hours to the closest doctor. Julius has finished his 3 years of studies and is now almost completed a full year of internship. He loves working with children and is considering spending a week at Humble Hearts in October to help treat children there. Julius has 3 wonderful sponsors who have completely changed his life and the lives of those in his village. His eyes were teary when he talked about his sponsors, gave me individual gifts for them, and tried to thank us for everything given to him. He is a gentle man with a huge heart who feels he will never be able to repay his sponsors for all their support.

We were thrilled with Charles and Julius wanted to spend time with us at the Bomas of Kenya, seeing the show and the examples of traditional Kenyan villages. The dances are always beautiful and spending extra time with them was an unexpected bonus. After an exhausting day, it’s always nice to be back in our rooms relaxing, but even better to be able to see first-hand what a difference our work is making in people’s lives. Days don’t get much better than that.


Friday, September 17, 2010

As I write this, it’s Friday evening in Kenya and almost time for bed. So much has been done in the past 2 days it’s hard to describe it all. Thursday we once again worked all day; much painting was finished, even more pictures were taken, and information was gathered about costs of future projects. The wall, which will protect children from falling from the second floor classrooms to the first floor laundry and bathroom area, has begun being constructed. Stones were delivered and the process of shaping them (by hand) into the correct size began. The beds are taking shape and just seem to be looking for children to sleep in them.

With each passing day, the children are less and less shy and asking more and more to have their picture taken. As we are working, we see little hand waving at us from around the corner, or little giggles as they look and run away. Most of the items we brought have been given to the children also. So many are using new pencils and pens, and unfortunately even a few of the band-aids have already been used. The list of items we brought is very long but included are 149 water bottles, 59 backpacks, folders, hundreds of pencils, pens, colored pencils, and markers, rulers, vitamins (also passed out today) soccer balls, graphing calculators, scientific calculators, loads of first-aid supplies, clothing, glasses, hygiene items and of course toys. This is by no means a complete list of all that was brought, but it gives you a better idea why it can take hours to distribute everything when close to 230 pounds of donations were brought.

Today, there was less work and more fun. While we did work on a new Humble Hearts Database today, and had a session with the teachers about new ideas for teaching math, we also were able to have lots of fun with all of the kids. Angel Covers hired circus performers to come to the school and perform a magic show, acrobatics, and a comedy show for the children. To here almost 140 kids in the same room laughing uncontrollably was completely heart-warming. Most of the children had never seen acts such as these and watching their faces light up could not have been more fun for us. Additionally, we were treated to seventh graders and high school girls performing for us at the end of the day. We were thrilled to also be able to honor the teachers and staff at the school with a pendant that says “Humble Hearts Giving the Deaf a Voice”. The teachers and staff of Humble Hearts work day and night to provide for these children and deserve any small amount of recognition we can give them.

Tomorrow we will take the day off from Humble Hearts and go to the market place to purchase items for this years’ Gift From The World auction, coming in November. We will also have the joy of meeting with Charles, a young man Angel Covers is sending to University, and Julius, a young man attending nursing school and sponsored by three dedicated Angel Covers supporters.

Sadly, loading pictures has not been possible given the internet connection speeds here, but I promise many will be available when we return to the US. Until then, know your support is giving these children a wonderful education and the hope of a brighter future.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thursday Sept. 16 in Kenya

Yesterday was a very busy day at Humble Hearts. After coming to the school, painting and picture taking quickly began. With so many new classrooms there is painting that is needed everywhere. Purple is the school color at Humble Hearts, so the top of the outside tin walls was painted light purple and the bottom was painted a darker purple. Today a very dark purple stripe will be painted down the middle. Even without the strip, the outsides of the classrooms look so much more cheerful! No more can you see shiny metal or rust. Instead, the outside walls are beautiful purple for everyone to see.

Rock, sand, cement, and iron also arrived yesterday. The new concrete wall to protect the children from falling from the second floor to the first floor shower area is very important and construction began today. Construction on the new beds also began today. This will be a huge blessing for so many children sleeping on the cold, hard concrete floor. While they have mattresses, they are simply foam and don’t protect the children well from the hard cold floors.

We also began taking pictures of the sponsored kids yesterday and almost finished today. The children are always so excited to see us and especially to have their pictures taken. Generally, the only time the children of Humble Hearts is when I come so seeing themselves on camera is a special treat.

We were also treated to a special treat last night. Dinner at Beatrice’s mother’s home is always a wonderful experience in Kenyan food. Dinner of chicken stew, chapatti, ugali, mokimo, and beef. Sitting in her living room talking about the differences and similarities in cultures is always a wonderful experience and we are so grateful for her hospitality.

Tonight we have the opportunity to meet with 2 people who want to start a math club as well as start an accounting program at Humble Hearts. It’s exciting to have these conversations and hope that we are able to work out the details for the children.

Tomorrow will also be a full day as we hire circus performers for the children, get to enjoy their performances from the national competition, and buy food for the school. Updates will come again soon. In the meantime, thank you all for your continued support!!!


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Day 1 1/2

Yes, that’s a strange title, but since I tried to post a blog about yesterday earlier and it didn’t work and we are now most of the way through day 2, it seemed appropriate.

Yesterday we started off our time here by going to the old sight of Humble Hearts. It was incredibly sad to see where Humble Hearts once stood and know that so many families lost so much. There are now much fewer businesses and home in the area and countless lives have been effected for, what seems like, no reason at all. The pipeline (the apparent cause of the bulldozing) has never been put in and some families have rebuilt.

On the other hand, seeing the new Angel Cottage completed was truly uplifting. I had tears in my eyes when I saw the beautiful walls full of names of so many who cared so greatly about this project. To see the children running through the buildings knowing they are safe from cars, the train, or other dangers was heart-warming. Hearing that the high school children are now able to study after dark because they have electricity gives us all hope that they will be able to break the cycle of poverty they were born into.

Moving Humble Hearts to the Angel Cottage sight was a difficult decision but I know it was the right one. Sadly, the population of the school has dropped as too many children aren’t able to make the 25 min. drive to the new location. Fortunately though, because Angel Cottage is so large, many of the children have moved into the new home and are continuing to attend school. Each of the 38 deaf children have his/her own bed, while some of the hearing children are either sleeping 2 per bed or are sleeping on the floor. Sadly, most of the textbooks were lost in the demolition, so rather than 2 children sharing one set of textbooks, there are now 3-6 children sharing one set. While the school has come very far in the last 9 months, there is still a long way to go.

Just before leaving for Kenya, I announced that we were once again honored with a matching donation opportunity for Humble Hearts. We need to raise $10,000, which will then be matched by 50% with $5,000. As I was preparing to leave, we received a wonderful donation of $500 for Humble Hearts, which because of the match, has now turned in to $750. With this $750 we have already started making 4 new 3 bunk beds and building a wall on the second floor of the dorms so the children don’t fall into the girls’ shower area.

Please consider making a donation to these great kids! Just go to and know that your donation will automatically increase by 50%. Unfortunately I’m having a difficult time posting pictures, but I will keep trying. The kids are so beautiful and so is the school. Your support throughout the years has changed their lives. You have given them hope of a better future.
So very grateful in Kenya!


Friday, September 10, 2010

Just 2 more days

In just 2 short days, I'll be boarding a plane for the long trip to Kenya. This is my 5th trip, so the excitement of traveling to Africa and the concerns about being in a 3rd world country have worn off. But, the excitement of seeing the children of Humble Hearts never goes away. There have been major changes in the school in the past year; Angel Cottage was completed, Humble Hearts was tragically bull-dozed, and the entire school was moved to the sight of Angel Cottage. While I've seen hundreds of pictures, seeing all the changes in person will not only be exciting, but I'm sure will also show me the continued positive spirit of all of the teachers and students at this wonderful school.

Once again this year, we have been given an amazing opportunity. An anonymous donor has once again agreed to match any and all donations for Humble Hearts and Angel Cottage by 50% up to $10,000 in donations. This exciting news came just days after I learned that a new home was opened for the children who now live too far from Humble Hearts to travel each day. Sadly I also learned that these children are sleeping on the hard concrete floor of this home. Funds weren't available to purchase items needed for the house, but the children wanted to attend school so badly, they agreed to live with nothing in order to go to school.

While I'm in Kenya, I'll be posting many blogs and pictures describing our work. As you read these descriptions and see the pictures, please remember this matching donation opportunity. Please remember that children are sleeping on concrete in their clothes, without blankets or pillows. Please remember to order your holiday cards made by these hard-working children, because profits from these cards will also be matched.

It has been an honor to be so deeply involved in the Humble Hearts School for the past 6 years. The changes we have seen in the lives of the children have been extraordinary. Thank you for your help showing these children their potential.

Continuously Grateful,


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Mama's Wish - Back To School

As I sent my kids off to their first day of school this morning, I couldn't help thinking of all our Mama's Wish students who are also returning to school. For each of these girls the simple act of going to school is truly a dream come true and would not be possible without the generous support from their sponsors. I am so proud of all of our Mama's Wish students and how far they have come. But my thoughts also turn to all the girls in the very remote, impoverished villages of QingHai province that may never get this opportunity, and how different their futures will be.

"Without your help, it wouldn't be possible to attend school. The only options I would have were to do labor at home or be married out. I am most grateful to you for you have changed my destiny. Thank you for your kind heart." ~Nan

For as little as $11 a month ($130 yr) you too can sponsor a Mama's Wish student and give her the opportunity to attend high school. We have many new girls that currently need sponsors and I'd love to match them ASAP so they too will have the chance to attend school. As a sponsor you will receive letters and photos from your student and have the opportunity to write back to her if you'd like.

As you send your kids back to school, please take moment to consider giving one of these bright girls this same precious opportunity.

"Wishing you every day happy!"

Karen MacNair
Mama's Wish Sponsorship Coordinator