We are currently working on a new biographical page and thought you might enjoy what we have so far. Keep in mind this is not the final draft, we will add some pictures and possible videos, but it gives you a good overview of our lives.
Welcome to our blog. Stick around for awhile, and feel free to contact us with any questions.
Thanks for stopping by our little corner of the web. My name is Johnny Brooks, and together with my wife, Kate, live in Kasambara, Kenya. We moved to Kenya in January 2005 with our children from Texas and have been enjoying the adventure ever since.
We are working towards providing hopeful futures to orphaned and/or abandoned children. The sheer number of needy children in Kenya is overwhelming, so we decided to put the big number on the back burner and help the ones we could. Nine girls moved in with us a little more than eight years ago. They have lived with us as family ever since. Our basic orphan care philosophy is that by replacing the missing family parts of their lives we can provide them with hopeful futures. Years later we are still connected as a family, and all nine girls have more chance to become productive parts of society.
Fifteen children, nine Kenyan orphans and six biological children, are more than enough for any family. Yet we still want to provide for more and more children. To that end we are expanding our efforts to keep children in school. Unfortunately here in Kenya school is not free. There are a myriad of fees, uniforms, books, and other expenses that have to be paid. If you fail to pay the lunch fee, for example, then you are sent home and not allowed to continue learning. We are paying lunch fees for students so that they can stay in school, and at least eat one meal for that day. This way we can keep needy children on the path to futures with hope.
We also believe that agriculture is a way that more orphans can be cared for. To that end three years ago we purchased nearly twelve acres of land in Kasambara. The main goal being to learn farming methods, produce food for ourselves, and then use any excess for relief in needy families. We call our farm, The Shire. We now live on The Shire and love it. The learning process for farming is time consuming, and requires a lot of trial and error, but we are well on the way to achieving our goals of producing food for us and others.
Kate is also expanded the project to include educating women and girls on reproductive health and dealing with menstruation. Child birth is dear to Kate and she is quite passionate about getting information into pregnant women's hands here in Kenya.
That is us in a nut shell. Follow us on Facebook to get a more day in day out glimpse of our lives:
There is this cute little boy that lives down the road from us. I am guessing he is maybe two years old. Anytime he hears the car, which being a LandRover is audible from quite a distance, he runs to the road and waves with as much vigor as he can muster. I have never heard him say anything (in Kenya is is common for children to shout "How are you" at passing white people) he just waves and smiles. I try to give him a worthy wave in return, and generally if anyone is in the car with me they will lean out the window and say hi.
I have never actually stopped to say hi. That actually might scare him and mess up a good thing. Little guys like him are one of the great things about living out of the city and in a smaller village. Kasambara does not have a busy road, which makes it easier to wave at a little boy on the side of the road. Plus the road is so terrible that one is forced to travel at a measly pace which makes it harder to miss cute kids on the side of the road.
Having now lived in Kasambara for more than two years I do not think I could go back to living in a city. I mean not if I have a say so in it. We have less noise, people, and bills cluttering up our lives. Which creates more space for us to be with the children and each other. A less busy space.
Honestly though when I stop and think about it our lives are not less busy, in fact we generally have much to do, but the excess noise is less and that helps generate a more relaxing atmosphere to live in making the work more enjoyable and less like work.
Creating the farm system takes up much of my time and energy. Not necessarily with the labor part, but just learning about farming. There is a lot of information out there and a lot of people willing to sell you their interpretation on that information. Processing data on farming methods has begun to take up bigger and bigger pieces of my days.
At the moment the farm is not producing very much food, though what we do grow and raise is delicious, however the infrastructure and development necessary for the future is going in. Some of what we have done:
- Some fencing, including creating paddocks for cows and horses
- Building a small hut for guests. This hut recently had a toilet added on to it.
- Building a house out of mud. This is our home, which is powered by solar energy and now has a hot shower (also solar powered)
- Building stalls for cows and horses
- Building two pig sties
- Building a rabbit enclosure
- Building a small chicken coop
- Planting lots and lots of trees
Now a list of what we would like to get done before the end of this year:
- Slaughtering house (not really a house but space to be able to butcher animals cleanly and more easily.)
- More fencing. In fact we would like to complete fencing of the whole property
- Planting lots and lots of trees.
It is only September, there is still plenty of year left.
It seems that keeping up with our blog can be a bit redundant with all of the social media stuff we are posting out there. I hope that there are a few of you still popping in here from time to time.
I forget sometimes to sit still long enough to write blogs and update everyone on things going on.
In case you don't follow us on Facebook, some up coming events include me (Kate) trying to attend an accredited childbirth education course in Nairobi.
The course takes place 26th of September through 30th and costs $500. I need transport there and back, too.
I hear it is well worth my time. I will receive a certificate as well as amazing tools to help me educate women: a model pelvis, placenta, doll, and umbilical cord, plus a syllabus for teaching women.
I haven't been away from my kids for any length of time, so this shall prove interesting. Of course baby Starlette will be with me!
This is the text of our recent newsletter, which if you are not currently receiving please subscribe. The video in this post I created several days before the newsletter was written, but it goes along with it well.
The World Is Not O.K. Right Now.
We have been reading about the shootings in the U.S. today, have read about the recent terror attack in Istanbul, and on and on and on. Houston, we have a problem.
I spent most of today mowing grass and weeding around our baby fruit trees. Plenty of time to ponder on the world and the dire straits we find ourselves in. There was plenty of brooding time, lots of chances to become down and disheartened. Ample opportunity for the total lack of control I have over any of this to grab me by the neck.
Yet I did not spend time dwelling on this negativity. I am staying informed, but I am not allowing it to dominate me. You see, I think I have found a solution for what ails us. We need more good people. We need good people to stop watching the news and to go out and do something. We need the good ones to show a better way. Violence begets violence. Love begets love, Peace begets peace.
It is not easy, and honestly does not always thwart the violence. We took in orphaned and abandoned girls here in Kenya. Embraced them whole heartedly. Our biological children adopted them as sisters and learned the new girls language to help them feel at home. We hugged, kissed, disciplined, and tried to show the love of God to them. It worked, is working. Though not perfectly. A couple of the girls have rejected our embrace and chosen other paths. However the good that has been done outweighs any of the bad.
These girls, the majority of whom are now adults (though still in school as they missed much in the early years,) are good people. They will not take up sniper positions and shoot at some just because they are different than they are. Our girls will not hurt/kill someone they have power over. They are good.
This is the solution. We need more good people.
We can make good people. It takes effort, love, and lots and lots and lots of time.
Yipee! It is raining here in Kasambara, Kenya. In fact as I type this it is raining. The grass has already turned green again, and the trees are soaking up water. Hopefully the trees we have planted can do a lot of growing this rainy season so they will be strong enough to survive the dry season.
Speaking of rain we have a bit of an issue with our roof. The rain comes down from the hill with the wind sideways, and hits our house in such a way that it comes inside. Well it mists inside anyway. We have a plan to fix it, and with help from our friends over at Child2Child we will soon have a price on materials.
Check out the two videos below. The first is Kate showing the rain in the house, and the second is me showing where we will stop the rain from coming inside the house.
Unfortunately it only drizzled. It has sprinkled a few times in the past week, but we are still waiting those "tank filling" heavy rains.