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February 2012

Entries from January 2012

Last minute!

It is 9 pm. I am in the classroom aka my office. Two of my older orphans-no-more just walked in and asked, “Mommy, do you have any shirts we can use for PE tomorrow in your closet?”

“What happened to YOUR PE shirts?” I enquire.

“Dorkus, (our ex-house cleaner) gave them away.”

“So what do you want me to do? Go to Tusky’s, which is closed, or the uniform shop, which is also closed and get you both shirts before tomorrow morning? How long have you known you needed shirts? When did you find out this information?”

“Mary told us a week ago.”

I stress, “So you’ve known for a WEEK that you needed yellow PE shirts, but you decided to wait until 9 pm the night before to tell me this?

No response.

“All of my shirts have flowers or stripes. I don’t have a yellow shirt, so what do you want me to do exactly?”

No response.

“If you had told me on the weekend, I could have gotten you some, and I’ll gladly get you each one before PE next week, but what are you going to wear tomorrow?”

Silence.

Then the silence is broken with, “Sarah Muthoni told us you were giving all the money away to help needy people this weekend.”

So are these girls really thinking that I DON’T help them when I am helping others? And how did Sarah know what we were doing? I told her that I ‘Help needy people every day without her knowledge. That doesn’t keep me from meeting their needs as well.’

I am really wondering what is going through these girls’ heads. This is one of many times they procrastinate beyond help. And some of the other cases have been recent as well. But those tales will be shared another time.

In the mean time, I wished them luck with their PE uniforms for tomorrow!

Good night, y’all. I’ll be shopping for PE shirts tomorrow!

PSS
Even this MORNING as they were getting ready for their first day of PE at school, one of the girls asked me for a shirt. Yeah, I keep PE uniforms stored in my closet… LOL.


Pots and Pans and a New Adventure…

Leah Nyambura is my friend. She helps me in my home cooking meals along side me, and relieving me when I’m busy teaching school. She comes after breakfast and leaves before dinner, so don’t worry, she’s not over worked. ;)

However, she suffers with me when we cook because our pots and pans are falling apart, literally. Most of my pots are missing handles, have no coating on them any more, and are even rusting.IMG_0058 See?

I recently bought a frying pan from our best supermarket only to have the handle pop off within a month’s time. So the dilemma came. Where am I going to find good pots, and HOW can I afford them? I’ll need about $500 to replace what I need…

Well, my little Makena sent an email to her grandparents without my knowing it, and I have some GREAT news! My folks are buying me new pots and pans!

However, WHERE to get them was still an issue. Even more good news… A Nakumatt opened up less than a month ago right here in Nakuru. (Funny how it started in Nakuru years ago, was named after Nakuru, then disappeared from Nakuru, and now has returned probably 20 times larger than it was years before.)

Nakumatt is so big, it has escalators. And if you want a good laugh, it’s hilarious to watch local folks step on them for the first time or even the fifth time. They even have a ‘soldier’ there to help folks.

Anyway, back to Leah, my cooking buddy… She has never been inside such a shopping market, so this Thursday, I’m taking her with me to go buy POTS!! She is going to flip when she goes in that store. This will definitely be a new adventure for her.

So thank you Mom and Dad for the money to buy pots and pans. And for those of you who’d like to help me get some of the more small items… I have a wish list on Amazon.com you can check out.

Many many thanks to those who help us feed so many. We prep between our two orphan-care projects over 100 meals a day!

~Kate Brooks


Where Did It All Go?

Let’s take a look at how we spent the money donated last year: (This does not include the money Lonnie spent building the nursery school, nor the money we have used for the boy’s home. I simply have not had a chance to go through their paperwork and computerize it yet. Also keep in mind that Kenya is still very much a cash society, and many of the places we buy food from are kiosks, or some guy standing on the side of the road. We don’t get many receipts, read any, from those retailers. So the following is not 100% accurate, but as close as I can get it. Disclaimer done, on with the lists and charts.)

 

 

The largest expense of the year for us was food.

    • 1,270,770.00 KES or at current exchange rates $14,598 U.S. dollars

That’s a lot of food! This was 29% of all the money we spent for the year. Prices were high last year, hopefully they will at least stop rising this year. That’s 3 meals a day for 20 people plus whomever else happens to be at the house, 7 days a week, 365 days.

Needless to say I’m looking at ways to reduce our grocery bill. Right now we are looking for farmers that we can buy direct from, and thereby cut out the middlemen. We could also use another freezer to help in buying more meat at wholesale.

 

Next category is household expenses. This includes our cook and housekeeper, cleaning supplies, repairs, any furnishings, and our chickens.

    • 498,901.00 KES or 5,731.20 USD

Living with all these children equals a lot of messes! We spent roughly 11% cleaning and cooking up after everyone. We also built a chicken coop, bought wood to build Andrew a bed, and cultivated a little more than 2 acres. (Not our 2 acres. We have a little co-op thing going on with the owner.)

 

Next up is rent.

    • 434,250.00 KES or 4,976.97 USD

Thankfully Ali owns his own place, so we do not have to rent a place for the boy’s home. I’m also thankful that Kate was able to find a big house in a nice neighborhood for a really good price. (FYI we live with the orphan no more girls. All in the same house. We have attempted to create family for them. One of the side effects of this is less money outgoing to rent. Since we only have one house instead of two.)

 

We spent 9% of all incoming funds on relief efforts in the community.

    • 402,436.00 KES or 4,612.45 USD

We buy food, medicines, clothes, and whatever else folks need. These are usually severely impoverished families, usually single moms or grandmothers, and more often than not sick.

Actually this category is hard for me to be accurate with. So many times I make these decisions while out and about, or after a hurried phone conversation or text message, and simply fail to log where the money went. Or I’ll set off with money for something else and get sidetracked by someone in need.

Also bare in mind that this is not inclusive of any money designated for Ben and this work in the community. He keeps his own records, and just like the boys home’s paperwork I have not entered the data yet. This does not include the orphan-care.

 

What’s next? How about the 4.1% we spent on vehicle maintenance.

    • 182,020 KES or 2,084.28 USD

We have old vehicles, and well the older they are the more likely something will need to be repaired or replaced. Cars are expensive in Kenya, and I just don’t see us buying a newer one anytime soon.

 

We spent 3.7% on electricity.

    • 164,769 KES or 1,886.33 USD

 

School Fees, 3.5%

    • 154,000 KES or 1,763.02 USD

One of our girls was out of school last year, but has returned this month. The school they are attending is nice, but not so nice as to be exorbitantly expensive.

Our biological children are homeschooled, and some of their grandparents help buy books for them. Thanks.

 

Eagerly awaiting the next percentage point? Me too, let’s go.

 

2.0% on transport.

    • 90,830 KES or 1,040.43 USD

Parking fees, taxis, motorcycle taxis, tuktuks (3 wheeled contraptions,) and other automobile expenses not related to repair and gasoline.

This includes any public transportation expenses, like when the girls go and visit relatives during the school holidays.

 

Here’s the 1.8% we spent on gasoline.

    • 81,968 KES or 938.92 USD

 

1.8% went to personal hygiene.

    • 81,926 KES or 938.44 USD

This is remarkably low considering that we have a house full of girls.

 

The graph is hard to read now, many smaller percentages squeezed together. Like these:

    • 1.8% on internet access
    • 1.6% on gifts for the children
    • 0.9% on customs duties for parcels
    • 0.9% on water
    • 0.8% on educational expenses not related to school fees
    • 0.8% on clothing
    • 0.8% on cell phone bills
    • 0.7% on entertainment
    • 0.6% on computer (I bought a new external hard drive and printer)
    • 0.4% on insurance for the vehicles
    • 0.4% on newspapers, magazines, and books
    • 0.4% on cooking gas
    • 0.3% on medicines for our own household
    • 0.2% on balls, swimming, and other sporty related stuff
    • 0.2% on school text books, we recycle keeping this cost down
    • 0.1% on toys

There are others, but for my sanity's sake we’ll stop here. I do from time to time order books from Amazon, download a song or two from Itunes, and buy software. Those expenses are in dollars, and I have the software set up to deal with shillings only.

You might also notice that we do not pay ourselves a salary. The project is our life, so our food, housing, entertainment, and everything else is taking care of there. When we feed the children, we are feeding ourselves.

Despite the down economy we were able to feed, school, and house all the children (and ourselves.) We fed, clothed, and took care of many people in the community. Thank you so much to all those who gave so we could give.


What We Do

I thought we could start off the New Year with a simple post about what we do here in Kenya. So here’s a bullet list:

  • Care for orphaned/abandoned children.
    • Our philosophy is to replace what these children have lost, namely family.
    • We have 9 girls that live with us.
    • We have boys as well, that live a bit down the road with a Kenyan family.
    • We do not run an orphanage, but rather attempt to pour love and family into these children.
  • We work in the wider community with impoverished, sick, lonely, addicted, and otherwise oppressed people.
    • For those with H.I.V. we have created support groups, buy medications, buy food, assist in getting access to healthcare, and whatever else may come up.
    • We can’t fix all these people’s problems, but we can help someone over a bump in the road.
    • We feed as many people as possible with whatever we may have at the moment.
    • The need is never ending.
  • This year we will expand our work with girls and young women in the sex industry.
    • I’m not sure yet exactly what that means, but I feel that it’s important that we make a more concerted effort in their lives.
  • We also work towards encouraging other Christians to reach out and care for the least of these.
    • This is through one on one sessions, seminars, Sunday morning sermons, and whatever else we can think of.

That’s it in a nutshell. Looks easy and simple in this bullet list, yet each and every one of those points can have an infinite number of little bullet points attached to it. The children have school, relative problems, health issues, emotional troubles, and on and on and on and on and on…..


Care package wishes

We love getting things in the mail, I wish you guys could see the kids faces when we have a care package. It’s a wonderful WONDERFUL thing! Thank you to those of you who send us boxes, by the way!

Things we can use or just want: 
Hormel Pepperoni 
Dried fruit (NO sugar added, please) 
Nuts of different kinds such as Pine nuts, pecans, walnuts, pistachios, etc… 
We really could use a new video camera and a small digital camera 
I would love to have some type of flea control drops for my dogs

Some other needs are: 
ANYTHING from my Amazon list: http://amzn.com/w/2T1NJ2RKZOAIE 
Mr. Clean Erasers
Electric tooth brush for Emma
dry erase markers 
Sharpies 

Flossers
SKIPBO Cards 
beef jerky 
skirts size 8, 12, 14, 16, and 5 
soap molds (I make homemade soap) 
any good family games 
1000 piece puzzles for our teens 
LED lights (lots of blackouts here) 
Head lamps 
Mp3 players (used ones?) The teens would enjoy them! 
wii games 
game cube games 
playground balls 

*Please note that we are trying to make some dietary changes. We want to eat healthier- less carbs. As much as we appreciate sweets, please do not send any candy, processed foods like Macaroni, etc.. Thank you for understanding!

Ok, that’s the featured ‘needs’ for now!

Thanks for being willing to help!

The best way to send a package is priority mail to: 
PO Box 2974 
Nakuru, Kenya 20100

THANK YOU!