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February 2013

Entries from January 2013

Toto, We're not in Kansas Anymore

I have to remind myself every now and then that I am no longer in Texas, and that I am not Kenyan. No matter how comfortable I am here, no matter how much Swahili I know, I am still amazing to look at. I am still the outsider.

Coming from the melting pot of the world, The U.S. of A., I grew up accustomed to diversity. In fact the more diverse a community the better, it's the American way. Churches are of course an exception, those groups are made up of people who look alike, talk alike, live alike, and believe alike. The majority of Kenyans grew up in communities where everyone looks alike, all speak the same language, vote for the same politicians, practice the same religion.

In other words a big white man with an awesome beard is an amazing site. Which explains the gasps, laughs, outbursts, and staring as I walked to town this morning.


Class 8 Textbooks

Remember when I talked about paying the girl’s school fees? I mentioned that from time to time little things pop up, like mock exam fees, Saturday school fee, milk, and text books. Actually the text books weren’t so little. I spent 24,480 KES ($279 U.S.) on the class 8 books.

 

 

class 8 books

Ooops, I see Kate already posted about the books. Suppose I need to be reading my own blog.


We made it through January!

Whew!

I just want to say thank you to everyone who helps us each month financially and supports our orphan care project.

This month, we were able to pay school fees for all our orphans-no-more, buy each daughter a track suit, and get their text books for school. (That's right, the school doesn't proved text books!)

Plus, some friends donated new back packs, and we were able to buy the girls school supplies, and still manage to pay rent, buy food, and even help some folks along the way!

January is a busy month, and as we reach the end of it, we are glad we were able to pull it off without too much stress.

Again, the love from you towards these orphans-no-more is so sweet. I love being able to give these girls a stable, loving environment. Thank you so much for being involved and making it possible!

 


Mercy's Story

It's been a while since we focused on the 'Why's of helping orphans in Africa. I was going to tell you the whys, but today I got a letter from one of my orphan-no-more daughters who wrote in length of her past. I knew the story already, but it made me cry nonetheless, and it can shed a little light on the 'why we do what we do.'

The pain of orphans in Kenya is a truth that for years, while living in the States, I ignored, until one day, I realized that I, Kate Ellen Brooks, could make a difference just by offering the one thing I was good at. Just being a Mom.

Here's her story in her own handwriting. Start reading below the drawing: *Also NOTE that Kifafa means epilepsy in English.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Happy Anniversary!!

I can remember being so nervous about how my kids would adjust to life in Africa. Would they love it? Hate it? Hate me for taking them away from their 'home country?'

As we stepped off the plane in Nairobi, juggled all our luggage, and struggled to find our way to Nakuru 8 years ago on this day, we had no idea that Kenya would be so favorable to our children.

The first thing the kids noticed was that animals were EVERYWHERE. Andrew was the bold, big brother at age 6, to his two younger sisters Makena 4, and Butterfly 1. He and his sisters loved Nakuru the moment they stepped foot on her soil.

We've adapted, adjusted, and pressed on following dreams and passions as they come. We do what we feel led to do, and help folks as we can. It's a scary life, living day to day helping people, but it's so rewarding, and we've grown to love it.

Thank you to all the folks who have helped us along this journey. Some of you met us along the way, and some of you were supporting us from the very beginning. It's been a wonderful ride.

Here's to the future of A Future and a Hope!!


It's the Little Things

It does not take much to make a child happy, or at least our children. This past Christmas we were given cash as a gift for the orphan-no more girls. The intent being that we buy them track suits to use on p.e. day at school. (Yes, they only do p.e. once a week at the girl's school. ) We bought the track suits, and today was the first day everyone was able to wear them to school.

The girls were excited and happy. So ramped up that there were not any complaints when we were a few minutes late due to Andrew and I having to push start the van. Thankfully I parked on a slight incline.

The little things make a big difference. Put out of your mind the thought that you cannot due anything just because what is in your hands is small.


Asante

A couple of days ago I paid the girl's school fees. I wanted to take a moment and say asante, which means thank you in Swahili, to those of you who have given toward our work. Keeping the girls in school is one big way we are providing a hopeful future for them.

Why do we pay for school, when the government provides free education? Mostly because the free education is not a reality. The teachers who run those government schools create fees all the time, or request money for things like desks, books, and anything else they can think of. Most of our girls had missed a lot of school before coming to live with us. We took them to the nearest public school, but they did not score high enough on the placement exam to secure a spot.

Right now the school fees are 6,500 KES per term, per child, of which there are 9 children, three terms a year. That is approximately $80 U.S. dollars per child, so $713 per term (depending on the exchange rate). Not bad at all. Though that does not include books, uniforms, exams, remedial classes on Saturday, and other small things that creep up on us.

Once again thank you to those who gave, you have ensured that these children remain in school.

receipts

 


Cooking for a Big Family

It all starts with 38 tomatoes.

38 tomatoes

If you learned to count tomatoes in kindergarten you might have noticed I have 31 tomatoes here, which if you carry the 2, subtract the square root, and estimate the x, you quickly realize that I am short 7 red juicy tomatoes. Which is fine. Cooking is not science, so fudging on the numbers is perfectly fine, even expected.

Next up we take the skins off the tomatoes. I first boil them in water, not milk.

tomatoes in pot

Why not just buy canned tomatoes? Canned food is expensive here in Kenya. Besides this way I get fresh and mostly organic produce.

While those are in the pot doing their business I cut up onions and mince garlic.

onions and garlic

If your onion has sprouted, teach it a lesson by chopping it up last. In the end the tears are worth it, and you have tasty onions and garlic ready to go in the pot.

chopped onion and garlic  

By now the skins on the tomatoes look loose and have started breaking. Take them out, drain the water, and peel away. I do this under running cold water, because let’s face it, tomatoes that have just been taken out of boiling hot water will burn your fingers, and possibly other body parts as well.

peeling the tomatoes

What kind of chili would it be without meat? Vegetarian chili you say? I say that chili without meat is not chili, it’s vegetable stew.

ground meat

The great thing about chili is that you can throw in leftovers. I cooked the meat in leftover garlic butter. Heaven.

While the meat is cooking I chop up the tomatoes.

chopping tomatoes

One of Kate’s friends sent this handy little machine. She has the best friends. Who am I kidding? She has all the friends.

At some point the onions and garlic need to be added to the cooking meat.

adding onions and garlic

Remember what I said about the leftovers? Well here are some beans, salsa, and pureed salsa to add.

leftovers

Perfect time to add the chopped up tomatoes and all the seasonings. I put in : cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, tobassco sauce, sugar (which was skipped today cause I couldn’t find any,) and I think that’s it.  

seasonings

Stir till it looks like chili.

chili   

Simmer for 30 minutes.

timer

And that’s how you cook chili for 16 hungry people. Actually since 14 of those people are girls we need more food, so we will cook some rice to go with it.


Community Brainstorming Session

light bulb  We need your help. Last year we purchased almost 12 acres of land that will enable us to house and feed more children and other needy people. This year we will be working on developing the land, which means we will be talking about it a lot. So much in fact that we need a name for it.

I’m tired of calling it the new property, but can’t think of anything catchy to name it. That’s where you guys come in. Let’s pool our creativity and come up with something to call this piece of land, I mean besides this piece of land.

The name should not include our name, Brooks, but otherwise throw whatever you think up our way. You can comment here on this post, the Facebook page, via email, or however you can manage to reach us. After a few days we will narrow it down to a few and do some kind of voting or arbitrarily choose one.


Baby Steps

I have to keep reminding myself to take baby steps when thinking about developing 12 acres of land. The challenges are immense. The biggest being financial. It will take a good amount of money to build. Not too bad in and of itself, but add that need onto our current needs. Feeding the kids, housing, school fees due next week, and all the little things that creep in here and there. Lack of experience is also an obstacle in our development plans. We simply have never created space to house needy people and grow food for them/us. Good thing we learn fast and have a broad community (you guys) where we can pool ideas and advice.

Baby steps. Let's start with finishing the fence and driveway.