a Future and a Hope

Before and After

I thought it would be fun to share a few before and after photos. More accurately these are photos from four or so years ago and photos from today. I had a had time getting the right spot on a few of them due to the tree and bush growth, but hopefully it will work out. Here they are:

Before:

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After:

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Before:

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After:

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Before:

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After:

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Before:

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After:

 


How to Donate

Kate has been busy writing posts for the blog over the past couple of weeks. Her topics range from parenting, horse therapy, to more general updates about our lives. Some really good stuff you should check out. 

This post is just a reminder of all the ways one could donate to what we are doing here in Kenya. Remember that we are two individuals who decided to pursue God outside of organized religion. We no longer have any of our own money and must raise the budget each month to continue on.

So here are the various ways one could make a donation:

Make a check out to A Future and a Hope and mail it here:

A Future and a Hope
c/o Bob Humphrey
7909 Walerga Rd STE 112-141
Antelope, CA 95843

Bob banks the checks and sends us the money without taking a cut for himself. 

 

You could use PayPal. Send to [email protected] or use this button:

 

 

There is an app called Wave which you could use to send us money. Here in Kenya we have this service called MPESA which is a mobile banking app on our phones. Using Wave you could send money within minutes directly to our phone. Pretty cool. (Use this number 0723743212)

 

Of course, you could use MoneyGram or WesternUnion. Send to Johnny Brooks in Nakuru.


Why disabled kids?

P1360152Do you have any idea what life is like for a disabled child in a country such as Kenya? Can you even begin to imagine? Not only do we not have adequate programs for the elderly, or orphans... we don't have anywhere near enough programs for children with disabilities. Lack of education about disabilities still prevail, although Kenyans are becoming more understanding in how people with disabilities fit into society. Still, in the villages and even in many towns, many folks believe in curses and witchcraft... to the point that they still think that some people have the power to actually 'kill' or damage children by cursing them.

Many pregnant women do not share their pregnancies because of fear someone will curse their unborn child.

In Kenya, disabled children are considered the lowest of the low. This is not my sentiment, obviously! I am just sharing what I know and have experienced over the last 13 1/2 years in Kenya. 

Over the years of working in the communities, we have found disabled children locked in closets never seeing the light of day, parents being too embarrassed to claim the child as their own because they will be viewed as unfavoured by God or 'cursed.'  Once you see these children who are not understood, being denied food because,

"He doesn't have the brain capacity to know how to eat," his parents explained, you just want to cry and reach out and find ways to help.

 As a mother, I cannot imagine not trying to do something. 

Over the years, we were faced with desperate parents asking us to help their disabled children. At the time, our focus was on orphans, and we had to send these precious people away with the knowledge that they at least had a parent looking after them. We took in parentless children into our family so they could live a life with a family to call their own. This was our focus and took every bit of our finances, energy, and time. It was and is difficult having so many needs out there, but I believe it is our responsibility to do what we can, even if it is small.

Now that our orphans-no-more are growing up, don't forget we still have a few still in our care, I feel as if we can begin to do more to help the needs and cries of those who have no voice. Did you know that most of our disabled riders have non-verbal autism? They may look 'normal' on the outside, but the reality is, they cannot verbally tell us how they feel apart from crying, laughing, and squealing. We do have a few who say a few words and a few who have other disabilities. With that said, our Horsepower sessions are bringing a connection between these children and their parents/carers. They are learning to communicate together through the games; and the parents and teachers of these specific children are seeing a difference. Horses don't talk, but they appear to reflect what we feel. They seem like mirrors. They also communicate and bring comfort to these children. 

I still believe orphans need help, but I feel as if I am doing what I can with those who are in my path. I would love to use our horse therapy program to connect orphaned children to their guardians as well, or to just bring hope to them. We are in the beginning stages of Horsepower. We are going to expand and grow and work with more and more children.

We are not paid to help. We do this because we choose to. As a mother, how can I not? How can I not continue to bring joy, hope, healing, and happiness to as many mothers, fathers, and needy children I meet?

 


Letting GO: a lesson learned on horseback

This week's sessions, my goal was to encourage our riders to 'LET GO' of the saddle. Many of our young riders are still not confident in their own balance. They feel the need to HOLD ON and grip the saddle with their hands.

P1350751The importance of letting go is that it encourages them to balance with the horse's movement, and it develops their core strength.

I spent some time thinking of a game that might help correct this issue, build confidence in our riders, and help them LET GO without them even noticing they had done so!

Every child likes to drive. Hand a child a steering wheel, and they can be entertained for a while: Think shopping carts at supermarkets that have car designs.

I created a 'road' with poles and gave the riders a 'steering wheel' to hold on to. This encouraged them to sit tall and DRIVE their horse without realising they had let go causing them to balance on their own in the saddle. It was a huge success!

 


Filling a Hole; how we started our horse program (p. 2 of 3)

Raising 15 kiddos isn't easy for any one, and when most of them are adopted teenage girls who speak a different language, have different cultural backgrounds, and there are no grandparents around to help babysit from time to time nor close friends to lend a hand, either, it is definitely a challenge.
 
At ali'sMany of our orphansnomore each had so many questions... questions they were too afraid to voice. They had frustration, not that we rescued them, but because they NEEDED rescuing. Life dealt them a bad hand, forcing them to be parentless, traumatised, and impoverished. I am sure that a twelve year old Kenyan girl, like one of our daughters, who takes on the role of mother and nurse as she is forced to look after her ailing mother until her death cannot understand why moving in with a large American family with white parents and cool toys is really 'great,' when all she really wants is her mom back. 
 
Our desire was to fill the void by being parents to the parentless. Orphans don't belong in an orphanage. They are lacking guardians and guidance. They lack a voice in society. We stepped in and filled that void successfully, but not without issues.
Mom issues. We had them because dad's weren't really a part of the early picture in our adopted daughter's lives. They easily 'adopted' Johnny as 'Daddy.' For me, things were much harder.mixed family
 
I guess I just assumed that by treating them like my own kids, I would ensure they could heal, they could THRIVE! The difficulty came when they didn't ACT like 'our' kids. They were distant. Language was an issue at first, but soon, we adjusted to a mixed swahili/english in the house. Still, there were huge differences. Our new daughters would not look at me. They barely spoke to me. I would try to hug them and talk to them, but they didn't respond... for years. They didn't say 'thank you,' or 'please' because they never were taught to do so. (Though they learned, eventually). :) Our ways of teaching/discipline such as 'time outs' were foreign to them.
 
I would find myself frustrated when I felt I couldn't GIVE ENOUGH, especially when I wasn't getting the response I expected. I expected them to give love back, or at least realise how far they had come and how fortunate they were. I expected gratitude, but in retrospect, how could a child who has suffered so much trauma feel grateful for their situation? No one wants to be an orphan. 
No one.
 
So many times I really thought the girls and I could use some extra help such as therapy or counseling. We looked for help, but we didn't find any qualified people to fulfill this need. We tried out one lady who professed she was a "counselor" who basically told the girls to ask us for monetary items... and it just was all wrong. Needless to say, there is a huge void in Nakuru for therapy and counselling...
 
It took YEARS to get some normalcy. The struggle was so real. There were constant battles between who was being treated better than the others... Just when things would settle, we added another orphan to the mix. The dynamic would shift, and things would get difficult. Johnny and I realised in order to keep a 'family dynamic' we had to not take in any more children into our personal home. We decided that raising the girls over the last 11 years was us giving our all and doing our part, and that we should grow into something new, bringing a future and a hope to children, but not necessarily by adopting NEW kids and being their 'mom and dad.' Our project would have to grow with the children...

One evening, as we were (and still are) in a transition as our older children are growing up and moving out, I had a realization. I have always loved working with horses, and I know the need in Kenya for therapy is so great, so why not combine the two? WHY NOT do something I love and use it to bring help and healing to the people of Kenya and fill the gap in the Kenyan system?
 
Thus our equine assisted therapy program was born!
 
*stay tuned for the next article about how my past, tying it with the present, brought us to the place wehre HORSES actually became the therapists of choice.
 
 

A Future and a Hope

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV

Everything that we do in Kenya, the farm, horse therapy, feeding the hungry, helping kids stay in school, and helping people with access to healthcare is done to help create a hope in the future.

 

When we first met Edith more than ten years ago, she had no hope in the future. She was destined to either live on the streets or be sent to the village to become a herder of goats and sheep. There was no school in her future, no chance of relationships, nothing except hardship and trauma. She is why we are here. She is why we work hard at creating chances for hopeful futures. 


Thank You

I am doing the data entry of folks who donated last month to A Future and a Hope, and wanted to say a quick thank you. Without your help, we would not be able to accomplish what we have so far, and would not be able to move forward. 

I cannot promise you finacial rewards for your gifts, but I am a firm believer in the spiritual law of sowing and reaping. This is not something we should or even could manipulate for our personal gain, but nonetheless when you do good things you will reap good in return. 

Thank you guys. You are the best. If you would like to help us here in Kenya here are some ways you can send money:

 

Western Union and MoneyGram (send to Johnny Brooks in Nakuru and let me know)

Wave (This is a newish app that will allow you to send money directly to our phone. Here in Kenya we have a service called MPESA which is a mobile money system. Works great and is the fastest most convenient way for us to receive money. )

PayPal (use [email protected]

Check through the mail: 

A Future and a Hope
c/o Bob Humphrey
7909 Walerga Rd STE 112-141
Antelope, CA 95843

Or you could always bring it in person.


Highlights From Kate's Facebook Week

Here are some highlights from Kate's Facebook feed (in case you are not connected or simply missed them:)

 

Oh family tree.. I have learned so much and am really enjoying finding out who my relatives are and some of the scandalous or just interesting stuff in our past as well as my roots!!! Much thanks goes to Anna for doing all of the digging, verifying, and research. Taking my DNA test and applying it to my tree has been an amazing ride.

Kate did a DNA test to trace her roots and has been loving the results. She even found out she is a distant cousin to Beyonce.

And she's ready for school. Off she goes until the end of May.

Edith off to school

My eleven year old daughter Emma Caite loves to ride. 
Being home schooled, she doesn't interact with other kids much. Ponies give her common ground with the friends she has.

Emma jumping

Kate made this picture her cover photo:

Horse theropy

We actually had sunshine today. This is a very big deal! Now if we could have balance... Sun, rain, sun, rain...

I will end with this picture of a butternut squash.

Butternut squash

Veggie Tales lied. 
#bellybutton


Blogging?

There has not been much consistent activity on this blog for the past three or four years. Some of that is because we moved out to The Shire (our almost twelve-acre piece of land in Kenya,) partly due to computing issues, lack of twenty-four hour electricity, and also because we are active in other places online. Sometimes I consider just not blogging anymore at all, but then I go on Facebook and other social media and I am reminded that I like blogs and blogging. 
 
I like having a place to voice my thoughts and what is going on with A Future and a Hope without having to compete with politics, food, and all the other distractions. Which I believe is the biggest drawback with social media, it's ability to completely and utterly distract and derail. In fact, I had Facebook open in another window just a moment ago and ten minutes in I realized I had written nothing, neglected emails, and not planned the day. Also looking back at what I was consuming on Facebook, well it was nothing. I am not saying that social media has no place nor that I do not benefit from it, just making a point about how it distracts. The blog is a better medium as one is forced to stop and read three hundred plus words at once. It gives you time to digest the content and think about the one posting. The slower pace makes for better conversations and a more conducive environment to learn and grow.
 
I still read blogs, a lot of them. Some informative and some purely fun in nature. I prefer my blog reading app over my Facebook app. Unfortunately, the Facebook one is easier and I find myself opening it more.
 
Kate and I are going to make an effort to put more content up on this blog. We will still be active other places, i.e. Facebook, but more content will be posted here. Not just happenings, but thought provoking articles as well. I believe that we are at a point in human development when we can push through to intellectual levels never before seen, or we can be distracted by the flashing lights of social media and gadgets. 
 
And now for what is happening today:
 
Edith, our fifteen year old orphan no more, is heading back to boarding school today. She is starting the second term of her first year in high school. Her first term had some rough spots for her, she really missed being at home. (She did excellent academically finishing second in her class for the term.) Thankfully the school fee has been paid for this second term. We will do a little bit of shopping before dropping her off this afternoon. (I still have more school related expenses for other children that need to be covered.) Andrew, our son, will finish his GED on Monday and be officially done with high school. Next month he is scheduled to fly out of Kenya and head to Oregon where he has a job for a couple of months. He is both excited and nervous about it, we are sure he will be fine and excel at whatever he puts his hands to.
 
The cow is mooing, chickens cackling and crowing, pigs grunting, rabbits eating and breeding, and the horses neighing this morning. Weeds are being harvested for the goats and others. Everyone is ready to start the day.