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.
a Future and a Hope
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:
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.
The past couple of days I have been loading soil into a wheelbarrow and hauling it over to my raised beds. Not particularly difficult work, but tedious labor. I keep finding my mind wandering and questioning the purpose of all my digging. I am not a farmer, at least not yet. I can understand that the digging and hauling is important for the here and now. The food we will eat this season will be worth the effort, and it is rewarding labor. Yet consumption of all organic home grown food is not the end goal here on The Shire.
Enough food to share and/or market to generate income that can be used to care for more orphaned/abandoned children; that is the goal. The main thing is rescuing children. Creating opportunities where none exist. Giving the hopeless a hopeful future. Loving and being loved is our purpose.
That is why I dig. That is why I will continue to learn to farm. That is why I will try and grow pumpkins. The future of these children and the ones we have yet to save depends on the digging.
Edith is an amazing girl. She is brave and faces new things without fear. She tried riding our young bull, and helped us tame our young donkey by being the first one on his back. She's learned a lot since we moved to the Shire.
Just in case you are not connected with Kate on Facebook here are a few highlights:
I have never tried linking to a Facebook video, let's see what happens:
This is what we were doing last year at this time (carrying water), but thanks to our campaign last year, we still have a little bit of water left in our new water tanks.
And how about one more video link?:
What is in store for us in 2016?
Last year was a remarkable year for A Future and a Hope. We accomplished our goals and set out on the next phase in our journey. We put a floor in the house, expanded animal structures on the farm, sent the girls to school, feed the kids, provided health care, paid our two employees, and etc. etc.
Here are a few beginning of the year thoughts for 2016:
- More focus on education. We firmly believe that school is one of the surest ways to remove someone from poverty and a life held captive in a slum. We would like to assist more children to be able to attend school this year.
- Kate will continue to educate women on their bodies and options in dealing with menstruation. She is also considering expanding that education to include pregnancy and other sex related topics.
- The farm animals will multiply again this year providing not only more food for us, but hungry people in nearby communities as well.
- I, Johnny, would like to finish writing at least one of the books I am working on. Since moving to The Shire (our farm) I have been slack in my writing discipline. Time to finish at least one of my projects on the page.
- Our older girls ( 21 to 18) will be experimenting with money management by living in a rented apartment off of an allowance while they attend their third year of high school. We are trying to prepare them more for a life in the world, and give them some more freedom then they can experience living in our home. The small apartment we have rented is within walking distance from us, and we will have constant interaction.
As we roll with the punches this year the plans and thoughts will change, but that is just life. 2016 began with a bang for us with the birth of Starlette Sky Brooks, and I hope continues to be a good year.
If you have not done so already, sign up for our newsletter. We try not to send it out more than once in a month, and it is usually brief. It is a good way to stay in touch with us, and can be a handy reminder to think of us.
Yesterday was my forty second birthday. I spent the day hanging out with the kids and climbing up the hillside. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday.
The life we are currently living is not the life I imagined for myself as a young man gazing into the future. Not at all. About the only part I got right was Kate.
I had not imagined having children. There are now fourteen, and one on the way, in my life.
I had not imagined living in Kenya. It has now been almost eleven years here.
I had not imagined a life without religion. I am so glad that Jesus led me to a religionless life. What freedom!
I had not imagined building a farm. There are now pigs, horses, donkeys, cows, chickens, and rabbits outside my door.
This moment, right now, it is not perfect. There are things, resources, people, and skills missing from my life. No, perfection is not a part of my life. Yet happiness is. I am happy. Happy with how things worked out. I tried out some of my imaginings on the way to forty two, none of them brought me happiness nor contentment.
Living out my faith, my ideas, my commitments to family; these are the things that have made me happy to see birthday number forty two.
What will the future hold? Hard to say. I can imagine a future with:
More children rescued and given a hopeful future.
Our children living their lives faithful to their beliefs and convictions.
A farm producing enough food for us and the hungry in this world.
I can imagine a better future, and hopefully just like that younger man gazing forward in time, this slightly older one will find that his future dreaming fell far short of what actually has come to be.
Yesterday I mentioned a few ways you could connect with us here in Kasambara Kenya. Today I will mention another, financially. We are missionaries who are entirely dependent on the generosity of others. Our own money was used up years ago, and now we need people to give in order for us to continue to care for the children, and survive.
No mission agency involved. No institutional church. Just us. What you send we get (minus what the banks take of course.)
- Paypal. Send funds to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Write a check out to A Future and a Hope and send to this address:
A Future and a Hope
c/o Bob Humphrey
7909 Walerga Rd STE 112-141
Antelope, CA 95843
Oops, forgot to add this random photo from this morning.