Welcome to our blog. Stick around for awhile, and feel free to contact us with any questions.

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?

 


This smile is a miracle.

Felix. Aptly named.

P1340934 (2)Felix has been coming to A Future and a Hope for equine assisted therapy regularly now for several months.

He has complete non-verbal autism, and the most beautiful face on the planet; yet, I have never seen him smile.

The first time we put him on a horse, he cried and cried. He was terrified. He held on to his mother's arm and my arm for dear life.

Usually, I stand in the middle of the arena to be the voice for the sessions, explaining games and telling folks where to go and what to do next, but when Felix joined in, I had to let him hold tightly to my arm. I didn't resist. I stood by him and guided the session from his side.

 

 

P1350018During the next week's session, the same response. He complained when we lifted him up onto the horse but a little less intensely. While riding, he still grimaced and held tightly to his mum, but he allowed a volunteer to be his sidewalker and assistant this time.

The wonderful thing is that Felix's mother comes with him to our Horsepower sessions, and she is consistent. She volunteers by his side to encourage him, and even though her son cannot talk at all, she is bonding with him and communicating with him as they learn together.

The next session, I came up with the idea of using a Frisbee as a steering wheel to get Felix to 'let go' of his mum. It worked.

Every session, however, he still was afraid. He did not relax to the idea of being on horseback as quickly as the others. Usually by the end of ONE session, our new, reluctant riders are smiling and not wanting to go home. This didn't happen with Felix. He stayed unsure for months until...

P1360206This weekend, we tried to put Felix on Moonshadow, but he threw his body to the side screaming letting us know that he was not happy with riding Moon. He wanted our smaller pony Aby and only Aby. So he had to wait for the first session to finish because someone else was on Aby. He sat watching patiently with his helmet on ready for his turn. His dark eyes seemingly knowing more than men who are wise followed the horses and took in everything.

When it was his turn, with his permission, we lifted him up on Aby. He gripped his mum's arm in fear. He looked her in the eye with confusion and frustration, but as the session went on, he began to relax. He let go of his mum and began to ride with confidence. He started playing the games and touching his forehead in the most elegant way that only Felix can do.

I even asked him to trot. I wasn't sure if bouncing around at a trot would scare him and put him off, but...

FINALLY. 

P1360311For the FIRST time ever, I saw this boy smile. I nearly cried. My heart just exploded. I could see the real Felix shining, happy, confident, and with a smile that looks like my aunt's. 

I could just look at his beautiful face all day with that smile. 

This. This is what we do. We build confidence, and we make kids smile.

He cried again.

This time it was when we tried getting him to dismount. He cried, not because he was scared but because he just didn't want his time on his horse to end.

Felix, my darling boy, you may not speak, but today, you spoke volumes to me. You filled my heart with hope, and I am here to serve you with joy and passion.

 

 

 

 


I love what I do

 I love what I do. (My family helps, too, but I feel I should write in first person)

P1350813

I am not sure if these kids know how much I love them! The joy they bring when they come for our Horsepower sessions takes my breath away! 

As seen in the photo, I get LOADS of hugs and greetings from the children, most of whom do not speak.

It is not just about the kids, either. I know the struggle of being a parent to children who may not relate to you or connect with you. You can read some of those struggles in our three part blog here.

I do this for the parents, too, and the teachers. 

When you have a child with a disability, every milestone, every learning experience is a refreshing miracle. 

Sure 'normal' kids learn to walk and talk at certain ages, but for these kids, these milestones take much longer to develop, if ever. And when they do happen, they are that much sweeter!

P1350901I do this for them. I do this because in Kenya there are no programs like this. I do this because they are ignored, misunderstood, and scrutinized. They are considered cursed and unimportant, but to me, they are my world. They have value. They are learning and crossing milestones, and the parents and teachers are seeing these little 'miracles.'

And they keep coming. They keep adding more and more riders... At the moment we have more riders than we can accommodate. More on that in an up coming article!

 


One in a Million

I am told that equine assisted learning is common in the West, but in Kenya, we are one in a million. 

Children with disabilities in Kenya have little or no access to programs to help them physically and mentally. Parents struggle to help their children. In fact, many disabled children are abandoned and abused due to lack of knowledge and education about what ails them. Have a look at the joy we are able to bring to these precious kiddos! 

 


No Internet...

This morning, I have run out of internet. I am not sure how internet services work for those of you who read our blog, but here in Kenya, we buy 'bundles.'
For example, if I need internet, I must first buy airtime for my phone. The cool thing is that putting credit/money on our phones is easy! Many Kenyans do banking on their phones instead if in banks. In fact, we have a couple of friends who donate directly to our phones through an app called wave. It literally comes instantly, and it sits in an app waiting for me to decide what to do with it. I can grocery shop with it in town, and even dine out and pay using my phone. It is called mpesa, and it basically acts like a wallet on your phone. It is used everywhere in Kenya, even in the most remote village, and I can almost live a 'cashless' life!
 
Now on to internet... If I need internet, I have to make sure I have airtime. If I don't, I can use the money I have in mpesa to buy airtime. It is just a click of a few buttons. Then, I type in a code and a menu comes up with 'bundle' options. I can get 12 GB that are available for a month for $30, or if I want 1GB of data for $1, I can select that option, but it only lasts 24 hours. Another option is a seven day bundle for $10 that gives me 10 GB. After seven days, you lose whatever you don't use. So basically, we can get different packages that work for what we need.
 
We have a hot spot device, my cell phone, Johnny's cell phone, Makena, Butterfly, Emma, and Eowyn's cell phones. We use our phones as 'hotspots' in the house. My phone gets used most. We do home education online part of the day (not all), and in the end, we can spend probably $80-$150 on internet and airtime in a month. The nice thing is that our phones are OURS. We do not have cell phone 'plans' or contracts. We prepay as we go along and get credit when we can afford to. 
 
Obviously, in our case, since we rely upon donations from folks like you, we must have access to internet. Otherwise, we cannot communicate with our friends and family!
 
1836_0So this morning, I am up early, still in my PJ's, typing on my laptop using Evernote while sitting by the fire, listening to birds chirp outside. It is amazing what apps do NOT work without internet access! WOW! My computer is almost useless without it. I miss 'plug n play.' Do you guys remember those days? Back in the 90's, I think, windows had drivers in its programming so that you just had to plug your new device such as a printer into your computer and voila! It would automatically set up the drivers for it. Now, one must have connections to the internet. It is not always a possibility in our house, like now. 
 
Well, my fire is almost burned out in the fireplace, and the sun has finally risen enough that I can blow out my candles. 
 
Good morning from The Shire. This will get posted after I find a way to buy more internet credit!

What is the most important tool in your kitchen?

Just the other day, I was chatting with my kids about how much we have minimalised our lives since moving to The Shire. We did this out of necessity because we didn't have the electrical power to power the normal appliances in an average kitchen.

I can remember back in the day when we lived 'on the grid,' and we had an electric mixer, stick mixer, blender, refrigerator, food processor, sandwich toaster, electric tea kettle, waffle iron, microwave, electric oven, all in our Kenyan kitchen. Our electric bill was atrocious. Back in the States, we had even MORE items. We owned a toaster, too! These are only KITCHEN items, not to mention household. Iron, washer, dryer, hot water heaters, what else? Oh, I know, dish washer, curling iron, hair straightener, rollers, to name a few... I can't even REMEMBER what all we had that sucked power from the grid.

There were times I felt as if my kitchen was crowed. I had TOO many things in there that didn't get used often enough. Am I alone in this issue? I thought that you might find it interesting what we ended up keeping out of all of our downsizing... and what we miss, too...

We actually own VERY FEW electric appliances now. In fact, in our kitchen, there are only TWO. The most life changing one is our freezer that runs on solar power. It should be obvious as to why it is important. Before last year, we had NO way of keeping things beyond a few hours. (FYI, I can write a whole other article on items that actually keep longer than you think outside of the fridge and freezer). With this said, we don't have a fridge, YET. So we must eat fresh food. Moving on to item number TWO that we use...

A blender. Yes. THIS is THE ONE item that has been spared the purge. I use a blender for so many things: blending cream until it is whipped or turned into butter, blending bananas into smoothies, blending pizza sauce made from fresh tomatoes, blending herbs in oil for pesto, blending hot sauce, chilies into oil, blending cooked beans into refried beans, cooked pumpkin in to soup. These are just off of the top of my head that I can list...

So a blender has served us to be the most useful tool in our kitchen.

We use a hand crank whisk for whipping things, and our hands for kneading doughs, but I admit, I do miss a stand mixer on occasion. I use a wooden spoon and man power to beat butter and sugar together... But I don't have much clutter in my kitchen, which is nice.

I must say that we do miss a fridge, but that is mostly because we have no way of keeping leftovers for a few days. Freezing them is tedious because if we want to eat them the next day or two, then frozen is time consuming to defrost.

I don't miss a microwave except when I want only ONE cup of coffee. I do miss a toaster from time to time. 

This was kitchen focused, but we also don't have a hair dryer or a vacuum. We don't have a curling ir0n or a washing machine... So you get the idea... There are many items we do without. I miss a hair dryer, honestly, because my hair is wavy and annoying. Still, I have learned to braid it while wet and get waves, at least. I have children and a husband who help significantly in the dish washing department, so I don't really need an appliance for that.

So there ya go! If you wanna throw out all of your kitchen appliances, a blender is the one I'd keep!

Blender breakAnd as life would have it, I actually BROKE mine yesterday and found out it is no longer on the market so a replacement is not possible. So we are down to ONE appliance in our kitchen-- a solar freezer, and it is an awesome freezer at that.

Go hug your fridge, people. Blow dry your hair with a smile. Iron some clothes with a smile and be glad you don't have to press them under the weight of your mattress. Toast some bread and grin and think of me... ok?

 

Love you all, my peeps!!

Kate

 

 


We almost didn't keep this one...

In December of 2016, just after Christmas, we inherited TWO loan ponies. Basically, they were an indefinite loan to us, and all we had to do was pay their transport to The Shire. (Transport prices are extreme in Kenya since horse trucks are few. We'd love to own a truck because of this issue, and possibly use it as a sustainability project, but that's a whole different article.) Anyway, $600 later, we got our 'free' ponies to The Shire!

We were told that the grey gelding, Aby (Abyssinian Silver), was a 'toad' and would buck kids off if asked to go faster than a trot. The bay, Jazzy, dumped her 82 year old rider, and she now was not being ridden regularly, but instead, was just keeping another horse company. "She has 'issues,'" they warned.

Once we got the two ponies, we began the process of schooling them. Everyone loved Aby, the sweet, grey, 'bucking' boy. He actually didn't want to move, at all. This was comforting to my new riders who were a bit afraid of going too fast. (We have trained him well over the last year and a half, and he no longer bucks and can canter without being rude. He is very sweet!)

Jazzy, on the other hand, was HOT. She wouldn't let you get near her nor touch her. With the slightest touch, she'd speed off... and she wouldn't allow anyone to get close to her face or ears. She was shy, and she didn't like 'just anyone.' If she didn't like you, she'd try to throw you off with a big shake of her head, or worse- she'd try to scare you off by going FASTER and FASTER until you gave up riding her. When we tried using her for therapy, she'd put her ears back and refuse to let the child on her back. There were times we considered getting rid of Jazzy...

Also in the beginning, Emma Caite was scared to ride her because she was so intimidating. Keep in mind, Emma Caite was only NINE years old and hadn't really ridden a horse up until this point, but for some reason, Jazzy LIKED Emma, and this made Emma extremely glad. Jazzy accepting her was HUGE.

Emma Caite has her own issues that I think caused her to connect to Jazzy and vise versa. She has a difficult time reading, and out of all of my children, she has the most difficult time controlling her emotions. She is an 'all or nothing' type of girl; either all angry or all loving... Well, she used to be before we got the ponies...

When Emma Caite would ride Jazzy, she often would get emotional and just cry because Jazzy was 'scary.' If Jazzy did something Emma Caite didn't like, she would get angry with Jazzy and lose her temper, but she had to control her temper because she knew Jazzy was extremely sensitive. Jazzy didn't need much to make her listen. One touch, and she'd respond, often times dramatically. In fact, we removed her bit and put a 'bitless' hackamore on her. People who knew this pony now think we are nuts. "Surely she'll take off with your daughter?!" We found the opposite to be true. Without the painful piece of metal pulling in her mouth, she actually calmed down a great deal and was able to listen to Emma Caite's body and ques.

Over time... Jazzy and Emma Caite became one.

Emma jazzy 80cm
Now, Jazzy is the one building Emma Caite's confidence. When we ride over jumps, Jazzy is the one who is most brave and the best jumper. She and Emma Caite lead the way over the 'scary jumps' when other horses and people are not able to do them.

I look back to when we first got Jazzy, and because she was so sensitive, touchy, and emotional, I almost decided to give her back. Now, she's the best pony in our yard. Her quirks are what make her perfect and beautiful. Her issues have gone from being weaknesses to being her strengths. Her sensitive soul just needed understanding. Now, her touchy self is easy to teach as she aims to please, responds quickly, and is such a confidence booster for Emma Caite. Sadly, Emma Caite is getting too big for her. Soon, Eowyn, age 8 and very petite, will share in bonding with sweet Jazzy. Still, Jazzy is no longer our least favourite. Now, she is the star. 

So as people, we should try to take the time in this day and age of fast speed everything... to find the quirky people in our lives and get to understand them. You might just find that the people you once didn't want around, are in fact the ones you learn to love the most. They will challenge you, shape you, and in the end, build your confidence.

And if you are quirky, it is my hope that you find people who will take the time to understand you and love you just the way you are. <3

And in case you didn't notice, horses can teach us and mold us into being better people. They help us control our emotions, give us understanding and patience and open our hearts to learning new things... This is one of many reasons why I believe every person should own a pony.


Failing at this mothering thing...

Yesterday I was a terrible mom. Well, at least I felt like a terrible mom.
 
I was a not-so-great home educator, too. 
 
I spent my entire day cooking. Remember, we are off grid in Kenya with no fridge nor pre-made foods, so I had to cook lunch which was jacket potatoes and a vegetable stew. (Lots of cutting of vegetables!) Then I started the four hour process of making sour dough bread for the next morning's breakfast and dough for pizza for supper. I had to wait for Johnny to come home from his day long trip into the nearest town with fresh tomatoes so I could make the sauce, and we had to make the three hour fire in the clay oven. I tried to write a few blogs because we need you to know what we are up to, and then I nursed a toddler and helped Makena with her SAT math prep.
 
Eowyn school horseI finally grabbed a moment to check school work for Éowyn, and I found she was not capitalising the first letter of sentences nor understanding adjectives for the last week, and I got frustrated with her. I failed her because I wasn't really upset with her. I was upset with myself for not checking her work sooner! Keeping up with feeding the kids fresh meals every single meal is work. Andrew used to cook our meals so I could teach.
 
I felt like a failure for not staying on top of her education and letting her continue on practicing bad habits for a WEEK without it going noticed, but I took out my frustrations on my eight year old by making her do it all over again. And yes, she should do it again, but at some point I made her cry because it was a lot of work.
 
I was projecting. I was overwhelming her because I was overwhelmed.
 
So here I lie awake typing at 5 AM because my heart grieves knowing I owe her an apology. 
 
Writing things down helps. I am sure there are times that my fellow mothers feel like they have failed their children in some way or another, but at the end of the day, I fed my family, and that is a success. I am sure if I sit with Eowyn and share my mistake with her, she may learn that grownups make mistakes, too. Hopefully, she can grow and I can grow, and together, my mistake can be a learning experience for both of us.
 

Eating at Frog and Toad Canteen

Mid Term.

It is not something my home schoolers do, but our boarding school daughters get a break in the middle of each term where they come home and be with us.

Kids in carThis last week, we have had Edith and BT home for their mid term break. Starlette is over the moon happy to have her older sisters! She loves playing with them, and they enjoy being 'little mommas' to her. Of course, EVERYONE loves having them home because they are our family and are missed when they are gone. Lots of giggles and talking and football playing (soccer) has been going on, horse riding and game playing, too.

Since the girls were home, we took the opportunity to take all of our kiddos to a neighbour's a couple of kilometers away to eat some yummy food at Lemon Valley 'Frog and Toad Canteen.' I will admit, I was impressed with the food! They had everything on the menu, which is not normal in Kenya!

We ordered four pots of hot chai because it was a grey, cold day. We sipped our tea looking at the gorgeous (familiar to us because we live on the same hill) view. We did not order any sodas because.. meh... not good for us nor pleasant. For lunch, we ordered:

Crumbled fish fillet with chips Bt and star
Sausage with chips kid's
Sweet and sour pork and rice
Beef burger with cheese and chips
Tilapia and chips
Beef steak and mushroom sauce with chips
Paneer curry and garlic naan
Fried chicken breast and chips
 
Everything except the fish was grown or reared on or near the Lemon Valley Farm. In fact, the pork was probably one of our very own pigs because she gets them from us! Since we gave the owner a pig not that long ago, she decided to cut $30 off our bill. And in case you are wondering, our total was a whopping $68.50 for nine people (including Starry who didn't order food). For a meal in Kenya, that seemed a bit expensive, but I must say, everything was so fresh. I ate more purple cabbage salad than ever in my life because it just felt... well... almost LIVING!
 
SO if you are curious how much it costs to feed our family on a little outing (without Andrew here), well... there ya go! $68.50. And I highly recommend anyone in Kenya visit and eat there. It took a while to get our food, but it all came at the same time and was beautiful and well done. The beef burger was really small, but not much to complain about other than that!
 
And just to make things clear, we never go out. Seriously. This was the second time in a year that we went out as a family. So six months, two eating out trips... that's not too frivolous!
 
Thank you for loving our family and helping us provide a bit of normalcy for our kids.