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September 2013

Entries from August 2013

Fun Friday

No electricity the whole day long.

Phone died.

It was heaven.

The kids played and laughed and breathed fresh air.

I took a long, much needed nap.

It was quiet.

No buzzing, no humming, no radios.

Happy, natural, quiet sounds.

We Got a Package!

IMG_9737In the eyes of the children the greatest thing I do is bring home packages from the post office. (No home delivery here in Kenya.) I could have gone and fed 500 hungry kids that day, but that pales in comparison to bringing home that box.  If they know I have gone to pick one they will sit by the gate waiting for me, and surround the car looking for the parcel.

Over the years we have received all kinds of good stuff through the mail. 

  • DVDs
  • Velveeta
  • clothes
  • shoes
  • medicines
  • pepperonis
  • candies
  • games
  • nuts
  • blankets and sheets
  • pots
  • on and on

There have been a few items of a more questionable nature as well.

  • Expired medicines
  • Expired food
  • phones that will not work in Kenya
  • A plastic vagina. (Actually Kate loves it for her work in the community.)

Fun times. 

There is a list right here on the blog. However do not let the list restrict you. Surprises and creativity are always nice. 

That particular box Sarah is holding in the picture had a replacement glass for an Ipad, which was totally awesome. I did not expect the book, which was a nice surprise. 

Kate's wish list

Yesterday I posted about all the expenses we have for September. It's overwhelming caring for so many children with all their needs. It seems like there's never really any excess for Mom and Dad.

I was thinking about it yesterday how, even though I have some donations that have come in, and I'm SOOO grateful, I still feel like it just goes into the kids. Which is wonderful, and one of the reasons why I know that our orphancare project is fantastic! The proof is in the kids.

But sometimes, it would be nice to chip away at my personal wish list. IF I had some money above and beyond all the needs of feeding, educating, and providing for others... what would I do with it?

Here's my selfish list:

  • I would LOVE to buy Bob Humphrey an air ticket so he can see first hand what our life is like and record it for people on video!
  • I would love to buy some 'Kate' items like a cordless drill: 10,000 KES ($115)
  • I'd get some more work done on The Shire
  • or buy a bike so I can exercise without hurting my knees, and I could run errands and won't have to riskily ride on the back of crazy motorcycles to and from town: 50,000 - 80,000 ($500+)
  • or I'd get a computer so I can do more video stuff and photo editing... 120,000, ($1,400)
  • or I'd get much needed Mattresses for the kids: 3,000 KES each for the cheap ones or 12,000 for the good onesX14 = 42,000 or 168,000 ($480-$2,000)
  • or I'd get a new printer that isn't so old the cartridges no longer exist.
  • or I'd take a trip to the coast, or nairobi, or a safari (my kids have never even been on safari, and they LIVE in AFRICA!)
  • or I'd get a new video camera,
  • or a macro lens because I LOVE up close photos!!
  • or a cell phone (dropped mine in the toilet, remember?)
  • or an ipad mini because it's way more mobile and discreet than my ipad, and my ipad gets used by the kids all the time, and my screen is cracked, but I'm going to fix it!
  • or a motorcycle for Andrew,
  • or a generator for when we have power cuts or for when we move to The Shire,
  • or even a microwave just for the time being because we don't have one...
  • or a new gas oven and gas cooker because ours is not working well and is electric and doesn't work during the power cuts.
  • or solar panels or.....

Ok, I better stop....

I may be a volunteer in Africa, but I still have a wish list. ;)


How much does it cost?

Someone recently asked me how much money we need to do what we do each month. I mean, 14 children, most of whom are teenage girls... that's huge, right?

Well, I decided to break it down. Firstly, this is the basics (meaning it doesn't include community aid, building on the shire, home school field trips, nor emergencies, etc..), AND secondly, this month is different because it's a 'school fee' month. That means every fourth month, we have to pay the fees for our 9 orphans-no-more's education.

To sum it up, this month we need: $4,726, but next month we'll only need about $3,000. That's not bad for 16 people, IMO.

Here's the breakdown in USD, and these are mostly due on the first of September.

  • School fees & milk money for 9: $730
  • Rent: $460
  • Staff: $230
  • Food: about $1,400 for the month or $350 per week
  • Off road tire for the Pajero: $350
  • Gas cylinder refill: $35
  • Diesel: $95
  • Petrol: $70
  • Andrew's Lunch & transport for school: $46
  • Electricity: $175
  • Water: $46
  • Internet Credit: $185 (We pay per MB, and we have 16 people using it!)
  • Parts for Andrew's school project: $115
  • Insurance: $200 for two cars
  • Inspection: $100
  • Cell phone credit for 6 teens: $17
  • Cell phone credit for Mom & Dad: $12
  • Glasses for Grace, Muthoni, Apiyo, Edith, and myself: $460


Total: $4,726


There ya have it! October will be less needy once school fees, car needs, etc... are out of the way.


Thanks for helping us give quality care to these kids. They deserve it.

School starts in a week

The girls were supposed to be off of school for the month of August; however, their school thought it necessary to keep teaching them through the holiday (for an extra fee), so that they perform well on their national exams.

Thoughtful, huh?

They have one week left of 'holiday' despite not getting a day off so far. So we decided to let them choose if they wanted to go this last week to 'summer school' or not. Only ONE is going out of the nine.

The house is noisy with Geo-songs. They are learning even while at home. Imagine that!

With that said, school starts in ONE WEEK! I have a lot to do before then! Not only are school fees due for the orphans-no-more, we have to prepare for our home school students as well with books and such.

Plus, I don't feel as if I accomplished as much as I would have liked during this off month. I'll be home schooling during the day, which takes the wind out of my sails as far as work on The Shire goes. I hope to teach more through cooking around the world this term, though. Looking forward to it!



Mary turns 14

One of the most shocking things about young Mary's past is that after her parents died, in order to eat, she had to work around the village-- her payment being scraps of food from her 'employers.'

When she moved in with us a few years back, she definitely had food issues. She'd sneak in the kitchen and take food and hide it in odd places.

Fortunately, time in a stable environment has healed that wound, and she no long hides food, but being a very fast grower as well as her past issue, she loves food and will eat it and still feel hungry no matter how large the portions. We allow the kids to take seconds and thirds, but Mary can eat like she might not have food tomorrow. So there are many times I have to restrict how many times she can take from the serving pots so that others can have some, too!

With that said, today was her 14th birthday. I wanted to give her no restrictions on food. I took her out to a place in town where we ordered, cabbage, kale, beans, rice, lentils, pico, chapati, ugali, grilled meat, boiled plantains, and there was so much food, I stopped early in the game.

Mary ate and ate and ate... and then for supper, we grilled ribs, had cabbage, kale, spanish rice, smokies, and even more food... until.... she threw up.

Birthday cake was still consumed by Mary afterwards, but I have to admit, she grimaced through it. <Giggle>

Still, I feel like today was a mission accomplished. My gift to Mary, apart from spending one on one time with her the entire day shopping at the used clothes venders on the streets, was to let her not have any limits in the food department. Let her be FREE.

She had a great time. And she has a tummy ache trophy to prove it. And I'm so happy we were able to give her FOOD.

Happy birthday to my sweet Mary.


*FYI, this was her second birthday party ever.

We are not 'BIG,' but we are great

Some one recently said to me, "It looks like on your blog and FB all you do is work on The Shire and cook. Why would anyone give to your project?"

I thought that I would expound a little bit on this statement so you can see the importance of just cooking and shire work.

Firstly, a little history. Johnny & I moved to Kenya to make a difference. After two years of preaching, teaching, and trying to make a difference in the typical missionary fashion, we realized that it wasn't working. We knew we needed to just do it and be an example ourselves. We had to be willing to walk the talk and so we took in orphans into our personal home expanding our family from just the five of us at that time to sixteen, and ultimately, I believe, we are changing the face of how orphan care should be done.

I'm a passionate person. I want my children to learn in every aspect of daily living. I cook everything from scratch, (being that it is for 16 people means it's like preparing for a party EVERY meal), so I talk about it often! I teach my kids how to make and eat healthy, delicious, whole foods! So my cooking jabber IS an integral part of giving my huge family, especially our orphans-no-more who came to us malnourished years ago, a bright future, IMO.

As far as the work on The Shire goes, I am focused right now on it because I believe it is where we are headed. It has endless possibilities for growing food to expanding the amount of people we help, and providing a more sustainable lifestyle. I want to empower our children with the ability to build, to be creative, to learn to live off the land... I hope they all have more than they need when they are grown, but teach a child to fish...

*Camping on The Shire with some of our children, and learning how to build from the earth.


Perhaps our project isn't as appealing visually as those who have loads of money to spend on advertising.

But one thing I know, we ARE making a huge difference in the lives of these children because they are our LIFE. We don't live separately. We are personally filling in the gap that they are missing-- Parents.

As far as the future goes? Each day is a new day. We never stop loving people. I'm focused on my fourteen kids right now and getting The Shire inhabitable. After that, I'm open to whatever it is this journey takes me. One thing is certain- I'm not afraid to get my hands dirty.



Women's League

I am part of the East African Women's League.

I'm the youngest member in our league as far as I can tell.

I love being a part of the league for many reasons, some of them unexplainable. I'm a social person, and I love older people. They have so many stories, and these women, most of them, have grown up in Kenya in a culture that is not typical to my native African friends. I mean most of them had colonial parents. With that said, they have skills I can't find in my fellow Native Kenyan friends such as baking Swiss rolls, scones, pies, tatting, embroidery, beading, making butter, and other more European trades. It's not to say that my Kenyan friends can't bake or make butter! It's just that most of them don't have ovens nor fridges. And they haven't been exposed to certain arts that I grew up with.... but that's another blog.

Today, I was the hostess and teacher for our Nakuru League branch, and it was so much fun. We made CHEESE! And the ladies were quite interested. I gave them each a rennet tablet, too, with the hopes that they will practice when they get home.

All in all, I say it was quite a successful day.

I learned how to pour milk out of the jug so it doesn't splash me, too! Oh, and did I mention our cat decided to bring a mouse in the house during the meeting! Exciting!

I'm off to bed now feeling happy.

FYI, we have a variety of people in our league. Some are white Kenyans, others Indian Kenyans, others Native Kenyans, and others 'foreigners' who have lived in Kenya for most of their lives... It's so interesting learning from each culture. Today, while I taught Mozzarella Cheese making, one lady told us how to make Paneer Cheese, too!

From Great to Horrible...

Kate's perspective on this Terrible Tuesday's Blog

This morning, Johnny wrote a Terrible Tuesday Blog post <scroll down to read it>. However, I felt that this Tuesday was going beautifully!! I got to spend the day in a hardware store!!! That makes me happy. We bought the plexiglass for the hut reciprocal roof hole, and the other items we need for the roof to get finished. I even bought a mirror for the girls! That's an entirely different blog post!

With that said, it was a fantastic Tuesday until...

Edith, our 10 year old orphan-no-more dropped something on my ipad, which happens to be my main/only computer.

The screen is SHATTERED. If it weren't for the fact that I have a keyboard, I could have cuts on my fingers from typing this blog article...

Not happy with this Tuesday after all. Did I mention we don't have electricity at the moment either? Admittedly, I like the power cuts. Makes us have quiet, candlelit evenings. Still... I want my ipad back!! <whine>


Belts, Belts, Stupid Belts

Replaced Parts

I am sitting in a cafe, one of the few with wifi, here in Nakuru waiting for our car to be repaired. Kenyan roads are rough on vehicles. We broke a fan belt on the way home from The Shire this past Sunday. Andrew, who has been studying as an apprentice to a local mechanic, was able to come and rescue us. Monday we did not have the cash to have the vehicle repaired, so here I am now.

Thought it was fixed, but it is overheating now. Back to the shop we go, or rather the shop will be coming to us.

This Tuesday is shaping up to be Terrible.