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October 2013

Entries from September 2013

Why I Do Not Watch the News

The terrorist attack at Westgate Mall in Nairobi reminded me of something I had not thought about in awhile.

I was in Port Arthur, Texas when terrorist flew planes in buildings in the U.S. In fact I watched these events unfold on t.v. To this day, more than a decade later, I can vividly recall the horror. The plane crashing into that second building and the subsequent collapse of the towers. The people panicked and running in the streets. The jumpers. All right there in my mind. Not something I want to remember.

Because I watched these events on t.v., live, they are etched in my memory. There is something about video that impacts us more than the written word alone. I am not sure what it is, but I am sure that a live feed can have more impact than an article read the next day. Watching footage of death and destruction, real death and destruction, is not healthy.

After those events in New York and D.C. I decided to avoid live news coverage. No longer do I watch news unfold. Instead I read about it the next day. It makes life better, for me at least.

This is why I did not watch a single news update about the Westgate shooting. I read about it the next day. It did not lessen the gravity of the situation, but I will not be haunted by those images.

Our house is a house that reads the news instead of watches the news.


Toilet paper and cooking gas

Makena was singing, "I just want toilet paper, I just want toilet paper...." It's the little things that would make us happy today, and most every day. We are simple people.

The kids are getting edgy. We've been without Toilet Paper for quite some time now...

Cooking gas is out, utilities were due last week, and we are on the last bits of charcoal... which won't matter for long since the food is getting pretty low as well. Plus, we don't have fuel in the cars.

The good news is that I have about $4 left. The bad news is that we need just about everything.

More good news is that the rent was paid for September.

The bad news is that it's now due for October.

The good news is that we are doing a campaign so we can be rent free soon.

The bad news is that we still haven't reached our goal.

The good news is that we have some beans and rice left.

The bad news is it won't last long, and we'd rather eat something else.

The good news is I get my mental exercise from being creative in the kitchen as well as teaching my kids from around the world.

The bad news is I don't have money to buy the ingredients we need so school is going to have to be modified.

The good news is we still have a tiny bit of toothpaste left, we have some food, and we have each other, and we haven't missed a meal yet.

Also, the good news is our campaign is going on, so there's lots of excitement in the air for our future...

The bad news is, we still need money for daily stuff.


Westgate Shopping Centre

This past weekend terrorists, apparently belonging to Al-Shabaab, stormed an upscale mall in Nairobi. Best I can tell they shot people at random. Unfortunately reliable news is not something easily found in Kenya.

The terrorists claim this attack, and many others over the past couple of years, are in retaliation for Kenya's invasion of Somalia. 

If I am remembering correctly this is the first time an upscale target has been chosen, and this is the largest such attack. 

Nairobi is about 2 and a half hours away, and this event has not impacted us directly here in Nakuru. Certainly we are horrified and disgusted at the actions of these criminals, but there is not a widespread attack going on.

Actually the hardest thing is explaining this to the children. Emma, our 6 year old asked me, "Why are they shooting people in Nairobi?" To which I replied that some people do bad things. Personally I am not even sure how someone reasons that the best way to protest the actions of the Kenyan government is to attack a mall. Just does not make much sense.

I haven't checked the news this morning, but last time I was on Facebook yesterday there where still people trapped in the mall, and the terrorists had barricaded themselves in a room with bullet proof glass. I hope it is resolved quickly and all the trapped shoppers and employees are able to leave the mall.

The Hut Progress

We’ve been building a mud hut out of Cob. It’s basically an ancient method using clay, straw, and sand. Many houses made in England out of Cob are half a century old!

IMG_9902 IMG_9906 IMG_9915

We are so close to being finished with the hut! Inside it’s being plastered with lime, and tomorrow the outside will be done. Then we’ll work on the floor, add the door, and it should be mostly finished!

We’ll use the hut as an office in the future and as a watch house for now as we build our barn. If you’d like to help our family raise money for our barn structure, visit and share our campaign:


The Reason

I snapped this photo on the way to school this morning to remind us all of why we do what we do. These girls would not have someone to take them to school at the immoral hour of 6:45 a.m. if we were not taking care of them. We could not do that without you, and you, and yes even you over there on the right. Check out our campaign, and remember that we do this for Grace, Mildred, Sarah, Mercy, Sarah, Mary, Teresa, Beatrice, Edith, and all the other children we will impact in the future.



These girls are the only reason necessary.



Yesterday, I decided to stop in and hug a Kenyan friend. I hadn't seen her since December last year!

She began to just pour her heart out...

As she began, she teared up, telling me that while washing clothes by hand the other day, she just got so thankful for us (Johnny & me) being in her life. Remembering the first time we bought her family food, years ago, she began telling me her story.

It was a Sunday morning 8 years ago, and she was really struggling. Her daughter wasn't in school because they didn't have the money for her fees, her husband was selling sugar cane for just 10 cents a piece, and on this particular day, she didn't have food for breakfast nor any for lunch or supper. She didn't even have any pads for her period, she just had an old rag. Instead of being bored in the house, she went to church. As the preacher was speaking, she said her mind was still on her issues at home, and it was difficult to pay attention. After the sermon, she walked home and entered her small kitchen to find bags and bags of grocery items like toothpaste, lotion, toilet paper, beans, rice, flour, soap, salt, oil, pads, and the like.

She just sat down on the floor and cried, being overwhelmed by our generosity.

After telling me this story, she looked me in the eyes and said, "Kate, since you came in my life, we have not gone hungry, my kids have gone to school, and we are so happy. Thank you."


When we bought The Shire last year I created a five year plan. The biggest goal of this 5 year plan was/is to grow 90% of our own food. Right away I deduced that there was a major flaw in my 5 year plan, I am no farmer.

What I am good at is researching. So I began doing just that. One of my best resources is Ali, team member and an experienced farmer. He has proven to be a valuable and reliable resource time and time again. Ali already has plans for The Shire that will not only help us raise food, but generate income as well.


I also know how to read, amazing I know. So I am buying gardening/farming related books like this one on compost. I have since then been practicing making soil. When we move on The Shire and begin farming in earnest I will create several compost piles, bins, and barrels. The soil has been used to grow corn and beans for almost 2 decades now. It needs some rehabilitation, which is why we did not plant this year. We are giving it a rest. Compost, crop rotations, and resting will be methods we utilise to grow food for the children we care for now and for children we will care for with the added space on The Shire.

Emma and I made this short video showing off the compost pile at the house we rent here in Nakuru.

Right now we are raising money to build a house on The Shire. Please consider helping us. Click on this link to see the campaign page:


A Barn, A Fence, and a Dream

I meant to post this yesterday, but Kate and I thought it would be cool to be on The Shire for the kickoff of our new campaign. It wasn't. The network we use for the Internet was terrible out there so no post. Back in Nakuru now, and able to post.

As of yesterday we have a fund raising campaign going on to help us get out on The Shire (our new piece of farmland. ) Here was our kickoff video:


There you have it. Click on this link, or use the widget on the sidebar.

We are raising 20,000 dollars for building a barn (which will serve as a temporary house for us,) a generator, water tanks, and to finish our fence. The campaign will go on for 30 days.

Last year we had a very successful campaign to buy the land, we hope to repeat that success with this one. I want to move onto The Shire by the end of this year.

Click that link above and donate, please. Also share the campaign all over the place.

Who Are Those Crazy People?

This Friday, yep 2 days from now, we will be launching a fund-raising campaign. The purpose of which is to raise money to finish the fence, build the barn (which will serve as our temporary house,) buy a generator and water tanks for The Shire. I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to remind folks, and even inform new readers/followers who we are.

We are Johnny and Kate Brooks a couple from Texas. In 2005 we moved to Kenya with our 3 children. The purpose at the time was to encourage Kenyans to help each other, and create solutions to poverty, orphan-care, and other issues. In 2007 we opened our home up to 9 orphaned/abandoned girls and started calling our project A Future and a Hope. The goal was to create as close as possible a family situation. To replace what was missing from the girls' lives, functional family. It worked. 

6 years later the girls have adjusted wonderfully and the family is working. We have our ups and downs, like a normal family would.

When we started out on this project we decided to not focus too much time and energy on fundraising. We wanted, and still want, to have relationships with people that are not based on how much money they can or do give, but instead want relationship for the sake of relationship. Follow us on Facebook and you will see posts about food, movies, books, our kids, Kenya, you know normal life stuff. The same type of stuff everyone else posts. (Except for those folks who only exist on social media for the sake of promoting their brands or themselves.) Things have changed a little bit.

We do have to think more about money now. 14 children need a lot of food, school, housing, and attention. We also have The Shire to develop and move out on. Prices have skyrocketed on just about everything over the past few years. It is still our committment to not make 100% of your interactions with us about money, but some of them will be. There is no way around it. We have no money of our own. We depend entirely on donations. If you do follow us closely you will see that the fundraising is not overbearing, and not 24 hours. 

That being said once we start the campaign on Friday it will be intense for the 30 days. We hope that you will give, share the campaign, and help us to move out on The Shire.