a Future and a Hope

Busy Month, Busy week

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taking the girls shopping for school supplies with puppy in tow!

School fees are paid for this term. Edith and BT are in high schools both are boarding, and we also sponsor a third orphan for whom this is the final term of high school. Then Sarah M is finishing her culinary practicals for her cooking school, also paid. The older girls are living their lives and doing well. Grace is almost 24 years old now, in a customary marriage, and expecting a baby in January! So I guess I'll be a grandma soon!

Andrew is finishing his time in Oregon and will be traveling with my dad down the west through Yellow Stone and seeing a bit of the USA before settling in Texas where he will decide if he wants to attend school or continue working. He already has jobs lined up, and it is exciting to see him growing into a man!

Makena, Starry, and I are traveling to England at the beginning of October to visit a school for Makena and to visit some friends, then on to Texas, California, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania (visit another school), Arkansas, back to Texas, then back to Kenya.

 I am planning a women's health educational meeting for Wednesday. Both men and women will be there. This will be the first time for me to speak to the men at the same time! I will be distributing over 40 menstrual cups. Each cup is $39.48, but I am asking each person give $5/cup so that only the folks who really are keen to use it will take it. I have learned that when I pass them out freely, they are not as respected and valued. This is my first attempt at actually charging a small fee for them. I hope I am doing the right thing! We must live and learn as we go along.

P1380241 (2)Our Horsepower program is doing well. We have 5 horses going now! We still need stables and fencing, etc... but that will come in time. This month is jam packed with school, meeting, horsepower... not to mention, I am trying to sell 9 Great Dane puppies and find homes for 9 kittens, too! So far, I have managed to sell a few puppies and find homes for 8 kittens. They all live with us until the 19th so it is pretty manic around here!

As you may know, we are still trying to raise travel money so I can visit people in the US. We need $1,924 to reach our goal. Our biggest issue is that when we do these kinds of fundraisers, some folks who give regularly toward our project decide to divert their normal gift to the designated item, in this case, airfare, so that means we struggle on the normal monthly stuff... With that said, August and September have been difficult. We are butchering rabbits and pigs to feed the carnivores (including dogs, cats, and humans). We don't have much to eat in the garden, really. We can only eat so much kale and sweet potatoes... but we are grateful for those things! But in all of these things, we are so grateful to just be ALIVE doing what we love. The rewards are so beautiful smiles, lots of giggles, happy hearts, proud parents, and so much more...

I think during my USA trip, my hope is to raise awareness of what we are doing in Kenya and how unique it is. The only horse therapy programs in Kenya I know of are ours and one other in Nairobi. . Kenya is around the same size as Texas, but our population is DOUBLE. In Texas, over 87 Horse therapy programs are listed on Google. Who knows how many more there are that weren't listed in that search. Imagine double the population in Kenya and only TWO Equine therapy programs... Needless to say, we don't lack for children with needs.

 


Let's PARTY! (A post from an unconventional missionary...)

Let's admit it. I am not very conventional in the way I do things. 
 
Most people I know do things the 'way they are supposed to be done!' and I tend to just do things 'my way.'
 
I hope you can follow along our adventure and enjoy the difference we bring to the world...

We do not do missions like other missionaries. Adopting orphans and raising them in our home instead of building an orphanage is one example of our unconventional ways....
Giving birth to my kids at home... also not the norm. Raising my kids in a mud barn in Africa... so totally normal. Right? Living off grid, harvesting the sun, the rain, and using the land should be normal, but still... it isn't.
 
Doing horse assisted therapy in AFRICA?! Also totally not the norm, which is why it is much needed... 
Can you see a theme?? We tend to be non-institutional..  With that said...
 
Why would I want to do the normal missionary thing by going to churches and institutions and asking for funds like most missionaries?? I really feel deeply in my soul that I should follow my heart and go to people's homes. 
Fundraising can be a boring chore, and I NEED to make it fun. F.U.N. Can we not have little parties at people's houses?? Pretty Please?
 
Would you mind hosting a dinner party where guests can possible pay for the meal and proceeds go to AFAAH? Or maybe I can raffle items from Africa, too? Or if you have a better idea, I am all ears. But if you want to help, all you need to do is say so. I can give you photos and information to print to have on hand, and then I can come and chatter away with peeps. Heck, we can just chill and sing songs around a fire... I don't care, but I want to visit homes not institutions, if possible.
 
I also need folks to come to me. I can only travel so much and so far... I hope to go to S.E. Texas. Sacramento and Fresno areas of CA, and then the East coast... NY, CT, Penn, AR, and back down to TX... If you could try to come to me in any of those areas, that would help a lot!! I have six weeks to travel across the massive US of A with a toddler and a teenager!
 
So please contact me if you want to help! I am already a bit overwhelmed by this adventure! I can't believe it is actually happening!
 

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.