Jambo everyone, sorry I have been missing for quite a while. But I promise you it is only because we have been working very hard and I can't wait to tell you what we have been up to!
Arrive is doing awesome. By the beginning of August we will have hosted 7 volunteers from the United States who will have donated their time and efforts in local schools, hospitals and have engaged in various other community development projects. The volunteers have also taken trips to Lake Victoria, Mombassa, and gone hunting for gazelle with the Maasai tribe, a very traditional tribe that lives in what I like to call "Lion King Land."
With our partnering organization in Kenya, Fariji Volunteers, we have built a small structure to house 2 additional orphans (one of which is my brother Fred who up until last summer lived on the streets and was addicted to glue; he is currently excelling at school); we have begun to be more self sufficient on our property by starting a chicken farm where by currently the eggs are used for food and as we breed the chickens we will be selling chickens and eggs for income; we are raising rabbits and goats for food as well as selling them for income; we have started a vegetable garden for food and we have installed gutters in order to gather rain water to be more efficient with our water usage. And state side, we submitted our application to the IRS and are awaiting our 501(c)3 non profit status. However, I have been working countless hours for a new project, which has now defined the direction of Arrive.
Working hand in hand everyday with the many street boys and girls of Kisii (a local city), we identified 15 street boys from Kisii ages 8-15 years old who whether due to physical or sexual abuse, extreme poverty, or loss of parents and families, have been abandoned and have been living on the streets. The boys in the street have to resort to drugs, begging, and stealing just to get food and survive to the next day. Just two and a half weeks ago we adopted all 15 street boys. The boys are: Enok (15), Simion (14), Brian(14), Melickzadek (13), Kevin (13), Duke(13), Joseph (13), Evans (12), Daniel Mogaka (12), Nicolas (11), Brian (11), Astarico (11), Patrick (11), David (10), Bivoni (8). Each has his own horrific story of why they were forced to the street and neglected by their closest family, relatives, and society in general.
For example, Melickzadek lived with his mother and father in Mombassa. Many years ago, he and his mother were involved in an accident in which she lost her life. Melickzadek's father remarried but the new wife did not like children, including Melickzadek. His father paid for Melickzadek to take a bus to Kisii (a 15 hour ride) and promised that there would be someone to get him and bring him to school when he got off the bus. Melikzadeck got off the bus in Kisii and there was nobody there - his father had completely lied to him. Melickzadeck was stuck in Kisii as a young boy and remained there for three years until three weeks ago when he came home.
Of course, it was hearbreaking to tell the remaning street children they could not come, and they desperately tried to sneak into the matatu (African taxi) as we left for home. The 15 children who did come home are being weaned off of the glue that they were sniffing and they now have a safe place to sleep, new clothes, a pair of shoes, medicine, a toothbrush and toothpaste, a bucket for them to wash their clothes, two blankets, a sleeping pad, and 3 meals a day. For the past three weeks, the boys have helped in the garden, worked with the animals, and played lots of soccer. This week all 15 entered school and are currently studying at Emmanuel Lights Academy in Keumbu.
We are focused, more than ever, on constructing the Keumbu Rehema Children’s Home.
As I am writing this blog post, there are currently 26 children living here at home. Because ethnic violence between Kenya’s 42 different tribes is a major issue here (and contributes to an abundance of orphans), one of our goals is to have a child from every tribe in Kenya. Not only will we be the first orphanage to do so, but it will show the children (and the people of Kenya) that despite tribal differences, peace can persevere.
Working with these kids has given me motivation and inspiration to work even harder. After living an unimaginably hard life at unimaginably young ages, these boys deserve our help and a chance to succeed. We will not only give them that chance, be we will ensure that each child will prosper academically and grow to be a strong, independent young adult.
While all of this work has been great, there is still so much more to be done. We want to build a permanent, larger structure to house many children - one day over 100! We want to build a large field for the children to play on, and a study room so the children can have a quiet place to do homework. Yet, even more essential needs are not yet met. Right now, all the children are sleeping on the floor, which is just compacted dirt. They each have a small straw mat and a blanket, but dirt is dirt. Soon, we would like to buy bunk beds, mattresses and pillows so these children can sleep off the ground. Over one week ago, I made a vow that until all the children are able to sleep on a matress and bed, I will not sleep on a mattress or bed. So, for 10 nights, I have slept with the children in the dirt. Adjusting to sleeping without a mattress or pillow has proven challenging, I intend to continue until every child here at home sleeps on a mattress.
That's all for now, but I will try to post much more often moving forward. Everyone should absolutely check out my friend Jake's blog. Jake is one of my best friends and is here with me in Kenya right now. Besides volunteering his time teaching and serving as a great role model to his new brothers, he is an excellent writer and his sense of humor is second to none. His blog can be found here, and is 100% worth reading.