Beds of The Trees, Chalk, and Wishing Lights

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Click to enlarge the first official Arrive meme.

Click to enlarge the first official Arrive meme.

After clicking the above photo meme, be sure to read this article, featuring Arrive, in the Sigma Alpha Epsilon national magazine The Record. If any other ΣAEs read the article in The Record and were directed to our website, Phi Alpha! By the way, the "soft hard copy" looks way cooler so make sure to check out what the hard copy looks like by clicking here.

One challenge I face at home on a daily basis (that I did not face as an ΣAE at the University of Colorado) is balancing the role of older brother, caretaker, rehabilitator, counselor, friend, disciplinarian, and role model to all of the children here. For sure, my respect for all parents has risen drastically. Also for sure is that Arrive is continuing to put our children on the path to success.

Deborah in school.

Deborah in school.

Deborah Sorum Sirintai is from the famous Maasai tribe and was born in the small village Olesharo. Her father died before she was born. Deborah was left to die when, as an infant, Deborah's mother dumped her in a cornfield and ran away, never to be seen again. Elders of the village thankfully found Deborah and brought her to her grandmother, who cared for her until Deborah was old enough to help care for the younger children. Deborah’s jobs were to cook, heard goats, and look after her younger cousins. There was no school, no food, and no medical access. Through a mutual friend, Deborah arrived at the Keumbu Rehema Childrens Home one year ago malnourished with a severe skin disease, never having attended school. Since living at the KRCH, she is now healthy after gaining 25+ lbs, her ringworms and other diseases are gone for good, and in school, even able to read. Not only has Arrive given Deborah hope for a brighter future, we saved her from sure FGM (female genitalia mutilation; a tradition the Maasai religiously practice), forced marriage at the age of 13 to a man decades older, and bearing countless children from the moment she married. Everyday Arrive empowers Deborah to control her own destiny and she has taken full advantage of the amazing opportunity given to her.

But every child is different, and I am consistently challenged and grateful for these opportunities to learn new things. Take Astarico. Astarico is one of the first 15 former street children we brought home. Although he has vastly improved, his largest downfall remains one: carelessness. So when Astarico asked me for a new pair of jeans for church, I knew they would end up in the mud after only a few days. The $0.85 price tag didn’t scare me; the thought of him being careless stopped me from buying the pants. But then I had an idea: I went to the chicken coupe and got a fresh egg. I signed the outside of the egg and drew a few pictures with a Sharpie so the egg was distinguishable. I then told Astarico, “Care for this egg. Don’t give it to anyone; take it with you everywhere. If I ask you where it is, you need to show me. If you can care for this egg for one week and it doesn’t break, you have proven that you can be careful and I will buy you the jeans.” Everyday I asked Astartico about his egg and everyday he proudly showed me its uncracked shell. After one week, egg intact, I bought Astarico his new jeans and we shared a fried egg together. It is my hope that this simple one-week test will teach Astarico to better care for all of his belongings.

Starting with the top left photo going clockwise: greens turned into futbol matches with the kids; James teeing off with Kisii in the background and our caddy at his side; mechipping for birdie, ball mid air; drunk guy passed out in the middle of the fairway; Joren pitching in front of a local crowd.

Starting with the top left photo going clockwise: greens turned into futbol matches with the kids; James teeing off with Kisii in the background and our caddy at his side; mechipping for birdie, ball mid air; drunk guy passed out in the middle of the fairway; Joren pitching in front of a local crowd.

As a high school golfer, my most beloved belongings were my golf clubs. Being here in Kenya I have missed hitting the links for much too long. The need to golf finally got the best of me when James, Joren, and I went to the only course within hundreds of miles of our home.  Growing up golfing in Fairfield County, Connecticut, spoiled me a bit. Golfing in a third world country on a third world course with pedestrian pathways intersecting the fairways is certainly different but we sure had a blast! Added bonuses - not a single pedestrian was hit by any of my duck hooks, and the crowd of locals that followed us made me feel like I was in a PGA Tour event. Now if they could just add flagpoles so I know where to aim...

The original photos compared to their chalk masterpieces.

The original photos compared to their chalk masterpieces.

Now back to Connecticut, well, actually New Paltz, New York to be exact. A wonderful event, the Hudson Valley Chalk Festival, was held there last weekend and I wish I could have attended. A three-day event, amazingly talented chalk artists come from all over the world to draw parking space sized drawings of photos. Four photos from Arrive were chalked and they turned out to be masterpieces. A small Arrive team had a booth at the event to tell people about our organization. Starting with the top left photo going clockwise: Fred and his big smile; four girls from school enjoying break; our youngest child, Onyoni; and a “before and after” photo of former street child Brian Peter. A huge thank you to everyone  and the talented artists who put in the hard work to make this event possible, and I can't wait until next year's festival!

Lastly, back here in Kenya we have gladly welcomed more volunteers to the Keumbu Rehema Childrens Home. Our two newest guests, Federico and Daniella come from Costa Rica and brought with them an awesome surprise – wishing lights! The paper inflates and just like a hot air balloon rises as the gas inside rises. The tradition is that everyone must make a wish as they are holding the inflating paper and then the wishing light will bring their wishes off into space, to be fulfilled. As the wishing lights took flight, not only our children but also the entire village was amazed. We got call after call asking what was floating toward the stars from our home. As the wishing light softly lost themselves into the clouds, we can only wait and see what more surprises the Costa Ricans have up their sleeves.

From left to right: the kids holding the wishing light as it inflates, Federico ready to let the wishing light fly away, everyone watching the wishing light rise, everyone watching the wishing light peacefully dissapear into the night sky.

From left to right: the kids holding the wishing light as it inflates, Federico ready to let the wishing light fly away, everyone watching the wishing light rise, everyone watching the wishing light peacefully dissapear into the night sky.