Portion for Orphans

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Portion for Orphans Newsletter

February 14, 2004

Jambo Friends! Hello everyone! I hope that all of you are doing well. I am far from home and... absence makes the heart grow fonder in so many ways. I am blessed to have so many friends, such a large wonderful family and so many people to think about and be thankful for. Being away makes one very thankful. Because many of you asked that I send an update, I decided to send it to everyone in my address book. Because some of you have no idea where I am... I have been on the coast of Kenya, Africa for three weeks now, in Mombasa. Through a friend of mine from college I made a contact with a Kenyan woman here who runs a school/orphanage. It is called the St. Joseph House of Hope. I will be here in Kenya until mid June.

It's summer time here, warm but not unbearable. It's tropical and much of the food is cooked in coconut milk... like rice, corn meal(ugali), and beans. I am on the outskirts of the 2nd largest town in Kenya, So Iím the village but near the city. The school, St. Joseph House of Hope, consists of one long row of mud huts with thatched rooves, surrounded by coconut and palm trees, a 16 minute run to the beach. :) It's beautiful to me. There are about 300 children. They are very underprivileged even by Kenyan standards, and compared to the U.S... it really is a completely different world, with aspects that it's hard to imagine without seeing for yourself. My goal, however is to learn about and make them real for those of you who cannot come.

Since I was here last in 2001, the improvements are incredibly great! What shocked me most is the improvement in the health of the children. I remember some really bad sores and parasitic infections, some as large as quarters, some larger. A new clinic has been built and the children look healthy and so much stronger and cleaner. There are now 8 classes, an office, a small hut for cooking, a library building made of plywood (rather than the mud huts that desintegrate when it rains!!) which was just built by a group of students from a local school. That same school is planning to come again soon, and is thinking of building a dormitory for about 50 girls. The buildings are temporary. We are hoping to find a piece of land soon that can be put in the school's name. On that piece, permanent buildings can be built.

As of now, everything happens in Carols' back yard. We need more room. I am living in a volunteer house with one other girl from Kenya, it has a bathroom and a kitchen. It's concrete with screens and everything. But somehow the geckos and yes, some spiders, sneak in. At night we hear critters - maybe monkeys - playing all over the roof. :)

A typical day for me... I wake up around 6:30am. I take my malaria pill and get dressed for the day. I go in to Carol's house for Chai Tea - it is sooo good and fresh here!! Then I prepare for the day and my classes. Morning assembly is at 8. The kids sing praise songs and hear announcements. A few days a week, first period is PPI - it's like sunday school except they sing and play bongos beautifully and love every minute of it. Then they have a Bible Study. 2nd period, I teach an English class to the 8-10 year olds. We're now learning the names of body parts. Then I teach them a math class. We count to 100 in swahili and english and then by 10s and then subtraction and addition. 10-10:45 is break and I am teaching Spanish to two of the teachers - in return for afternoon Swahili lessons - which are going very well. I also get to teach the 11-16 year olds English class. Today we started with a reggae song "You can do it if you really want (3x) But you must try, try and try, try and try. You'll succeed at last." They loved it and I did too. Many of these children have only recently started school and some are very old yet still at primary levels. However, their behaviour in the classroom has also improved tremendously since my last visit. I eat coconut beans and ugali (mushy white cornbread substance) for lunch and then go to help in the office or the clinic. At night, we've started a running team with a few of the boys that live here. :) About 6 of us run to the beach - do acrobatics, swim - and then run back, and remember that Kenyans are the fastest runners in the world so I'm really getting a workout trying to keep up. It is my favorite time of the day. They chose to call our team the Hoperunners. :)

Overall, this is an incredible experience. It is stretching and challenging me. It is hard to be stretched, but it produces patience and a greater awareness of our world and how we can help. I will write again when time allows, but that's not very often. If you respond, please know that it might take me a long time to write back. To those of you who have made donations to this cause, you will be well pleased with how the money is being spent, in areas where it is needed most. Most of it will be given here to the Joseph House of Hope. Also, a new government here has been in power for one year now. Many things are improving and hopefully there is much to look forward to.

Thanks for your support, encouragement and prayers as we reach out together to care for the children here that are in need and cannot care for themselves adequately. Again, I hope that all of you are doing well.

Love, Sally

~If you'd like to come, you're welcome to do so. ~