September Song

Join us September 21 between 1pm and 4 pm at The Barn at the Boneyard, north of Cardinal. The music will be our gift to you. There is no charge for admission or refreshments. If you wish to “give back” however, a donation to Our Kenyan Kids will be accepted with gratitude. The venue has been donated by the Martelle family, and all musicians are performing free-of-charge.

 

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A message from the Chair

One might say that 2018 was a year of change for Our Kenyan Kids, and I’m very excited to say that each and every change that occurred has made us stronger.  We saw a need to change, to move forward in a different direction and we took it. In doing so, we have enabled ourselves to establish better communication and understanding with each of our projects. We have established new relationships, grown as an organization and been able to help even more than we have in the past. Each day is a learning experience, and we welcome each and every one.

One of our biggest changes, was the dissolution of a project administrator position in Kenya.  Without “eyes on the ground” some worried that we would lose touch with the reality of the situation but I’m happy to say this is not the case. Instead it is just the opposite. Without a third party on the ground in Kenyan, the projects now report directly to us, here in Canada. It has opened doors of communication that we never dreamt would be possible before. I’m thrilled to report that I speak with our partners in Kenya on a weekly basis – some even daily.  Often the communication is via email, however, many prefer to communicate via Facebook messenger or skype and a few touch base via Whatsapp – which allows us to actually speak, face to face, which is an amazing step for us.  The new communication outlets have strengthened our relationships with each of our projects.  It allows us to share in both their triumphs AND tribulations, in real time.

Our spring newsletter will be out soon, and in it you will see just how brilliant the most recent changes have been. You will also read of the upcoming Project Experience Trip, planned for late January of 2020.  There will be an open meeting in the living room of Wall Street United Church on June 18th.  Please mark it on your calendars. Come out and hear of all the great work Our Kenyan Kids has been doing and learn how you can be a part of it all in 2020.

God Bless,

Jan

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Will you be joining us in Kenya in 2020?

The 2020 Project Experience Trip is approaching quickly. We have already held our annual information session, to give interested participants an idea of what to expect if you are able to join us on our next adventure, as well as all immunizations needed, all costs involved, and an overview of the entire trip.

Now it is time for us to issue our “final notice”, letting everyone know that we must have our group committed by the end of July 2019. Airline tickets will be purchased the first week (or two) of August and then the real planning begins.

Each year, our travelers are asked to take TWO suitcases to Nairobi. One will carry all of your own personal belongings and necessities. The second is for donations that we have collected over the year and will need to take overseas with us. After these donations have been distributed, the empty suitcases are refilled with a variety of wares from the Nairobi market, that we purchase, bring home, sell in Our Kenyan Kids Store, and then return the funds back to the Kenyan economy by repeating the process again next year.

Please watch our website as well as our Facebook Page over the next few weeks as we make everyone aware of the various types of donations we are looking for this year, just in case you are able to help!

Remember, we are always open to answer any and all questions. Feel free to ask us anything and please consider joining us. It really is a trip of a lifetime. You will meet some of the most amazing people in the world and open your heart to an experience you will never forget.

Jan

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Coming soon: The 2019 Yard Sale


From last year’s sale:

Long time board member, Carolyn Matheson works the Kenyan Store at our Annual Yard Sale held at Wall Street United Church

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An eye-opening experience awaits you

Ever sit back in your lazy-boy chair and reminisce about days gone by? Smile as you recall memories from years ago, or even just a trip to the Caribbean last winter? I know I do – ALL the time! I love looking at the pictures of carefree days, sailing on a catamaran or kayaking on the clearest of clear blue/green waters, watching the fish beneath me. The memories we make today will be what we tell our grandchildren about 20 years from now. Though, I have to be honest; telling my grandchildren that I took a weeks’ vacation to sit on my butt, sip beverages and gallivanting around some island isn’t going to be the highlight of the memories I will be able to share. My highlight will be sharing my memories of Kenya and all the children that I helped to build a better life.

That feeling; that unimaginable feeling of pride, of having given of my time, to help another human, is a feeling that no vacation memory in the world can even come close to touching. To be able to say that I took two weeks’ vacation time to travel to Kenya with Our Kenyan Kids, to visit the people – the children, the grandmothers, the teachers, the volunteers; that’s the memories that I am most proud of.

When I took my first trip over in January of 2013, I had no idea that I would be as touched as I was.  At the time, it was a simple placement for a photojournalism course I was taking in college. The opportunity quite literally fell into my lap. I had no “skills” to contribute to what I then considered a “mission trip” but none the less, it seemed like the opportunity of a lifetime, and I was not about to let it pass through my fingers. As a photojournalism student, my job was to take photos and write blogs to keep those at home informed on what was going on and all that the group was doing.  What actually happened was life changing.

From our very first stop, I was completely immersed in the Kenyan lifestyle.  I wanted to know everything there was to know and see as much as I could possibly see. I took over 4000 pictures and wrote almost a novels worth of blogs, trying my best to bring the story of what was unfolding before my eyes to life for those still at home, relying on my posts to live the story for themselves. For some, it worked.  According to Our Kenya Kids and their Starfish philosophy, I really only needed to reach one. I’m happy to say I achieved that.  I was able to show the supporters of Our Kenyan Kids a first-hand view of what was happening in each of the projects that they so faithfully support. Not only did I keep everyone in Canada abreast of our activities during our journey, but it ended up being the beginning of my actively participating not only in the yearly trip over to Kenya, but in the opportunity of producing the ongoing newsletters for our dedicated supporters.

Six years later and I am now just beginning the process of planning my 7th trip to Kenya, the end of January 2020.  I would love to take of team of 10!  (I like to dream big)  Realistically, the team usually consists of 4 – 6 people, but everyone is welcome.  It’s not a vacation. It’s not a tropical destination. It is however, a trip you will never forget; and opportunity to give of yourself and your time; a chance to offer hope to someone who perhaps couldn’t see any yesterday.

Consider joining us in January of 2020. An information session will be coming up soon. Follow us at www.ourkenyankids.com or on our FB page at: https://www.facebook.com/ourkenyankids/?ref=settings

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Message from the Chair

 

From my heart to yours,
Do you ever pay attention to your daily routine in the morning? I mean really pay attention? Or do you just “do it” out of habit? Do you ever look around your room when you wake, and think “Wow… am I ever grateful for having a roof over my head, (that doesn’t leak), clean, fresh water to brush my teeth and wash my face and body,(that I
didn’t have to walk 10 miles to fetch and then carry home on my back), food in my cupboards and fridge to prepare my breakfast and lunch and feed my family? Do you ever actually notice when you are getting dressed, that your clothes are clean and smell fresh, that there are plenty more clean clothes filling your dresser and your closet? There
are so many wonderful “things” that we all have, that we don’t give it even a second thought.

How many times a day do you zip through Tim Horton’s for coffee/tea or a muffin? How many times a week do you go out for dinner? These are all actual privileges. But they are privileges that we have all had for so long that we have come to feel “entitled” to them. Can you imagine living without all of them? Can you imagine living without even one?

Every human being on this planet deserves to have those privileges. However, in Kenya, that is not the reality.

These are just a few of the reasons that Our Kenyan Kids is so important to me. I want you to know that no donations are too small when supporting the children and youth of Kenya. Our Kenyan Kids is structured in such a way that each donation is added together to support one child at a time. This starfish principle is the foundation of the organization and has continued to develop ripples in the lives of many.

It’s difficult at best, to truly understand the lives of those we help, until you, yourself have been there, have seen first-hand, how these people live. They are a very proud people, very humble, very giving and extraordinarily happy.

The people of Kenya are always singing and dancing, sharing their love and passing their smiles on to everyone around them. Not to say, they do not face challenges, but it seems that no matter how challenging life is, they always have time for one another; time to stop and chat, to show their concern for one another, to pass on peace, love and hope to
one another.

We travel to Kenya each year, each at our own expense, to bring hope, joy and love to our friends in each of the projects. Everyone is always welcome to join us, to venture to Nairobi, to visit each and everyone we help, to create joy and happiness not only for the children and youth facing poverty and the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS in Kenyan but also for you, me and our peers. We all face challenges in our lives. We all need a little more happiness in our lives and the best way to achieve that inner happiness is to HELP OTHERS and even better HELP OTHERS HELP THEMSELVES.
Kindest Regards,

Jan Murray
Chair,
Our Kenyan Kids
Click here to Donate NOW

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The Wrap Up

When the team arrived back in Nairobi after visiting Amazing Grace, we all felt a small weight melt from our shoulders. The biggest, most emotional part of the trip had concluded; all of the projects had been visited. Some, we knew we would have to return to, even if just briefly, to wrap things up, but the bulk of our business had been concluded.  We had taken ample time to sit and visit with each project leader, discuss challenges as well as accomplishments, tour the facility, have an opportunity to see the changes that have been made (or envision those that are to come), visit/play with the children, and most importantly, just – talk.

Often we will share tea or a small meal while we are at their homes/businesses. They generously open up their world to us, they let us in – all the way in – to see exactly how they live, work and play. It is our privilege to experience this, to see it through their own eyes. It is a world beyond that which most of our fellow Canadians can even fathom.  The sights, sounds, smells, are all abundantly different from that to which we are accustomed. For better or for worse, it is the world they are accustomed to; what they have grown to believe is the norm and although we are there to help, it is imperative that we remember we are visiting – in THEIR world. Just because we have something they do not, does not make it better, it simply makes it different. Both worlds have many positives. Both worlds have good people and bad. Together, I believe we can bring change, good change, change that will benefit the children and ensure a healthy and happy tomorrow for everyone.

One of those changes comes with education. In Canada we have come to take for granted that education from nursery school through to the completion of high school is free. Unfortunately, that is not the case for our friends in Kenya. Only primary school is free, but even then, free still means that parents must have funds for school uniforms, supplies and sometimes even extra’s such as mattresses for children that must go away to school. That measly little amount (well under $100) is nothing – or at least that is how most of our (Canadian) friends would see it – but to our Kenyan families, one hundred dollars to them is often the same as one hundred thousand to us. It simply is NOT attainable. If you cannot pay for your child’s uniform and supplies, then they simply cannot go to school.  It’s not up for debate. Once the children reach high school, the stress becomes even more daunting as there are now school fees involved – tuition, exam fees, and more. How many of us could afford to send our children to primary school if there was an astronomical fee attached to it? What would you do if you had to choose between sending your child to school or feeding your family this week? These are decisions that we do not even consider, have never had to consider, and yet our Kenyan friends face them every day.

Another primary need is water. There simply isn’t any. Kenyans can go quite literally months and months without rain. The drought is unimaginable. The dust, the damaged and distraught crops, the food shortage – all things that we, here in Canada, do not even consider as it isn’t something we have had to deal with. If we want water, we simply turn on the tap. If we want fresh fruit or vegetables, we run to the store. These are not options for many of our Kenyan friends. Though thankfully we did not encounter an issue on this trip, we have in previous trips, listened to stories of great hardship, where women have walked for miles and miles to purchase water for their families, strapped it to their backs and walked 10, 15 or even 20 miles home with it, only for their families to become ill from (what they didn’t know was) contaminated water.

After two weeks of visiting all of our projects, and a couple meetings with individuals who have asked us to step in and help their organizations, the team needed a couple of days of rest and relaxation. The safari part of our trip, is not always a given, but when we do have the time, it is a brilliant way to unwind and an opportunity to see much of the hidden beauty of Africa.

All of this and much more will be shared with all who want to hear, at Wall Street United Church, on Monday evening, March 19th. Please come and hear the stories of our most recent trip to Kenya.

We look forward to seeing as many of our readers as can possibly make it!

One more blog to come… stay tuned.

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