Mama Said

Mama Said

Written by Ted Horton, BOD chairperson(HHF Canada)

If you are my age (give or take 10 years) you may remember the female pop group the “Shirelles” from the early 60s and their hit tunes (“Mama Said”; “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”; “Dedicated to the One I Love”).

“Mama said there’d be days like this, there’d be days like this Mama said–Mama said, Mama said”

Yesterday, as I listened to Hillary talk with us about his days at HHFL and about what “Mama” (aka Mama Hanna) said, and the difference she made in his life, that tune played in my head.  Funny what words can trigger.  

When Hillary joined HHFL in 2009, he was 14 years old. A brash kid who had been born in Kibera and who had already seen a lot. Most of you have seen Kibera from the road or in flight but I suspect not that many of you have ever ventured into it. For those who don’t know it, Kibera is a 2.5 square km slum (one of the largest in Africa) with over 1 million inhabitants. It snakes along a valley near downtown Nairobi, and it has venomous side to it.

In 2009 Kibera was a flash point in the post -election violence (when Odinga lost to Kenyatta). Hilary’s dad was killed. His mum’s kiosk was burned down and they and many others fled for their lives.  

But that was “yester -year”. Yesterday Hillary was beaming from ear to ear as he came to greet us at the airstrip. He wanted Mama Hanna and I to be amongst the first to know. He had just been hired as a full -time employee by Tropic Air.

How and why he got to this day is a story worth recalling.

It was evident to us from the outset in 2009 that he the “smarts” (and he knew it). His brashness/sense of self- importance needed some serious work (and we knew it). His good grades got him invited to a prestigious National high School (Upper Hill). Unfortunately, perhaps, he got expelled in Form 2 when he used his fists on 2-3 “rich” classmates who taunted him (as a “slum kid”). He disappeared and spent the balance of that year in hiding. He admitted yesterday that he was hiding from Mama Hanna because he knew that she would not have been pleased with him and how he “handled” the situation.

While he could run he could not hide indefinitely from Mama. Fortunately for him, Mama Hanna eventually found him (she wasn’t about to see him waste away in a slum) and she put him back in high school (Kikuyu) where his brains, despite never finishing Form 2, got him into Form 3. Hillary finished high school and with HHFL’s financial support completed a 3- year diploma at Nairobi Aviation College in Aeronautical Engineering.

Yesterday, Hilary called Mama Hanna a “genius who saved his life, not once but twice”; when she got him back into High School and showed him tough love in the process, and when he lapsed back into the slum. In the latter case, he had graduated from Engineering but then lost his attachment on the Coast when the outfit he worked with went belly up. He didn’t know what to do and suffered yet another slum lapse—out of work and wasting his talents in the process, like so many thousands of slum kids.

He may have known in his heart of hearts that Mama Hanna was not about to stand by and watch him and his education go to waste. She went looking for him again. Her sources found him. She had another “come to Jesus” moment with him. We got him an attachment with Tropic Air in early 2019 and he blossomed (“I love it” he would always say when I asked).

He knows where he came from. He confided yesterday that most of his childhood boy friends in Kibera are dead/shot by police for thefts, and the girls are prostitutes. Different circumstances/opportunities and outcomes.

Hillary is one of the lucky ones. He had people who believed in him, wouldn’t give up on him and expected him to prove, in a humble way, that their love and trust in him was warranted. He is fulfilling his promise to us and to himself.

Yesterday was a wonderful and fulfilling day for Mama Hanna and I.  Samuel, his HHFL brother at Tropic Air, reminded him when he heard the good news, that “It takes a village.

Still aiming for the Sun, I just landed on the Moon

Still aiming for the Sun, I just landed on the Moon

Written by Isaiah Kirieri, HHFL IT & Communications Admin

A couple of weeks ago, we shared a spotlight on the milestones of one Hillary Kiendi, a Hanne Howard Fund Lenana alumni that found his footing in the aeronautical engineering field. You can refer to the post on this hyperlink here. Hillary is one among the three alumni who chose planes as their passion. Other than him, we have Samuel Kinyanjui and Gabriel Lando. Samuel happens to have secured a permanent job at Tropic Air in Nanyuki and played big-brother role in guiding Hillary during his internship at the same establishment.

I am here to share another update about Gabriel. We do occasional follow-ups with our children when they graduate out of tertiary or vocational institutions. It was during one of these encounters that I felt the need to share this. Gabriel completed his 3yr diploma in aeronautical engineering at the same time with Samuel, and each having their destiny shaped individually, the two parted ways (career-wise) in some way when Samuel got employed.This year, however, Gabriel began on a good footing. He proudly tells me how he came across a career opportunity for cabin crew in the Daily Nation, one of the local newsprint in January 2020.

Very few people take newspaper job adverts seriously, but Gabby had his eyes up when this came. He presented his papers, was invited for an interview and made it through with another 7 new staff to be inducted at Reliance Air Charters. They together undertook a 1 ½ month training at Reliance. He is on a 2 year contract as cabin staff and likes the experience here. Gabriel is keen to note that the credentials he holds with his diploma is what gave him the cutting edge, and as he says, it is just the first step on his ladder to success.

Reliance Air Charters is a medium size flight entity that offers 5star private jet services, and Gabriel feels proud to be associated with them.

He has a humble start. He got absorbed without a visa, which meant he could not be assigned for cross-border flights. He however used his 1st month pay to secure his visa which came out a few weeks just before all flights were grounded due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

He is very excited to fly, and he can not wait to set foot in other countries. The Covid-19 situation has hit the aviation industry hard, and he tells me that the 8 of them that got absorbed at the same time are surviving through the pandemic with about 60% pay-cut. He hopes that this conundrum ends soon so he can continue exploring the heights

Gabriel stays with his mum. His sister is married, and to ensure that his mum observes proper diet and regularly takes her medication, Gabriel sticks close. He is using his pay to cover their household needs and support his mum in all the ways he can.

This is one out of about 100 alumni that we are proud of having walked with through school and life for the last 15yrs.

Kevin and Theo – Reflection

Kevin and Theo – Reflection

Written by Ted Horton, HHF Canada BoD chairperson

Looking back 13 years I realize that 17 year old Kevin Kingoo was only 2 years older than little Theo when he came to live at HHFL. Theo’s mum, Faith joined us in 2006. Kevin arrived as an orphan. What a difference a few years make. I remember Kevin in Tiny Tots, a pre-school program we ran back in the day.

I always had soft spot for Kevin (aka “ginger bread man”). Like so many of our kids, Kevin is solid young citizen with a bright future. He has 2 more years of high school and then he wants to study hospitality management. I encouraged him again today to buckle down and get the marks that will ensure scholarship opportunities.

As for Theo-he still has time on his hands to just chill and absorb and be a very cute young dude in the process.

Meet Mary Wairimu – HHFL’s Post Sec

Meet Mary Wairimu – HHFL’s Post Sec

Written by Ted Horton, HHF Canada’s BOD Chair

Meet Mary. She is in her second year of a 4 year scholarship degree course in journalism at Moi University in Eldoret. I had a chat with her today at the project. What a delightful young woman.

Her older sister Bernadette finished her scholarship degree in Horticulture in Mombasa this year and now works for Dudutech. They lost their dad when they were 6&8 yrs old. They joined HHFL when they started high school. Both bright and capable, focussed and determined. What terrific young dynamic role models they have become. What a pleasure it is to witness their success.

My Freshman Experience at Starehe Girls’ Centre & School

My Freshman Experience at Starehe Girls’ Centre & School

Written by Michelle Adhiambo

It has been an exciting year as a first time high school student at Starehe Girls’ Centre. I remember joining form one as a naive young girl who doesn’t know anyone in the school. I can say that it has been a short year whose days have gone very fast. Sometimes I feel like I was just admitted to the school yesterday. This gives me motivation for the following three years that time flies fast so I have to make a move now.

It did not take time for me to make new friends, as students there are very friendly and nice. I also met different teachers who teach different subjects unlike primary school where one teacher can even teach all subjects!

Learning twelve subjects is interesting but at the same time difficult for me. At first it was difficult to balance my revision timetable but our teachers guided us. The challenge is that I am not able to always follow the timetable. This is because either the assignment is a lot or teachers come to teach during prep time.

This is me, with Fatuma, Lucy and my sister Mackline

The school feels great because it is diverse. Students in the school are picked from all the 47 counties of Kenya. We usually share a lot together and get to learn from each other. The environment is also clean and green with monkeys around swinging from tree to tree and it is friendly for learning.

The climate there is a challenge to me. The mornings are always cold and most of the times it rains heavily. I have had common cold a few times while in school.

It is important for me to study at Starehe because the school is molding my behavior and character. It is also raising me up to be a disciplined person in future. We are often guided and counseled by different people including Starehe alumni, teachers and invited speakers who I don’t take for granted. There are also many opportunities for every student to explore.

I have built good relationships with my classmates and dorm mates. We love each other and assist each other in academics. We live in peace and harmony as sisters and even crack jokes together. Some of them are very understanding.

The subjects that I am best in are German, Agriculture, Computer and Chemistry. I was position one in my stream and position three in all the form one classes. I have been improving in my performance because I work closely with my teachers and classmates. German has been my favorite. Sometime this year when we were home for a break, I had the opportunity to speak German with Mama Hanne. I still don’t know a lot but I am very eager to learn

Although I have faced ups and downs while at the school, I have overcome them because of the love and care we are shown. I am certain that great things are in store for me only if I work smart and put God first in my journey to success. The quote, “The past is my heritage, the present is my responsibility and the future is my challenge”, strengthens me and gives me hope. What I have learnt is that nothing is impossible if you set a goal, focus on it and work on it.

Local Community Steps Up and Steps In

Local Community Steps Up and Steps In

Written by Lucy Nyambura, HHFL Operations Manager

Ever since we began our operations in 2006, the entire budget has been funded from our network of donors spread across Canada and North America, Europe and the Middle East.

We have enjoyed random local support especially with food stuffs for our children’s nutrition, but this is the 1st time ever we received local funding to educate our children.

In July this year(2019) we received an invitation to apply for funding from the Karen Country Club following a charity golf tournament that they held at the club. This was through Hanne and Ted, our founders, who also happen to be members of the country club. We did the paperwork that was required and crossed our fingers for the response.

Fate was good to us, and later on that month, we got informed that we had qualified for some funding to cater for fees for two of our students.

This is indeed a milestone we want to proudly share with our entire community both online and offline. It is a step in the right direction, and a very promising indication that local people too care, and are doing something for the betterment of the universe in supporting needy children.

We are not the only organization that benefited from the proceedings, and for this reason we recognize the role played by the country club in helping us reach our mandate of educating orphaned and vulnerable children from the Lenana slums here in Nairobi, and in so doing lift them above abject poverty.

It is a commendable response on the ground, and we hope to have more local individual and corporate involvement with our work. We welcome well wishers who are ready to believe in our dream to join hands with us in furthering our will to transform and empower Kenyan youth with quality education

HHFL Primary School Kids Experience a New Dawn at ‘New School’

HHFL Primary School Kids Experience a New Dawn at ‘New School’

Written by Lucy, HHFL Operations Manager

Hanne Howard Fund Lenana has been a story that began out of the blue; just a spontaneous situation that arose from Hanne & Ted’s curiosity to have a feel of what life is like in a Kenyan slum back in 2005. Their encounter with a badly stricken HIV girl on her grandmother’s back opened their hands to this phenomenal establishment that has continued to grow and churn more and more grads. Initially, it was all about feeding the malnourished children, and providing them a place they could be occupied with some art and crafts. Hanne and Ted’s concern was however beyond this. They needed to equip the children with a decent education that would save the children from the slum woes forever.

Under their(Hanne & Ted) guidance, we have tried a number of schools since we began funding the kids’ education, and each step leads us to a new realization of just how much potential our children have.

In May 2019, we made another milestone by moving 12 of our primary school children into a new school. This is a matter that has been in our hands for a while now and we are glad we eventually did it. The structure of our programme is that all the primary school children attend the same day school.  For this change, however, we had to put in consideration a number of factors – key being facilities and standard. We began the year with 20 primary school children, with 6 being in 8th grade, a very crucial year as it marks the end of their primary school curriculum.

We resolved to move 12 children into the new school and left the 6 to complete the year in the old school, as such a disruption could be a disfavor to them before they adapt to the change. This was after each of them was subjected to a rigorous interview to determine their capability in handling their respective class workload. There were a few of the children that did not make the cut, and an amicable solution was to have them resit their previous class. As a donor organization, we go beyond funding. We commit ourselves to doing our due diligence in creating a relationship and regular contact with the schools where our children go. 

We are very glad to report that the new school community has been very friendly and supportive to our children, especially with the fact that we moved our kids mid year. All the students have been very positive of the change and they love the school. The school year ends in November, so we are looking forward to a new academic period.

Denzel in his class – He is learning the new competence based curriculum being introduced by the government

In the latest evaluation, all the kids have made a great leap in their grades, to which we attribute the close relationship we have with the school, and the conducive learning environment in the new school

Empowering Girls with Tech

Empowering Girls with Tech

Written by Snorine, HHFL high school girl

Technology refers to tools and machines that maybe used to solve real-world problems.

Let’s think of the world without the technology. A walk back to about fifty years ago to a life with little or no technology that we are using today. Things were mostly done with the bare hands; required more human power and it must have taken so long to finish tasks. You can imagine a world or life where you just eat, take a bath and sleep. I mean doing the same thing over and over again. Fast forward to today! We can not fit in that kind of world now. Thanks to the massive application of technology in our daily lives.

People’s innovation is growing faster as the world grows smaller with the invention of technology. There is always an easier way of doing things.

Let’s imagine the world fifty years to come. How will it be then?The world has already changed massively because of technology. Just imagine how much we rely on technology now than we did 50 years ago. The rate of technological advancement in today’s world is unimaginable. In 50 years to come it will be a totally different world. If let’s say we use a time machine to travel forward. It could already be a virtual world where everything is done in the virtual space. Let’s wait and see if we still get to live that far.

For many years technology has favored men more than women. We see that most of the big machines e.g., the plane engines, motor engines and so on are operated by men. Most pilots are men. The men have a higher advantage in the technology industries than women, but some organizations have come up with programs that empower women and the girl child to free access to technology. These organizations can help break down the barriers preventing girls from accessing technology through training, mentoring and jobs.

The HHFL girls got the opportunity to be part of the many girls learning IT. Akirachix has been offering us an opportunity to attend bootcamps and Geek Girls Festivals.

 

This was the end of 3D printing class back in August. The kids designed the items: Pots, eye glasses, home tables, cars and and printed them

 

Signing in the attendance sheet for the GGFEST in April 2019

In addition, this year some of us were lucky to learn about AI (the Artificial Intelligence and machine learning). We were invited to a workshop by TeensinAIAfrica. I personally was one of them. I got the chance to learn more than I knew. To be frank I never knew what Python programming was and also what Azure and Microsoft workshop was. It took me three days to be introduced to and work with all these programmes. We were dealing with three global life issues, this was: Quality education, Good health and well- being, Climate action. With these three cases, we were to come up with an idea of how we can help the government solve the problems within our communities.

For the research to happen, we were put into different groups since we were so many. My group was named Samurai and it group number four. We were dealing with strategy number four which was quality education. We were to use everything we were taught. My team narrowed the problmes down to the teacher- student ratio. This is seen as a problem to many schools in our country, where you find some schools having more than  teachers while in others schools there is teacher scarcity. With this problem we were able to come up with a ratio chart where we involved the government as share holder, while the teachers and students as the ones affected.

We designed a solution using Azure programme that we thought might be helpful to the government in ensuring that all children accessed quality education without any discrimination. We mostly pressed on the girl child access to the machines and the quality education as well. With the points and the research we had, together with our teamwork, we managed to be the winner.

This gave me the enthusiasm of learning more about the machines and the technology in general. I am certain that with more exposure, we are on the runway to great discoveries

Directly supporting programmes that work to improve literacy and education is one way to help girls reach their potential. If a girl cannot read or write, she will be held back from using new technologies and realizing their full potential.

Celebrating Alumni Excellence – Sharon Akinyi

Celebrating Alumni Excellence – Sharon Akinyi

Written by Isaiah Kirieri, HHFL IT & Communications Admin

We are glad to share with the world about one of our elder girls, Sharon Akinyi. On 8th November, she graduated from the Kenya Institute of Management, having scored second class honors upper category for a business management diploma. I managed to grab some time from her busy schedule in the late hours of her graduation ceremony and here is the interview:

Please tell us who Sharon is:

My name is Sharon Akinyi, a mother of 1 son. I work at Mkopa Solar company as a collection agent.

Today looks like such a beautiful day. What is happening?

I graduated today with a diploma in business management. I have just eaten, so don’t worry if you see me being uneasy. My stomach is full and it has been a day of festivities

How has the journey been so far?

It has not been easy. I work during the day, then I have evening classes. At home there is a boy who needs my time again; so it is not easy but here I am

How do you manage to balance your time between family, work and classes?

It is tricky. But one thing I know is: Whenever it is time to work, I give it my all because I have KPI’s and work targets. When it is work time between 8.00 AM to 5.00 PM I give it my shot because I know that at the end of the quarter I will have to go through the targets that I have been given and I must achieve them. So after work at 5.00PM, I rush to class until 8.00 PM. Immediately I leave my classroom, motherhood is back! I am rushing home to do homework with my baby and make sure that his school uniform is ready for the next day. He tells me what his day has been like. After that I have to retire to bed, unless I have exams the next day which means I have to do some quick revision. I have never slept earlier than 10.00PM. It is a busy life but I am happy

Sharon and son

How does it feel like to have family celebrate your graduation with you?

It was a very nice day. We are 8 siblings and you can just imagine the joy that was being spread among us and the love. My grandma reminded me not to forget this day, so I had to make sure that she travels and she has been here, very settled. My mum has been around with her friends..more than 10 of them

Sharon with mum and her friends

Any message for your siblings at Hanne Howard Fund?

First thing, of course you know I love you guys. I love you very much and remember if you have any targets or anything you want in life, no matter how tricky it is, just find a way to maneuver through it. It is only you who can do it. Nobody else can do that for you. It is not just in academics. It may be work, family. You just have to learn to create time for all your needs .

How have you been funding your Business Management and CPA courses?

I think God has been on my side. It is hard to get a job. I got my first job in 2014 June, shortly after completing high school in 2013. Through the savings I make from my job, that is how I have been funding my CPA course, that is, the 1st three sections. It has been very hectic, so I had to take a breather with another course – Business Management. I have graduated today, and I will be preparing to go back to school and complete the remaining 3 sections.

Catch the full interview on our Youtube channel:

2019 Kenya Cup Championship – Sport for Charity

2019 Kenya Cup Championship – Sport for Charity

Written by Ted Horton, HHF Canada BOD Chairperson

There is an expression (“Third Time Lucky”). After 2 rain delays, Steve Groh, the stalwart organizer and backbone of the Kenya Cup for the past 10 years hit a home run.  

Last Saturday, on a picture perfect Fall day in Toronto, it finally all came together. “ Grip” was the last team standing after 32 teams had battled it out over 3 days.

2019 Kenya Cup_Steve Groh

We owe a huge thank you to Steve for another successful tournament.

The Kenya Cup is our major annual Canadian fundraiser. It has provided critically needed funds for post-secondary education and has made it possible for many of our young Kenyans to get a good education on the road to self sufficiency.