Philomena graduates from AkiraChix!

Philomena graduates from AkiraChix!

Written by Isaiah, HHFL IT Communications and Admin Manager

This morning, 6th December 2017, we woke up to a bright surprise with a visit by one of our big girls, Philomena.

She has been on a 1-year full scholarship funded by AkiraChix to train her in technology. This is a chance that came on merit when she attended a very difficult interview last year that got her selected out of a number of applicants. The scholarship is a chance given to young women who come from less privileged backgrounds but have a passion for technology. It is one of the ways AkiraChix seeks to bridge the gap between male and female tech experts by empowering women.

With the end of the year coming soon, her course was also coming to maturity, with her class graduating on Dec. 1st this year.

Everyone was very elated to join in this celebration, with Mama Hanne and Baba Ted commending her for her hard work, saying that this is an outstanding result from the HHFL post secondary students. Philomena came adorned in her graduation gown carrying alongside her graduation certificates and a letter of recommendation that was read verbatim to all the children at HHFL by the HHFL manager, Lucy.

Philomena is excited to share her letter an certificate with you today.

Philomena's recommendation letter

Philomena has come a long way, having been raised by a single mum in the slum, and she too becoming a mother just after completing high school.

She is an inspiration to many that nothing has the power to stop them from becoming that which they always dream of. She is already a few steps ahead in the path of success, and she is very optimistic of securing a job with a reputable tech organization.

In the meantime, she will be in a paid internship for three months to cement her diploma course in Mobile Application Development, and we could never be better proud of her!

Philomena, Hanne and Ted

Humanitas Afrika’s Visit Motivate Our Young Artists

Humanitas Afrika’s Visit Motivate Our Young Artists

Written by Isaiah, HHFL IT, Communications and Admin Manager

On the morning of 8th Dec, we had the pleasure and privilege of hosting Daniel Kivairo, a representative from Humanitas Afrika in Czech.

Daniel happens to be a Kenyan by birth and has settled/worked in the Czech Republic. He has been the contact person for our organization for some years now.

Daniel visited us in 2014 while we were in the old home before we relocated. This was therefore his first visit in our ‘new home’. Daniel came along with his family and two friends, and they all were very impressed with the amount of work we have been doing with the children.

During the tour around the various sections of the yard, our guests commended the children’s discipline, order and cleanliness; especially with the level of neatness in the boys’ and girls’ hostels where the kids manage the rooms’ sanitation, the very organized computer room and the kitchen. Daniel also made an observation that the current yard is more neat and more quiet with a friendlier neighbourhood than our old home.

They particularly got carried away by the kids talent in art and craft from all the pieces of art that we showcased.

So much so, that one of the paintings done by Samuel Mumo of an African swing was purchased by the visitors! I call it an African swing, and as Daniel could recall from his childhood days, the kids look out for the tallest tree in the bush and hang two ropes tied to two ends of a strong stick where they can sit on and be pushed to and fro in the air.

Mumo had made the paint with keen attention to bring out an African bush contrast. The painting was sold for USD $100 which will be used to buy more art materials and incentivize the young HHFL artists to know that they can earn a living out of their talents!

This was a wonderful visit that got the kids becoming a bit more familiar with their special Czech friends!

Humanitas Afrika Visit-2017 Dec (6)

Cedric completes 4-year University degree in Nursing

Cedric completes 4-year University degree in Nursing

A letter written by Cedric, a University graduate and HHFL Alumni

I am so delighted to express my deepest appreciation to The First Group’s (TFG) and everyone at HHF and HHFL for their effort and hard work to help me get through my four years of University education.

It has been a long journey for me but because of your generous and continuous support, I can now smile and say that my life has really changed.

I finished College and managed to pass my licensing exam and more to that, I am the first person to pursue Nursing and finish successfully in HHFL!

I remember some people used to me ask why I chose to do Nursing. They said it’s mostly a female career. The answer I was giving them is that one needs to be unique and choose a career that he/she thinks can add value to his life and to others. I don’t think we should not do something because people are saying it’s a not good thing.

At the moment, I have been able to work in various clinics in Nairobi as I try to be more independent in managing different conditions in the hospital. I am very sure that I have become more competent through the experience I have been gaining from this hospital.

There is a saying in Swahili that says EDUCATION NEVER ENDS and so in the future, I want to focus on specializing in either ICU nursing or theatre nursing.

I want to urge my younger brothers and sisters at HHFL to work hard in school and in extracurricular activities because you never know.

I say to them that you might be the next engineer, medic or even football superstar.

Thank you HHF and The First Group for helping me get this far in life!

I never dreamed this would be possible but it is.

Yours Sincerely, Cedric

Samuel and Gabriel: Aviation technology dreams fly high

Samuel and Gabriel: Aviation technology dreams fly high

Written by Samuel and Gabriel, HHFL’s Aeronautical Engineer students

Among our top achievers, three of our boys dared to study aeronautical engineering after completing high school, and out of the passion we could identify in them, we have been giving them all the necessary back up they need during their studies.

This is perhaps a dream that was inspired by their closeness with HHF co-founder, Baba Ted a.k.a Papa Tango and his Cessna 182.

Samuel and Gabriel were the two pioneers in studying this course and a year later, Hillary joined them.

The boys have been so enthusiastic about aviation technology and they have been in class as well as a number of internships at the Tropic Air in Nanyuki and at Moi International Airport in Mombasa.

Here, Samuel and Gabriel who are receiving post-studies training at Tropic Air where they took their internships, are happy to share their most recent experiences:

Samuel:

“School work is the backbone of my dream career but is strongly affirmed by the technical or the working experience in the field.

I can stretch it out in great confidence that through Tropic Air – Nanyuki I have acquired very useful exposure to the aircraft operations and maintenance.

Mr. Patrick and his team of technicians are the people who have taken me to these heights. This encounter has enabled me to maintain both engines and airframes on a series of aircrafts such as Cessna, Pipers ,Waco, Cheetah and helicopters such as Squirrels and MDs.

It’s the best field for me to be in but there is always some challenges like any other industry with low chances of employment.

Nonetheless, I am hoping to be a great and reliable engineer and I will always be grateful for the opportunity HHF afforded me.”

Gabriel:

“Coming to Tropic Air was the best decision I have ever made in my life because I have learnt so much here.

I keep in touch with guys from my class who went to attachment in other companies and I can tell I’m way ahead of them.

Here, I have exposure to engine and some of the most delicate parts of aircraft of which other companies would not allow a student to participate in.

We have friendly engineers with wide knowledge and kind heart who have been good teachers to me.

Amos, our hangar manager who is expert in gas turbine engines is one of them. Brian Mathenge and JJ have also been of help in my studies since I’m going to sit for my exams at the end of 2017.

The biggest challenge we face is securing a permanent job here but we (me and Samuel) have been sending our CVs to Wilson Airport and other aviation related companies and our hopes are so high!”

HHFL’s “Make It Beautiful” project

HHFL’s “Make It Beautiful” project

Written by Lucy and Isaiah, HHFL managers

Since the start of the long rains that set off in April, the HHFL family has been working hard to make aesthetic changes to our compound.

We are very lucky to be in a neighbourhood that is surrounded with lots of green cover.

But our challenge has been in maintaining a green compound with all the play that our kids go through on a normal day – ranging from athletics, basketball, badminton, soccer/football, among other vigorous sports that leave no chance for the grass or flowers to grow.

This time round we took the challenge on ourselves to try and restructure our compound so that we can have some area for playing, and leave organized patches where grass can be allowed to grow.

We are 4 months down the line, and we are very proud of the amount of discipline and care we have put to make the compound as beautiful as it is today.

A pic below will give a look of how the compound was before the beautification and now.

It has taken lots of sacrifice and love for nature to achieve this. Everyone has played part in the process. From transplanting grass out of the forest, bringing it here, going to the florists, planting, watering and trimming as well as painting the interior of the dining hall.

Every single member of the family feels a sense of ownership in the brand new look.

The rains fell short in the months of July and Aug, and the kids took turns to water the grass with wastewater from the kitchen, or laundry water after rinsing their clothes.

Our yard has grass patches that leave sufficient playing space that is cut out in the form of a shield, and we all work hard to protect the hard work that have been involved with this long.

A number of visitors who have come to our place in the recent months have been so amazed at just how much we have done in our little place.

We have planted new bright green flowers along the front fence that are growing very graciously. There is also three flowerpots for RED, YELLOW & PINK roses.

The pots are made out of carefully cut out vehicle tyres and we got them painted during our art class. We planted these for the memorial of our two late sisters, Mary Wachu and Ngina.

Sometimes we get very peaceful chameleons visiting the roses and finding a good shelter in them.

There two trees that we planted a few years ago in memorial of Grison and little Brian are standing tall in the compound – a reminder that we will always have them with us despite them having gone to rest.

One day, I will run for Kenya…

One day, I will run for Kenya…

Written by Mackline, Grade 8 student

I am in class eight at A.C.K Good Samaritan school. This is my final year in primary school and it is exciting because next year I will be in high school.

I am 14 years old. I like playing football, volleyball, boxing and running long races. Some of my friends call me a tomboy when I play those games.

The best part is that I know what I want to achieve in life. I usually tell them that I don’t care what they say to me.

Before the school break last term, we were invited to play football among some schools in a place called Marist just here in Karen. I was among the 1st eleven to play in our school team.

Only eleven pupils and four teachers were to represent our school. I was happy because I was going to prove to them what I like doing best. After the match was over I was the best girl out of all the schools that were competing.

I won a trophy, which I took to school and showed off to my friends who had remained in school. We took a lot of photos by our head teacher who had come with us for the competitions.

When I came back home to HHFL, I told them the good news and they were proud of me with my good work in school.

We also held athletics competitions in our school and we were competing against another 7 schools that come from around Karen. I was the captain for senior girls in our school.

I like running both long and short races. I was nervous at first because the other girls who were in the races were taller and older than me, but I prayed to God to give me courage so that I could run without fear.

I took part in 400m, 800m, 200m, 1400m and a walking race. My schoolmates, teachers and staff cheered me to victory. I was given four certificates by our school manager. In every race that I run in, I placed first and I thank God for helping me. Our school was in the top position and we are proud of ourselves. We played and no one was hurt.

During lunchtime, I was served the biggest portion of beef and rice. I felt so happy because I made so many people proud of me, including my HHFL brothers and sisters and our school.

I could not wait to get to HHFL that day! I took my certificates to Teacher Isaiah and he promised to put them in frames.

I told my family what I am doing at school and they are very proud of me. I promise everybody that I will continue to use my talent and still work hard in class so I can get good grades.

One day I will run for Kenya and I would like to be seen on television. The money with am going to earn will help my family, HHFL and the people in slum.

 

A bee apiary at last!

A bee apiary at last!

We would like to let our friends know that we have finally set up our first bee apiary! This has been long overdue since the kids got introduced into bee farming more than 10 years ago.

A good number of our children were trained at the National Bee Keeping Institute about caring for the bees. However, they had not had a practical means of applying whatever they had learned.

Last year, with the help from Blaisse of the National Bee Keeping Station here in Nairobi, we successfully applied for a donation from the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE).

Among the items we received from them are 20 bee hives and one bee suit for the handling of bees during honey harvesting.

We had another challenge of sourcing for a place where to set up our Apiary.

The vast Ngong Forest is about 500m from our gate but is a government-protected forest that requires long procedures before one secures any usage of the forest.

We made some efforts of approaching the forester and it was taking longer than we anticipated.

However by luck, one of our neighbors who has a wood patch in his farm offered us a place to set our bee hives.

We have worked very hard in cleaning the hives and setting them in strategic places within the little ‘forest’ and some of the hives now have bees in them.

The essence of getting involved with bee farming is to bring our kids to the knowledge of the roles bees play in conserving our planet.

By being taught how to handle the bees and still harvesting honey from the hives, kids understand that without bees, some plants would never produce seeds and we could have a food shortage in future, as well as a in increase in air pollutants with reduced crop reproduction.

We look forward to harvesting honey and if we get a good produce out of it, we can open a honey products shop where we can make some income to help sustain the HHFL programmes!

My Pride: Raising the New African

My Pride: Raising the New African

Written by Isaiah, HHFL’s IT, Communications and Admin Manager

Sometimes we take it for granted that children grow the same way no matter where in the world we come from.

I personally have not travelled much, but I think there are likely a lot of similarities in the way children grow up. But I know there are differences depending on where they are, what is around them, and their communities’ beliefs and customs.

I am yet to be a family man, and I am so looking forward to be one – to get a chance to walk with a child from birth to their maturity.

However, for more than 5 years, I have been interacting with the children at HHFL, and when I  reflect both on these childhoods and back on my childhood, I have a few things to share.

In most African societies, a newborn and an infant belongs to the mother. It is considered her responsibility to breastfeed and weans the newborn and thereafter give the first schooling to the toddler – from language, to little responsibilities and so on until they reach school age.

A big number of African fathers stay absent from their children’s upbringing, regrettably.

As said above, a child is expected to learn their first language from their mom, and in most cases is the mother’s vernacular – with Kenya having about 43 different dialects. This is before they start crawling and walking where they meet other children from the neighbourhoods.

Things are changing here just like in most parts of the world where regions are becoming more metropolitan. It is therefore unlikely to find only one ethnic group living in one place. The kids therefore have to use a common language, and in most cases that is broken Swahili mixed with corruptions of their vernacular into their ‘Swahili’.

School age brings lots of stuff into the kids’ lives. Here, they learn how to be under the teachers’ watch, meet more new friends, learn new habits and grow a great deal in their intellect.

Besides books, play is very key. There are lots of interesting African based child play activities, including soccer with a ball made of a bundle of plastic bags carefully woven with nylon/sisal strings. It only takes the most crafty kid to make the best soccer ball, and this is done by boys.

Common games amongst girls is skipping rope, hoop, and some pebbles game called “mawe”. These days it ain’t usual to come across a girls’ and boys’ mixed soccer game! The most interesting thing about play in Africa is that’s is always done with readily available materials. Nothing is store bought.

During this age, African kids are also taught household chores. Boys from the countryside are taught how to tender livestock, fetch water and go the farm. Girls are taught how to cook, clean the house and utensils, feed their younger siblings, fetch water and go to the farm. It is not much different to those living in urban/suburban areas.

The end of primary school at around age 14/15 comes with its share of happenings.

Few proceed to high school, many drop out due to lack of a sustainable livelihood that can spare money for high school fees. A number of girls get married off after both boys and girls undergo initiation ceremonies. Sadly, a number of communities in Kenya still consider such a rite of passage.

The HHFL kids are in a safe haven. Here they are given an environment that allows them to discover their inner selves, develop trust and also learn important life skills.

We also allow them time to be with either their single parents, guardians or distant relatives so they may learn what it takes to be part of an ideal family. This is very important in helping them learn how to live with others once their time at HHFL is over.

During the four high school years, children are expected to exhibit more maturity. The majority of primary school children attend day school hence under close watch of their parents or guardians, while high school kids are in boarding schools where they have to make more independent decisions on what to do with their time.

In a year, it is likely for a student to spend less than 3 months at home. The number of high school children who proceed to post secondary shrinks down significantly with the majority of girls ending up in early marriages.

Young men either seeking casual jobs, joining gangs and drugs circles, or just being idle. Those that are lucky enough to proceed into college or university for 1,2, 3 or 4yr courses have entirely upon themselves to manage their lives, and it only takes a well brought up kid to survive and successfully complete their studies that are a pre-requisite for their first professional career.

Over the years, we have endeavoured to give the HHFL kids the best foundation to prepare them for this eventuality right from the start, and today we proudly speak of over 30 kids who are now self-reliant after completing a full cycle education. It’s an astounding accomplishment.

I am honoured and humbled to be an important witness to every HHFL child’s childhood and their dreams.

I can’t tell you how proud I am to be helping to raise a new crop of healthy, happy, confident, respectful, responsible and productive Africans.

Daniel’s experiences as an Economics “freshman”

Daniel’s experiences as an Economics “freshman”

Written by Daniel Safari, 1st year student, Bachelor of Science in Economics and Statistics at Masai Mara University

A year has just flown past so quick that I cant believe that I am off now back to class for the 2nd year of my university studies.

I am taking a Degree in Bachelor of Science in Economics and Statistics and I have finished my first academic year successfully in Masai Mara university.

I am among the lucky HHFL kids that was chosen to be funded for a four-year university degree program, considering how costly this is.

It was only possible because I got good grades in the end of high school exams that secured me a place as a government sponsored student.

About 50% of my school fees is covered by the government and HHF and all the wonderful donors has been very helpful in enabling meet the rest of my schooling budget, which includes hostel, books and upkeep.

My first year was different than I was expecting. There is more free time at University. Some days I only have a 2hr lecture and the rest of the time is up to me to decide what to do with it.

Due to much free time I had in campus, I have enrolled for other courses which will reinforce my degree and give me a better chance when it comes to job search.

I’m finding it really exciting to out of Nairobi. Masai Mara University is located in a town called Narok. This is about 150km from our home.  Narok is not as big as Nairobi and I find life a bit easier for me.

Just as any 1st year student, the biggest challenge I had to overcome was to adjust from the crazy Nairobi way of life. I had to get used to the new warmer weather, meeting new people and also managing my life individually without having to be followed around.

In my second academic year, which I have already started this September 2017, I am going to put lots of attention into my studies to ensure I score high marks in my units and be the best that I want to be.

I am determined and dedicated towards my studies where am targeting a first class or second upper at the end of my four year academic programme.

I am always grateful for the change that HHF has taken me through. I’m excited to give you another update at the end of next year!

Swedish community donates funds to improve “togetherness” space

Swedish community donates funds to improve “togetherness” space

Written by Isaiah, HHFL’s IT, Communications and Admin Manager

It’s the best feeling in the world when you get an amazing donation to improve our beautiful premises for a second year in a row.

We are again very happy to receive a second round of love and support from the Swedish Community Living in Kenya, a society of Swedish nationals who are either living or working in Kenya.

This was an opportunity that was brought to our attention by Johan and Cathy Kruger, who are sponsoring some of our children.

In 2016, we received a donation from the same society and we used the funds to renovate our boys and girls hostels.

While applying for this year’s donation, we had two proposals in mind.

The proposal we chose to present was to expand our dining room that had insufficient room to accommodate all our children in one go during meal times.

This issue had been prompting us to serve them in shifts – for instance the little ones would eat first followed by the older ones. As a result, meal times would end up taking much longer time that would otherwise be used for other productive extra curricular activities.

This is usually a very competitive chance with many other organizations like ours presenting their applications, therefore it took lots of specifics to finally be considered.

We were so thrilled to be awarded the funds.

All the children were so excited during the building phase and it turns out, the space is comes in equally handy to host art and crafts, dancing and debate activities. It also comes in handy for our periodic family gatherings in the months of April, August and December with all the children, staff, donors, parents, relatives and friends.

Everyone here thinks this was the best decision we made. Kids love the big space. The art department has been working to do very nice paintings on the inside as well as painting the outside.

It is so much fun and very eye-catching to spend time inside the hall with all the captivating pieces of art the children have done. We find fun in doing our little things in our interesting little ways, and we are so grateful for all the opportunities that come our way like this one.

We bid farewell to the Kruger family in June. They have been in Kenya on a diplomatic mission for a few years and are now back in their country after completing their assignment.

We have been great friends and we will always be as long as we live.

It makes so much difference to us to make new friends like these ones, and we make a big effort to keep the friendships alive, whether physically or online.

We would not find enough words to thank Johan, Cathy and the entire Swedish community for being so kind to us.

The impact you have made and continue to make on our children is beyond words and it will last our lifetime.