Hanne's 2011 Update Letter

To our dear donor and supporters,

What a journey these past 5 years have been! From the get-go I want you to know that without your support the HHFL story could never have been this successful. The fantastic stories of hope and success on our website are proving that we are truly making a difference! Our kids are growing up with education and are making choices for themselves. We hope that we can continue counting on your support as the future of these kids depends on it.  With the continued escalating education costs as they get older, we urgently need to find new levels of support to expand our sponsorship program. Please help us by spreading the word and creating awareness among your circle of friends and family. We have made terrific progress made over the past year, particularly in the area of education. Ted and I thought it would be a nice idea to share with you on a more personal level where the project stands and how our kids are performing in school.

In the last 2 years HHFL’s face has changed greatly.   Our kids are growing up en masse!   What a surprise awaited us last November upon our arrival.   The compound was teeming with gorgeous girls and big muscular guys.  For a moment I thought we had knocked on the wrong door!  This is when my light bulb went on and I realized the danger of “the pyramid effect” which my dear friend and supporter, John MacDonald tried to teach me back in 2006.   It was a panic attack type of moment, I can tell you that!  The good news is that it taught me instantly to remain lean and mean at the bottom, meaning no intake for the time being!  I promise.

Right now over 60% of our kids (52) are in high school, which means “muchos $$$$”.  Though run by the Government, these schools do not come cheaply.  It costs an average of $1200 to keep a child in one of these boarding institutions.   You make the math!   The kids are excelling with over 50% in the A and B category – with their sights set on college or university. Success, in this case, is expensive but this is what makes HHFL such a compelling and successful story.   There are precious few organizations that offer slum children a complete package, which we believe will truly lead to self-reliance.  This is at the core of HHFL’s mandate.

Presently we have 3 attending vocational school, 1 in University and 2 in College.  Two are self-reliant and recently moved out of the Hostel.  November 2011 will give us 3 more graduates, all of them A & B+ students, and 2012-2015 will give us an average of 16 graduates a year – the pyramid effect in full swing! University/College costs between $2,500 and $5,000 per child per year.  Only first class higher education coupled with the invaluable teachings of Ted’s current affairs class will ensure that our kids are harnessed to the wagon of change and accountability that is emerging in Kenya.    Tall order you say, but we know it is possible, the HHFL kids have proven this to us!

Our last 6 months in Nairobi were a huge success and much progress was attained.   Ted and I are very busy and determined to make the project totally self-reliant.  With that in mind, we finally accepted the fact that we needed a professional Operations Manager.   Catherine, a Kenyan Citizen, who holds a diploma in Human Resources, a BA in Community Development and a MBA in Strategic Management from the University of Nairobi joined us at the beginning of January 2011.   Though still in training, she is proving to be a great asset to our little organization.   From the stories below and our website in general, you get a pretty good idea of what your dollars or euros are helping us achieve. Without your support none of it would have been possible.  Therefore, I am not going to dwell on it, but I would like to take a minute to thank my biggest ally and partner in crime (so to speak).   Big kudos have to go to my daughter, Alexandrita who does all the high tech stuff, manages our newly installed donor management system, helps with the daily admin, manages our website, and listens to me, especially during high stress time (which in this business are frequent!).  Asante sana, Chiquita!

We hope that we can continue counting on your support to properly finish what we started.  The future of these kids depends on it.   With the continued escalating education costs as they get older, we urgently need to find new levels of support to expand our sponsorship program (our circle is exhausted!).    You might be able to further help them by spreading the word and creating awareness amongst your circle of friends and family.    Our foster family program is proving to be a wonderful way of ensuring financial stability for the fund.  We invite you to take a look at our list of available children to sponsor on our website.

Cheers and happy days, we love you all and invite you to come and see for yourselves and visit us in Nairobi!

Hanne and Ted

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