Doing My Best Through the Pandemic

Doing My Best Through the Pandemic

Written by Lucy and Isaiah, HHF-L’s Co-admins

We have been thinking of bringing to perspective what our lives have been like from this end of the world, especially considering the new lives we have had to live with Covid-19 all around us.

To get a better picture shared out to our donor network and friends, we posed an open-ended question to the children on what “Doing My Best” through the pandemic has meant to them, and as the saying goes ‘Monkey-see, monkey-do’ we kicked it off by sharing with them what doing our best has meant this far.


Like many people from the world, I embraced the covid situation with a lot of uncertainty, and until this time there are many things I may still not understand from a layman’s position.

Nonetheless, I took it upon myself to observe the laid-down protocols to ensure my own safety and that of those who are around me. I keep a pack of face masks at home, and I ensure my little laptop bag has at least 3 masks every day.

I have been a bit skeptical about the covid jabs, and for quite some time I did all I could to avoid it. I however had to come out of denial and be vaccinated in September when I received my dose of the Moderna vaccine. I have not been diagnosed with any Covid symptoms, but I did not want to continue living in the dark to only end up endangering other people’s lives…especially the very elderly ones that I interact with from time to time.

For quite some months last year, things were at a standstill here, with movement restrictions making us stay at home. When the restrictions were lifted, I have had to avail myself on a daily basis to the needy kids who look up to us. We still have to keep the rest of our lives moving while understanding the risks we are living with.


Doing my best during the pandemic means: Listening, taking action and giving solutions.

It has been an unprecedented situation for everyone and more so the young ones. They were, and many still are confused. The new way of life and the change in the education system caught many in panic and not knowing what to do. They needed persistent loving, caring and a reassurance that things would in the end turn out good. They had no surety of how to handle the new normal. I have been very available to the children, and I am glad they have known, over time, that no matter what comes their way, there is someone on this end that is ready to listen to and address their concerns.

As far as providing solutions is concerned, I have been in touch with a number of alumni who went through tough times when their jobs were terminated from the effects of covid19. I advised them on small business start ups that they could begin with pocket-friendly income. I am very happy because those that took it seriously are way far ahead from where they began. It gives me great to know that I could be of help to them

From the kids, we picked out some of the outstanding ones, with most of them giving very similar outlooks of their lives

Snorine(high School girl):

I think I have done my best during this pandemic by ensuring that I put on my face-mask everywhere I go. I also wash and sanitize my hands. That has not stopped me from living the normal life I was used to before Covid came. I do all the activities I am expected to do including putting a lot of seriousness in my studies. When we teenagers are allowed by the health ministry to get vaccinated, I will be among the 1st ones because I love my life and I care about the lives of those who are around me.

Muli(high school boy):

Doing my best during the pandemic means obeying the government’s regulations on health. Other than that I have also been keeping myself busy by working on my school assignments and revision as I wait for end of year examinations.

To avoid too much free time when I am not in school, I am attending some classes for graphic design. I brand myself as Buffalino Graphics. I am growing my skills every day and I already have done some designs for some clients.

I also travel to HHFL from my brother’s house where I am staying with him. I attend daily activities and help my younger HHFL siblings with their homework.

Mackline (high school girl):

I do my best by respecting the covid19 protocols. Covid has also made us appreciate the little things in life and also to be more serious about our future. I have to be strong and work harder to meet my needs.

Rajab(primary school boy):

Doing my best in the pandemic means wearing my face mask all the time, washing hands and keeping distance. I have learned how to manage my time during the pandemic because when we could not go to school for almost a whole year, we had a lot of free time. I would spend more time at HHFL using the laptops, playing board games and also doing my assignments.

Nicholas(high school boy):

I do my best during these covid days by wearing face-mask, keeping social distance and wash hands after touching surfaces. I also try to eat fruits as much as I can so that my immunity is strong.

Brian(high school boy):

The most outstanding thing I have done best during this pandemic is finding something useful to keep me occupied in my free time when I am not either in school or at HHFL. Idleness has got some of my friends into drug abuse and girls got pregnant. So for me I had to help my mum with her small business of selling tea and snacks to get some money.

We want to believe that we have undergone one of the hardest times of our lives as the HHFL family, and in the midst of all the hardship, every one of us has put their best foot forward to still be standing at this moment. We do not exactly know what the future holds, but we keep hope alive as we all continue to give life our best.

We can never forget to appreciate the support we continue to receive from our network of donors and friends. You are the props that have held us up when we could not do it on our own.

From the Nairobi office, we sent hugs to all, wishing you happy holidays and a prosperous 2022!

Letter from Albanus – The Pioneer HHFL Self-Sponsored Nurse

Letter from Albanus – The Pioneer HHFL Self-Sponsored Nurse

To all our donors,

I would like to share with you this exciting update about my life, and also take a moment to say how grateful I am to you for enabling me chase after my dreams in school.

(Pic_in my nursing college)

My name is Albanus, a beneficiary of the HHFL programme and I am at the Kijabe School of Health Sciences pursuing a 3 and a half year course in nursing. It is a course that has been a dream come true to me.  I am already in love with the career and I am really convinced that after my three and half years stay at the school, I will emerge victorious with the essential skills I am acquiring each day.

(Pic_previously as a barista)

For a number of years after clearing high school in 2013, I had a great desire to take charge of my life after being sponsored by HHFL through high school. I aggresively went from office to office looking for jobs and I landed one at the Nairobi Java House which sells coffee in their chain of shops across Kenya. With no skills, I joined the staff as a steward, and the working environemnt there is good – allowing their staff to grow their skills at work and progress in their career ladder within  the establishment. So with time I moved myself up to become a barista and specialized in mixing wines in one of their branches.

I still had a dream that one day I would be in a proper school and pursue a career of my choice, even though I was so much in love with my work as a barista and mixologist. For a number of years I was saving part of my pay in order to start me off in school. Last year is when I finally took the 1st step towards starting school, and I had to approach HHFL to partly support me. I started off with my contributions which I had saved to pay part of my admissions and school fees. I feel very privileged to be a beneficiary of your funding through HHFL and I am giving it my best shot, and trusting myself that I will become a big nurse in the next few years. I have wanted to be a nurse so that I may be more close to people and impact their lives more positively. I am touched by humanity especially with the covid situation in the world, among many other diseases that affet us as humans.

(Pic_in my work attire)

Currently, I am ending my first year and it has been such an exciting experience. We have theory classes and ward rotations with equal time allocated to each. Currently I am at the Medical Surgical ward until early next year and I am getting real hands-on experience under the supervision of our trainers. I also get a chance to be in other hospitals around Nairobi for my practical classes and I can almost predict what the future holds for me. I hope to keep in touch and share more exciting news about this new journey that you are making possible for me. May God keep blessing you and keep us safe.

Wishing all of you happy holidays.

Warm regards,

Student Nurse, Albanus

Letter from Mary Wairimu, HHFL Media Science Undergraduate

Letter from Mary Wairimu, HHFL Media Science Undergraduate

My name is Mary Wairimu Wasike, a beneficiary at the Hanne Howard Fund(HHFL). I owe it to you donors that now I am in my fourth year pursuing a course in journalism and media studies. Well, I am pretty much in love with the course and I am excited to make it my career. Pursuing Journalism is really a dream come true to me and I am exhilarated with every learning experience.

At school I have done a couple of projects including news broadcasting. I recently did a feature story, which I aired on YouTube. It showcased how students form clubs/small unions that do good for the community. ‘Charity begins at home’ is how I titled the project. I am grateful that I have a chance to grow in dream career.

The Youtube video is here:

This course has also enabled me to expand my horizons on my writing. Mid 2020, I created a blog:

Here I share my articles to the world. It started off as a hobby but now I am glad that I earn from it. With every article I post, I get some money. I use these funds to pay some of my expenses. Writing just excites me. I am currently working on writing a science fiction novel. When I finish, I will surely share with you all.

 I am also involved in a small business where I retail ‘Kenchic’ sausage products in bulk to a couple of shops near the school. This job keeps me busy when am not having classes. It also helps with my interpersonal and business smart skills. The funds I get from the business are also very helpful with some of the daily expenses and I get to help my mother where I can.

At Moi University, the four-year course I am taking is so far so good and here are some of my achievements:

  • I have successfully hosted a radio show at MU FM in early 2020.
  • My Magazine design was tagged as the best in a recent design challenge at School.

With all these I can feel my hands gripping tight on my journalism career. I really appreciate all your support and I will update you from time to time. May you stay safe and blessed. Happy Holidays

Regards, Mary Wairimu.

I Found Passion in my Voice

I Found Passion in my Voice

Written by Priscah Mulei – HHFL Alumnus

Hello world! My Name is Priscah Kalekye a gospel music minister(artiste) or PK Music and an ICT specialist. I have been a beneficiary of HHFL project since I joined them in 2009 when I was in form two. Since then it’s been a bautiful journey.

I studied beauty at Ashley’s Beauty College with the hope of becoming a beautician and I am a successful graduate. In my pursuit of a stable career, I later joined KCA University where I was funding myself with support from my father. Here I took a course in IT and I am a diploma holder.

My journey in music started back in high school where I was Christian Union(a student religious organization) leader and I carried on with this passion through campus. At campus is where I seriously began to compose my own songs. It took me time to enter the recording studios because by then I was not financially stable. As time went by I started saving little monies and it took me one year to raise enough cash for recording.

Back then I was singing in a band or( call it music groups ) as a back up singer which boosted my confidence. For a 1st time around 2017/2018 I finally made it to the studio. I did four songs and unfortunately, my producer later called me and said that he had lost my recordings. It was my lowest moment in my life I was frustrated as an upcoming artiste.

I gave myself break then in 2019 December, I engaged a different producer and recorded my first song Tumaini… the song was not well received by the Audience but I kept pushing. In 2020 I did two songs with complete audio and video.

This year, 2021, I recorded another video which has been the password that I feel it has unlocked my music career. For a production to be complete, I compose the songs and also give a rhythm for it. I work with a team of 6-10 people who are involved with photography, audio programming, make up artist, dress code designer, producer among a few.

As far as marketing my music is concerned, I am yet to have a reliable marketing team, and I am reaching out to my network of friends to make myself and my music known. I have been working on getting at least 1,000 subscribers on my Youtube channel so that I can start earning from it. I am at 680 at the moment and I trust in God to give me more suscribers. Please do so once you open the channel. The link to my YT channel – Priscah PK, is here below:

Among my favorite videos, I choose “You Reign”. I released this video around July this year and it has so far it has attracted more than 7,500 viewers. Other than the audience reach, I just fell in love with the rhythm of the song which comes with a Spanish instrumental touch. You can watch it on this link:

Music has taken me to places I never went before and I can not even estimate how far I wanna go to the world. I see myself performing in a big international platform and I am focused to see it happen. I am just from a performance in neighboring country Tanzania. I have aslo been to a number of towns in Kenya. My songs are written in English as well as local dialect of Swahili and my vernacular, Kikamba.

Other than music, I have worked in two real estate companies for the last 4 years in the sales & marketing as well as customer relations departments. My latest job is in an Internet Service Provider company where I am putting my IT skills into good use. I serve as system admin and general manager.

It has been a wonderful journey and I am open to any and all possibilities that come my way.

You Empower the Girl, You Empower the Entire Village

You Empower the Girl, You Empower the Entire Village

Written by Mercy, an alumnus of the HHF-L

My favorite Kenyan writer and blogger of all time (now author), Jackson Biko of Bikozulu succinctly puts it that everything is a story. He says some are beautifully told; with good beginnings and happy endings, others with sad or complicated endings. Others are told and the audience laughs, others the audience shake their head in angst. ‘The reactions of the audience notwithstanding, these stories have to be told.’ ~ Bikozulu.

Usually when I tell my story to any audience there’s one consistent major player who’s part in the story cannot be missed. I point with contentment it’s contribution in my life. I tell of how they took a chance on me and many others when all seemed lost and transformed our lives. 

(most recent pic with Mama Hanne in Nairobi)

Hanne Howard Fund – Lenana was my home for a decade+. As a young girl in their exceptional care, I learnt the power an empowered girl holds in the society. Hanne Howard (founder) herself, together with our program manager, Lucy being at the forefront showing us the capabilities of women in how they ran HHFL’s day-to-day was something we all admired. While still an active beneficiary at the home, the sessions I would enjoy most were the mentorship sessions by Mama Hanne (That’s our nickname for her), the ever so punctual ‘Current Affairs’ classes by Baba Ted (co-founder; Mr. Ted Horton) where we’d all gather and each read out loud a section of a write-up in a local newspaper then explain what we’d understood. Man, talk about struggling to express ourselves in English! Some of us would round off the English to the nearest mother-tongue! 😂😂 Our Art, reading, drama, music and computer classes led by Kwontec, Tr Nancy, Peter Muchene and Isaiah respectively we’re my favorite. Despite them all now being memories, I closely hold them dear to date. It might not have occurred to them then but these sessions did not only educate us but also empowered us to go into the world with courage and skill. 

HHFL was and still is a significant part of my story. It’s a story I will always tell.

(My graduation home reception at HHFL)

While sessions with the founders, teachers and support staff at HHFL really boosted our progress, there were times we would wish more people from the community would come mentor us. I was a young naïve girl who needed a ‘big sister’. A sister to come comfort and tell me that everything would be okay, guide me on where to direct my focus and give me hope that the opportunities out there were for me too – not just for other girls from family za masonko (rich kids). Had I had this ‘sister’, I would have probably managed to courageously sit through my first Communications Skills class at Strathmore University without feeling so bad that I was the only student who didn’t have a laptop at the time 😁. I spent the whole 3 hour session class wondering if I really would fit into that school. Anyway, that is a story for another day. I am here now, empowered, educated and elderly (a little bit 😜) and I feel strongly that I fit the ‘big sis’ description, don’t you think? 😎

Together with other amazing young adults (women & men), we have started a wonderful journey and relationship between ‘big sis/bro’ and ‘small sis’ called STELLAR GIRLS KENYA for the young adolescent girls at HHFL and those from the Lenana community too.
Allow me to tell you a little about it. 😊

WHO/WHAT IS ‘STELLAR GIRLS KENYA’? This is a mentorship and empowerment program for adolescent girls and young women in Lenana, Ngong Road – Nairobi area and beyond. Our objective is to EDUCATE, ELEVATE and EMPOWER a girl’s emotional, intellectual, mental, spiritual and social strengths with an intent to help her acquire skills that will allow her make informed choices and decisions in her life as a stellar girl.

WHY ‘STELLAR’? YOU ASK. By dictionary definition, ‘Stellar’ refers to a person or thing considered to be good/has the qualities of a star performer/relating to stars. Stellar Girls Kenya believes that every girl deserves to lead a stellar life and is committed to guide her tap into her strengths to see this realized. Every girl is a star! We are here to remind her that, everyday!

Mission: To educate, elevate and empower a young girl into the best version of herself.
Vision: To be a platform for positive and long-term positive change in the community.

WHO IS A STELLAR GIRL? SGK’s stellar girl is any girl ready and eager to be educated, elevated and empowered into the best version of herself.

WHO IS A STELLAR MENTOR? SGK identifies individuals or industry experts within the community and beyond, who are committed and dedicated to fostering positive change in the lives of adolescent girls and young women. A stellar mentor is a person (adult man or woman) who’s personal and career journey has been full of life lessons that they would in turn like to pass down to a stellar girl.

WHICH STELLAR TOPICS DO WE COVER? The mentorship topics we cover are not restricted to any particular area as the intention is to take an approach that ensures most, if not all areas of life are covered. However, notable topics of conversations include:

  • Education (formal & informal)/Academic success & its impact in life/goal setting
  • Menstrual health hygiene management,
  • Sexual and Reproductive Health – (Early marriages, Teenage Pregnancies, etc.
  • Women in leadership
  • Spirituality
  • Mental Health Management (Handing depression, anxiety, stress, etc.)
  • Relationships/Family
  • Drugs and Substance abuse
  • ICT Skills for women
  • Career – white & blue collar,
  • Talents and hobbies,
  • Income generation activities,
  • Social media use (pros & cons),
  • Motherhood & Parenting (for our young girls who are already mothers),
  • Social life – , etc.

We recently concluded a great introductory session dubbed “Stellar Girls Tujuane Meet-Up” andcaptured some moments of this day and shared it on our now ready and set Youtube channel –  (See video of session HERE).

With this introductory meet-up, we identified adolescent girls and young women (who fall into the target age group) at Hanne Howard Fund Lenana  who we gave priority to sign up. The program is voluntary in that NO girl was coerced to join. Surprisingly, all the girls that showed up for the meeting (from the Lenana community too) all signed up and were very punctual are ready to be mentored. 

(John Mutahi, a fellow alumnus addressing our gathering)

We managed to also collect all the girls’ basic data i.e. full names, contact details, area of residence, grade/education level, name of school, performance levels, parent/guardian contacts. It was very vital that we had this information for the purposes of setting up a database for our supporters and/or stellar mentors that will aide in following up with the girl’s progress.

As we all embark on this great graceful journey of growth, million little miracles and possibilities, I would like to raise a glass (of mango juice 😎) and repeat a powerful eminent slogan to our stellar girls saying, “Here’s to strong bold stellar women. May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them!”

From the Gym to National Women Basketball Team Fitness Coach

From the Gym to National Women Basketball Team Fitness Coach

Written by Simon Kanyenze – HHFL Alumnus

It is Simon, once again! I have shared about my life on this website in the past years, and I am here again to share a quick but exciting update.

To bring you to speed, I have been in the HHFL programme for years through my high school days in late 2000’s and thereafter to a fitness college where I studied for personal training, fitness and nutrition in 2013.

This year has been a different and special one in my career journey and I am elated to share with everyone about my success. I have been working with a team of fitness instructors at Mazoezi Gym and this year we took a bold step of being featured on national television. “Mazoezi” is Swahili for physical exercise. It is no small fete to me, and I am proud of myself for the progress I am making.

Around mid this year, I had a chance to air an early morning live workout session in one of the big media houses in Kenya, Citizen TV. It was through one of the guys in my team who had been featured for a live workout before he joined our team. For the live show, he needed to be with the best of the best from ourselves and I got the chance to be one of them. Through the show, we attracted a good number of interested clients.

A few months later, I got introduced to the Kenya Lioness basketball team. One of their sponsors is a good friend of mine…and while in a chitchat he got interested in hooking me up with a fitness trainer job for the girls. I did not see that coming, but surprisingly the next day after we had talked, he scheduled a meeting between the team manager and myself. That is how I found myself training these heroines.

Here is a link to one of my live workout sessions:

I give them a variety of trainings ranging from strength training, agility, and endurance training. What I like most about working with this national team is their cooperation, their punctuality when it comes to training times as well as how hard they work when we have sessions. My hope is to be the best that I can be for the team and be given a full contract as the team’s fitness coach.

My long term plans are to open my own gym where I can be working part-time and also employ others. I still do not have enough capital to buy the equipment and cover running costs, but I am pressing on towards this achievement. I am very grateful for the foundation that HHFL laid for me.

On the social media platforms you can find me as:

Facebook: Simon Peter

Instagram: Coach_Cymoe_254

I am also on Youtube as: Simon Kanyenze

Aside from my career, I am a family man. I am married to a beautiful wife by the name Bridgit. We have two kids – a girl who is 7yrs and in grade 2 and a boy who is 1.8 years now. I have also adopted another two kids both girls – Faith and Divine. One is 13years old (grade 8) and the other one 3years old. I choose not to be selfish with my earnings but rather  educate them. They are from different mothers. Their story is really painful which touched me and I did what I could, knowing where I have come from. I did this with love and not because I am stable. I actually am struggling with everything but no one can tell. I learned  a lot from  Mama Hanne, Baba Ted, Moyra and my older sister Eunice. They helped me to be who I am today. Lighting a smile on a child’s face is one beautiful thing and in future I’ll follow Mama Hanne footsteps to help the needy children.

As I conclude, I would like to share with everyone and especially my brothers and sisters at HHFL that no one is barred from going beyond their limitations. The “fire in your belly” and “thinking outside the box” will always open your mind and bring many possibilities in your way (I can never forget this from Mama Hanne and Baba Ted. They used to stress it on us and I am practically seeing it in real life). With a high level of self discipline and putting God 1st, doors can be opened for you.

I finally Landed on my Dream Job and I Juggle it With Other Hustles

I finally Landed on my Dream Job and I Juggle it With Other Hustles

Written by Alice Kangwato – HHF-L Alumnus

My name is Alice,one of the beneficiaries of HHFL.

After completing my hospitality diploma, I have tried a number of jobs as an employee, but luck has not been on my side to be in a job that enables me put into full use the skills I learnt in college. This happens often with many graduates who have to start their 1st employment not necessarily in the line of their studies.

I work with Super Eagle Travel and Tours Company as a travel agent.The journey to embrace the thread of my work has been a challenging one since Corona struck last year but at least now things are getting back to normal slowly.

Some of my responsibilities in this field are: air ticketing, airport transfers, hotel bookings, processing visa services, making itineraries e.t.c which I learnt on the job. I love traveling and so the job has given me the opportunity to do so in various parts of the country and it’s just magical and exciting to meet different people and experience their various cultures while on the job..this is the best part.

As I have learnt over the years,it’s always important to keep the right perspective and be positive regardless of any situation and this has made me a valuable resource to the institution..I can say that I am still learning to be the best version of me but I love that I am doing this.

I am married and have two kids now. Christian, my son, is now 8yrs old and baby Angel is 8 months! My family is my motivation.We keep each other on toes and keep pushing for better days!

I also started a small company of my own. It is called Kilali Ventures and we specialize in office stationery sales. We deliver stationery solutions to offices and I am learning to manage my own even while I am employed. It helps me grow my skills as well as giving me an extra income to build on my dreams.

Another important thing that keeps my life busy is working as a Human Resource Admin assistant. It has been through a lady mentor I once worked with in a hospital where I was serving as a receptionist. Some years later after leaving the receptionist job, I still kept in touch with her, and that is how I got into her good books to begin being mentored along hr business issues. Smart HR Consultancy offers HR solutions for big companies that prefer outsourcing for such company needs. It is a learning process and this venture looks more lucrative than all the other ones that I have ever been involved with.

HHFL has really played a big role in this and the best part is that whatever I have achieved so far is because of the values they instilled in me. I always strive to keep “the fire in my belly” burning as our Baba Ted would say..and this,keeps me going.

Lucy On The Front Lines of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Lucy On The Front Lines of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Written by Lucy, HHFL’s Program Manager

2020 started like any other year with so much anticipation. All the kids had gone back to school and all was well!

We had started preparing for our usual program for April holiday and BOOM! COVID-19 arrived and we went into lockdown for 21 days and schools closed overnight to help curb the spread.

It was something that I had never experienced before in my life and it came as a shock. I had no idea what to do and how to handle all the HHFL kids around. Luckily, Mama Hanne was just a phone call away but it was still challenging because she couldn’t be on the ground in the slum with me.

We were forced to close the project temporarily and kids went back to live with their guardians or relatives. Many went to the countryside. This was something strange to them because most HHFL kids think of our project as their home.

I had to be the eyes and ears of our founder, Hanne, so I had to be alert all the time. The pressure to keep everyone safe was really high. Isaiah and I implemented a system that benefited all the kids, even if they were far away. We got some help from the teachers too.

Alexandra helped initiate calls for emergency donations and it saved us.  We tried our best to ensure everyone was well taken care of but I was always feeling stressed as there was never a moment’s peace.

For example, one of our girls, Philomena, was in a bad corner with her landlord threatening to evict her with her mum and two kids. We stepped in to help pay her rent.

Faith also became very ill. We suspected COVID-19 and treated it with a high degree of seriousness in an isolation room that we rented.  I worked together with Mama Hanne from a distance and she guided me on how to handle every situation.

Faith was also on the verge of being evicted but thanks to the emergency funds we were able to pay her rent and food. We can proudly say that we took care of her until she secured herself with a well paying job this summer. 

Gabriel was also one of HHFL’s Alumni who was on the verge of being evicted with his mum. We paid their rent and now Gabriel is working again.  We are still keeping a close watch on all the children including our alumni because a number of them were laid off as some companies closed down.

The slum was not a safe place either because most of the people were left without jobs too so the crime rate and violence was extremely high.

On top of taking care of the HHFL kids and families, I had to keep close watch on my own situation and two children because I live in the slum.

I can recall many incidents including witnessing being beaten by police for being out past the curfew and being burned for petty thefts to help put food on the table. I can’t even describe how scary this is.

On one occasion, my neighbour was outside taking her clothes from the hanging line past the curfew and the police saw her. She ran in the house but the police came straight to her house and forced themselves inside. Alongside her kid, they were beaten and then rushed to hospital. They are OK now but it was truly terrifying to hear it happening beside my own home.

I became very ill myself during June/July with all the symptoms of COVID- 19. I had shortness of breath, a bad cough,  loss of taste and wheezing.  I went to the hospital and I was told I had pneumonia. Mama Hanne took good care of me and I went into isolation to recover. Cheryl, my friend was also checking in on me. I am blessed to have such caring people in my life.

So much has happened I can’t tell it all. But I thank God every day that we are strong, brave and adapting to the new normal.

I thank everyone for continuing to support our work

John Pursues Cisty Media Start-Up

John Pursues Cisty Media Start-Up

Written by Isaiah K, HHFL’s IT & Communications admin

When I met John for the 1st time in 2012, I saw him as a calm and collected boy. His personality remains more the same. A man of few words, but very focused and attentive to detail. There is an aura around him that just makes him who he is. At that time I was trying to familiarize myself with the entire HHFL folks, both the staff and the many kids in the yard at that time. I was a youngster back then, and perhaps by default the teenagers would treat me like one of them. For the kids, I needed to get to know what each one likes, their life preferences and so on.

John was then at the tail-end of his secondary school, and usually, it is a tough age group to deal with such teens. He however was among the coolest youngsters who would willingly take part in whatever manner of team activities we ran in the compound.

His favourite spot was the art and crafts room, where he even spent time training the little ones on how to handle the paint brushes, water colours, e.t.c.

To this date, even as the mature man that he has turned out to be, he still addresses me as Teacher Isaiah, when most of his age-mates elsewhere would have simply called me by my 1st name. He is generally courteous to everyone, and I would bet without a doubt that he never picked a fight with anyone – not in the yard or his slum neighbourhood.

Over time, we have kept tabs even after he went out to college to study Graphic design and carried on with his passion for art. It has been a pleasure to get updates from him anytime he has art exhibitions and any steps he makes on the rest of his busy life. There is a time Alexandra, Lucy and I visited him and his art colleagues during an exhibition at the Karen Village and it remains a memorable meet-up.

One of his art pieces on display at the Oneoff Gallery

He currently runs a little studio that he rents from a friend whenever there is need. The rest of his unsold artwork is kept safe in his house.

Other than art exhibitions, John also makes and sells ice cream, a side-hustle that earns him some income and also allows him to hire some youths from the slum to assist with the selling.

“Since 2015,” says John, “I have been doing photography as a hobby. Then around 2017, I taught myself some videography and video editing. In 2018, I began a start-up, Cisty Media. This was intended to offer media and design services. It is a slow and learning process, but I am glad for the small steps so far.”

“I hope to grow the startup into an established media house,” adds John. “Besides, I am still doing art and this year I have been featured in 2 exhibitions”

John’s nomination poster for Sondeka Awards

Fast-forward to earlier this week. We have been trying to piece up together a short Christmas greeting video with the kids, and our shots were just not coming out right. The 3 min video end product had lots of pieces to be woven together.

We approached John and requested him to come to our rescue and within a few minutes of our Thursday morning, he had collected all the footage he needed to come out with the Youtube Video we are sharing with all our donors and friends of Hanne Howard Fund. It gives me and the entire HHFL a lot of pride in seeing the young men and women who have grown up in our hands are now mature responsible adults like John, that we even can rely on in the carrying on of our mission.

Art Pays – Turning Creative Passion Into Business

Art Pays – Turning Creative Passion Into Business

Written by Paul Sane Wanjiku, HHFL Alumnus

I have been very passionate in anything involving art and crafts. For a while since my high school days at HHFL, I have been thinking of creative ways to use art and also make money out of my creativity. The skills I gained in the HHFL art and crafts class is what I have been building on.

Around March this year, I made a big step to start a shoe decoration hustle. I started by painting 20 pairs of shoes for a friend who owns a shop in the slum. To start my own business, I needed a spray machine, brushes, paints of different colours, masking tapes and some capital to by the shoes. I used the income from the job to buy my own 1st pairs and resell them after painting.

Some time before COVID came, I was involved with stage decoration for a cinema group and the savings I had made out of this job enabled me to purchase a painting machine. I use this machine to modify the shoes to an appealing new look so as to attract customers.

Most of my clients come through social media and a few from my neighborhood. I paint mobile phone covers, shoes, motorbikes bodies and many others. On average, I buy 20 pairs of shoes and sell them within 3 weeks.

For motorbikes and some shoes, depending on the details needed, I use the spray machine. For canvas shoes I use fabric paints and a variety of brushes of different sizes.

It gives me a great satisfaction seeing that the things we would take lightly while being taught at HHFL are very practical in real life, and I encourage my young friends at HHFL to make use of every opportunity given to them.