MARCH 2017 UPDATE
WIDOWS OF WORTH
This year we have expanded the 'Widows Of Worth' project. It has grown and we are getting excited as we are seeing unity and community thicken in front of our eyes!
In January, we accepted another 8 widows group applications, bringing us to a total of 13 groups that we are partenring with. Working with such women is not just a blessing but it's a huge privilege. I'm challenged daily by their courage, their strength and perseverance.
I'm excited that we get to raise up women who do not base their value upon the labels the world has placed upon them, but on who the word of God says they are.
One of the objectives we have for these women, is to empower them to live from who is with...in instead of the world around them. In order to truly change the world around we have to first be changed within. Our goal is to help them see within, all the great plans that God has for their life. These plans are to prosper them and to give them a great hope for the future!
We then hope that they will go on to represent God by being a light in their communities, to their families and to every person they meet.
February 2017 UPDATE
CHILDREN'S RESCUE CENTRE
We can't wait to see this families transformation and these two children reintegrated back home. A few of our social workers will be working with the family whilst others will be focusing on getting these two healthy again, and giving them lots of love of course! They've just been treated at a local health facility and they are now with us at The KCP rescue centre where they will continue being monitored and start their special diet. The special diet changes the types and quantities of foods that a person eats, and where necessary, a health professional prescribes dietary supplements, such as vitamins and minerals. These kiddies are currently undernourished and we plan on overseeing their treatment and care at The KCP's rescue centre for the next 6 months. Under-nutrition is very common here due to the extreme levels of poverty. It can be a very dangerous condition.
Nearly half of all deaths in children around the world under 5 years old are attributable to under-nutrition. This translates into the unnecessary loss of about 3 million young lives a year!
Under-nutrition puts children at greater risk of dying from common infections, increases the frequency and severity of such infections, and contributes to delayed recovery. In addition, the interaction between under-nutrition and infection can create a potentially lethal cycle of worsening illness and deteriorating nutritional status.
Poor nutrition in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life can also lead to stunted growth, which is irreversible and associated with impaired cognitive ability and reduced school and work performance.
JANUARY 2017 UPDATE
January is here
THE BEST IS YET TO COME
2017 is here and oh my, we have so much to be grateful for in my life! As we close one twelve month chapter and open another, it seems that with every new year, so many of us are caught up in a whirlwind of well intentioned resolutions. It is for that reason we are not going to list all the things we want see achieved this year through the various projects we oversee out here.
Over the past few days I've asked myself (Kelly), what percentage of my life is producing something of value to God? How much 'unplowed ground' do I have that could be broken up in this coming year and then be made useful? Reassessment. This moment we are in, these few hours already gone of this new year is a good time for reassessment for me. What do I want to change? How can I challenge myself? How can I help others more? What will make me a better me?
What’s your New Year’s resolution this year? Mine may sound a little silly to some, but I’ll say it anyway. I'm inspired to go further and deeper in my spiritual walk with the Lord. I don't want to remain the same! I want to keep moving, keep growing. If I remain the same, I may dry up and wither - no longer being any use.
God has so many greater ideas than I ever will for my life and over the past few years I have had to learn about letting go and letting Him steer my path. It's hard but, through this understanding, amazing things happen! God has shown me His power through so many trials and tribulations that have shaped my life. I’ve learned that just like some need morning coffee to wake up their bodies, I need morning devotionals or time alone with God each day to wake up my whole being.
In these times, I am going to examine myself and ask God to correct me and mold me to be better at stewarding my body, shepherding my family, waging war on injustice, counting the cost, choosing simplicity, and following hard after God.
There is a season, an appointed time - a specific time designated and fashioned by God - to be born, to die, to plant, to harvest, to tear down, to build up, to cry, to laugh, to grieve, to dance, to embrace, to turn away, to tear, to mend, to love, to hate, to keep, to throw away. I want to give Him - the one who leads - all of who I am. When we bring Him our lives, He will spin and twirl all that we are until we've resolved into bursts of beauty, and we, because of that twirling and swirling, know who we are. I want more than ever, to be a new woman, shaped and readied for divine use, in God’s way.
It would seem to me that I am in the potter’s house being shaped and molded. God is holding me in His hand and like us all, He molds us through the different experiences in life. He is always making little changes and other times He fills the cracks and closes them up. And, sometimes He leaves the cracks to remain so that the glory of His presence within us can shine out through those very cracks for others to see. I'm praying for 2017 to be a year of more molding, offering my life to God once more, for Him to work on every area of my life. May I be molded into a vessel of honor and blessing.
We can come with our cracks and brokenness and He will make something beautiful out of our life. Even when we have made a mess of things, maybe by making wrong choices, God can repair and bring healing so we will display His glory. How encouraging to think that with God we are never too spoiled, too cracked, too broken. With Him there is always hope. With Him there is always another chance. Will you meet me at the Potter’s House?
This year, we hand the year to God once more. Each project, we give to Him. We are so excited to see what God has in store for His people! The best is yet to come.
DECEMBER 2016 UPDATE
GIVE FEET A FIGHTING CHANCE
LET'S TREAT THOSE FEET
*BEWARE - GRAPHIC PHOTO'S ARE SHOWN BELOW*
Tungiasis is an infestation by the burrowing flea 'Tunga Penetrans'. The flea has many common names, being known in various locations as the chigger flea, sand flea, chigoe, jigger, nigua, pigue, or le bicho de pe. Painful infections with this flea can cause significant morbidity and occasionally it can cause mortality!
The World Health Organisation has listed Tungiasis as a neglected disease of marginalised populations and has encouraged more significant research of the disease.
It is very common here in some parts of Kenya.
The symptoms of Tungaisis infestation include:
◾Bumps, lesions or nodules (in form of white or red patches with dark spots)
◾Ulceration, especially in heavy infestation
◾Discharge from the ulcer or bump
In heavy infestation, we see ulceration and fibrosis occur. Left untreated, secondary infection such as bacteremia, tetanus and gas gangrene can occur. Lingering effects may include loss of toenails and toes, even foot deformation.
Because the flea has limited jumping ability, the most common site of infection in human is the feet, especially in the areas between the toes and around the toenails. We then often see infestations on the hands and under the fingernails, due to the itching of infected areas and individuals trying to remove the fleas by hand. We have seen other areas effected to, due to families sleeping on the floors , poverty and lack of sanitation.
The KCP treat Tungaisis in the rural areas and the biggest part of our treatment process is the application of Vaseline. We smother the feet and other affected areas, in order to suffocate the fleas. This kills the flea and prevents the cycle's continuation. Education is key to seeing this awful condition disappear and so door to door follow-up is crucial! We hold clinics monthly but we could do more if we had the funds and a bigger team!
We have just calculated the number of feet we were able to treat this year, and the total comes to 669 children and their guardians. We have one trained Social Worker that literally goes out into the field 6 days a week to see transformation.
We have personally seen several children treated and admitted into The KCP's Rescue Centre over the past 3 1/2 years that we have been here, that would have died from secondary infections if the organisation had not of intervened. It is a serious condition that we do not take lightly!
Tungaisis is often called the 'devil's curse' here and f you have it, you are often marginalised and seen as 'dirty'. We want to continue seeing the quality of lives increase through this project. We want to see Tungaisis irradiated in Western Kenya. We want to see kids back at school, doing well in school and their guardians able to work.
If we had another employee that could join our GFAFC team, more lives could change for the better and more feet could be freed from this disease. To employ another worker, we need £160 a month. To run more clinics we would need an extra £100 a month. Are you able to help? Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!
SEPTEMBER 2016 UPDATE
COMMUNITY TRANSFORMATION & DEVELOPMENT
HOUSE BUILDS & SELF SUSTAINABILTY PROJECTS
I am delighted to announce that The KCP has just completed its 8th house build. Eight families, all with different stories, have been freed from severe poverty and states of desperation, in less than two years.
The transformation that is witnessed when a whole family is lifted from the dust is beautiful to watch. They are now living in safe, strong and stable homes. Not only are they now surrounded by a home that brings protection, our incredible social care team work alongside the whole family to bring family therapy, health and hygiene education and counselling, ensuring the family are equipped to manage their well-being moving forward. We also find children education sponsors so that children can attend school, a gift that will enable the children to break out of poverty in their future. We have seen whole families impacted greatly through this holistic approach. It is amazing how building a home can restore not just the practical situation, but the identity and self-worth of an entire family. This in turn transforms their future.
Kenya has thrown itself behind the fight for families, where institutional care was a simple solution in the past, we are now seeing families fight to stay together. Children are now only committed into the care of children's home when no other measures can be used to ensure the safety of a vulnerable child. Wherever possible we are working alongside family members to empower them with the tools needed to care for their own children. We have had success with so many families. The house build projects have proved to be significant part of our dream to enable families to remain together and care for their children - so thank you to every person who have given to fund the building of these homes. Our ninth house build is just beginning and we are excited for the future lives that will be impacted as we continue with this work.
The KCP children's rescue is still a vital and necessary part of The Kenyan Children's Project. It is a rescue centre for some of the most vulnerable children in our area of impact. We fight for family first, but there are cases where the removal of a child is absolutely necessary for their protection and survival. The goal for every child in our care is that they too will find family and home in the future. Every child's story is different. Every child should be loved and have a home. Every child should have education. Every child should have access to clean water. All that we do is working towards these goals. Lives are being transformed.
Thank you for being a part of their stories.
AUGUST 2016 UPDATE
WIDOWS OF WORTH
WE'VE STARTED THREE WIDOWS SELF HELPS GROUPS
Today was another day to remember as The KCP & CTF officially started the GOAT PROJECT! It was incredibly exciting as we have begun partnering with the 70 widows on a deeper level, through a 'table banking' initiative, the goat project and with educational and spiritual workshops. Today, 15 goats were given out to our 'Kabras WOW Self Help Group' women.
Supporters from the UK, who very generously donated towards purchasing goats for our goat scheme, the time has now come! From ...the initial 14 gorgeous goats that were purchased, breeding began and our numbers quite rapidly increased. Reaching 32 'mbuzi' we knew and, were eager to begin. It has been 3 months since we began our 3 'Widows of Worth' groups and their smiles get bigger every time we meet. Each group so gratefully and with a lot of noise, received 5 goats, of which were then given to the 5 most vulnerable women.
The lovely ladies will be given the tools and knowledge on how to farm these cuties and we hope that soon, each member will own their own goat. There are 70 women altogether over the 3 groups, however at the rate the goats have been 'mingling', we doubt it will take too long for each woman to have their own. The groups will give back their first offspring to the charity (so only 1 goat per group), In order for us to continue the cycle of giving more goats to other widows and vulnerable families we work with. The project aims to help the groups to become more self sustainable. Down the line, after lots of rotating of goats and lots of breeding and drinking of milk, the groups (with the charities guidance) can each decide whether they want to sell some of their goats in order to use the money in their table banking initiative, or to buy a cows! The possibilities are endless.
It is going to be a lot of fun and we hope that through this scheme, the widow's quality of lives will increase and that we will see transformation within each home as their stories become beautiful testimonies!
It was our privilege to be able to represent all the supporters and The KCP Directorship, by giving each self help group a certificate of which we were able to name the individual groups after virtues from within Proverbs 31; 'Beauty', 'Wisdom' and 'Strength'. Another certificate was then given to unify the 3 groups, of which they are called 'Proverbs 31'. It was a very very beautiful day and the noises and sounds that the widows made today, as they rejoiced, were noises and sounds we shall always remember!
JULY 2016 UPDATE
DAYS TO LIVE
Moses, one of our miracles, who at 9 years old is the height of an average 5 year old. Found locked up in a poorly ventilated, dusty room Moses’ sunken eyes reflected his severely malnourished body and physical environment. At the point he was found, his 13kg body was riddled with Tungiasis (an infectious and immobilising sand flea) to the extent that he was unable to walk.
His mother had left when he was only a couple of years old and his alcohol-dependent father, sadly struggled with parenting alone. Moses was kept in confinement much of his life, the room only being opened in the evenings, when Moses was given food. Professional institutions and locals had attempted to intervene on occasions, however the hostile environment meant that they had given up, feeling the situation was too complex and the extent of damage to Moses’ body, too great.
We made a decison that we would not give up on Moses, whatever measures were required to see him well again. Persistence on the KCP teams’ part, in consultation with the area chief, and local authorities saw Moses moved from his lock-up to a local hospital where two weeks of treatment began to tackle his severe case of tungiasis and malnutrition. Moses weighed the same as an average 4 year old! It was clear however that this was just the start of Moses’ journey to restoration. The affects of social exclusion and the emotional damage he had endured have meant that he is now learning to communicate properly for the first time. His needs are quite vast currently.
Moses was welcomed into the Kenyan Children Project's rescue centre, where he will be cared for until we find a permanent and safe environment for him to live in. He is loved, cherished, and cared for. Moses now sleeps safely on a bed under a mosquito net, receiving all the meals he needs. Already Moses is a different child, so smiley and full of life.
Looking at Moses today and you will see a thriving child, who is excelling at integrating with his peers who adore his unique personality. It's amazing to see in person the change to the tiny child that came in just a few months ago. And although he is still learning to develop his speech, his eyes dance with joy and he claps along animatedly as the KCP children sing songs. Thank you to you all who support the KCP- you are literally providing these children with the opportunity to belong and be loved back to the life.
This year we have admitted five new children to the rescue centre and the transformation of each individual is seriously so precious! They have a new found hope.
JULY 2016 UPDATE
WORKING TOWARDS REUNIFICATION
In 2014, we Strong's created and kick started the reintegration programme within The KCP's Children's Rescue Centre. What does this mean? Well, it means that we seek to reunite each chid back with their family, or their extended family if we can resolve the issues that originally created the child to be so vulnerable.
Reintegration refers to the process of reuniting a displaced, trafficked, orphaned, or abandoned child that has been under the temporary care of The KCP back with their family or extended family members. This involves ensuring that the situation at the home is stable and the child’s needs can be met in a caring environment. We are committed to the safety, health and happiness of the rescued children in The KCP's care. The UN Convention on the Rights of a Child indicate that the best place for their psychosocial development is with their family or community of origin. We Strong's share this stance and, where possible, we strive to return these vulnerable, isolated children from short-term housing back into a network of familial support and security.
Many of the children that The KCP support have been orphaned, survived homelessness, severe abuse, extreme poverty, neglect or abandonment. These children are now being loved back to life; they are receiving education and are no longer abandoned but are learning that they belong. For most cases, we hope and pray that as we work with the families and the children, individually and separately; that we can reunite children with their families as soon as possible. Sometimes, sadly we are unable to place a child back.
We are currently working towards repatriating eight more children by the end of this year.
JAN - JUNE 2016 UPDATE
THIS YEARS STATISTICS
*WARNING - GRAPHIC PHOTO'S - the below pictures are unpleasant and may you may wish to choose not to view them.
One of our big ongoing projects works to treat the problem of Tungiasis (known locally as Jiggers) in Western Kenya. Tungiasis is a flea that lives in dusty ground and buries into the flesh. Left untreated, it can cause immobility, loss of limbs or even death due to secondary infections.
But Tungiasis is easy to treat! In most cases, the feet simply need to be cleaned, soaked in antiseptic and covered with petroleum jelly in order to suffocate the Tunga Penetran. This process is repeated numerous times until the cycle of Tungiasis has ended and the feet have healed. Not owning shoes is also a major contributory factor in this problem continuing, so we make sure everyone treated is also given a pair of shoes, to prevent further infection.
The impact of this treatment is enormous, as when an adult suffers with Tungiasis he or she cannot work, and is often shamed by the local community, left unable to care for their family. The disease is misunderstood and therefore education is crucial, as otherwise it can be seen as a curse, or simply ‘poor man’s disease’. Misunderstanding about the disease causes isolation at a time when support from the community is crucial. The treatment of Tungiasis can therefore restore not just the health but also the entire livelihood of individuals and families.
When a child is treated they are given a pot of petroleum jelly to take home with them, and are told they will only receive another one, when they bring back the empty pot, with evidence that their feet are getting better. This shows it has not been sold and has been used for their own feet and also encourages those receiving help to partner with us for the improvement of their health.
We are pleased to report some amazing statistics of success in treating Tungiasis in our local area in Kenya.
Our regional treatment programmes have continued regularly in the communities of Shivakala, Mundulu and Kabras, where monthly clinics are held at local schools in these three areas. Between January and June 2016, 348 children were treated at these pop up clinics. We have found the number of children infected has dropped by 2/3 since follow up treatment. We have also seen a number of children successfully treated using this method who other doctors and clinics had been unable to help.
We have seen enormous progress in the community of Shivakala, where we have been working to eradicate Tungiasis for the last three years. We have concreted school floors and been running treatment clinics regularly. We have noticed that the number of children with severe Tungiasis in the area has dramatically decreased. Instead of seeing many severe cases, we are now seeing almost none.
Our social care teams are also treating individual adults and children for Tungiasis regularly as part of their community visits. Our social workers (who we also call our ‘Life Changers’) regularly visit remote rural communities, identifying those in need of assistance. They work with particularly vulnerable individuals and families, providing family therapy, health and hygiene education, as well as counselling and general life skills training. Through this ongoing work we have identified and treated 32 adults between January-June 2016 who were suffering with severe cases of Tungiasis. The work has continued at the same pace since June so we are looking forward to our next six months statistics being collated at the end of the year to assess further progress in the area.
Thank you so much to those who have specifically supported this programme, for being part of this journey. So many children have the ability to run, play and enjoy their childhood because of your help. We could not help them without you!
APRIL 2016 UPDATE
COMMUNITY TRANSFORMATION & DEVELOPMENT
HOUSE BUILDS & SELF SUSTAINABILTY PROJECTS
Everyone needs a home, a place to belong and be at peace. Many of the children we work alongside do not have a home; some are sleeping in potato sacks on shop verandas, others travel from town to town looking for somewhere safe to find rest. Of those that do have homes, some live in conditions which are very unsafe or unstable.
But something is being done to change this! At The Kenyan Children's Project we are on a mission to provide homes for vulnerable children and families. Since last year we have been urging people to come forward and partner with the work we are doing to bring change through house build projects and one - to - one therapy and life skills training with the families.
We are now on house build number seven and God showed me three other ridiculously desperate families that I believe we will build houses for by the end of this year. God just has to do something, He will provide!
SEPTEMBER 2015 UPDATE
COMMUNITY TRANSFORMATION & DEVELOPMENT
TAKING HOPE TO THE HOPELESS TOGETHER
During another day of home visits at the beginning of this month, we decided to go and see one of the vulnerable family's that we have been evaluating since April. With our social care team, we have been monitoring the family who live in a rural village we have done several community projects in called Mundulu. This family live in ABSOLUTE poverty.
The picture here shows the little boy desperate and wanting love and attention from Jono. As soon as we entered their land, he literally ran up to Jono and climbed up his legs into this position. He wouldn't let go.
The family are all psychologically challenged and we are beginning the process of getting them fully assessed by psychologists. This process will take some time and is a very different process from the processes in which we are used to in the west. The KCP (the charity in which we volunteer for) are looking for 4 educational sponsors for each of the children. An educational sponsor is only £25 a month and this would mean each child could then start school in their community and remain at home with their parents. Due to their current state, they are unable to attend school and if The KCP had not intervened in the lives of this family, the children may never be able to attend school. Being uneducated makes them even more vulnerable.
This family were living in a very small mud hut in which the roof had hundreds of holes, as it is the rainy season this means the family are always wet and cold. Their home was unreliable, unsteady and the four walls were all beyond repair. The 4 children live with both their parents at home and we would love for the family to remain together. To ensure this happens, we needed and began to think outside the box. What could we do to prevent this family being separated from one another and how could we improve their quality of life?
The parents had an old broken bed made from slabs of wood and their mattress was made from dirty rags. The children though slept on the floor and this little boy in the picture slept under the bed. We prayed that we would get to see this family transformed and we saw a picture in our minds of a new and bigger house being erected adjacent to the one in which they were living. We wished to see this happen before we left Kenya for our break in the UK. We had just over a week! What with African time and other circumstances, we did not know how this would be possible. The thing is, God is so much bigger than us and we decided to trust God for something incredible to happen! Our Father God wants us to dream as big as we can and He wants us to believe that He can do the impossible. We decided that if God has and does heal sickness and disease then He can provide a new home for this desperate family! Jono and I wanted to personally invest in this family's life and we knew that for the picture we had to become reality, we needed others to partner with us to see this family have a hope. We posted a request for others to get involved on Facebook and believed that we would see God do a miracle for this family and in a supernatural way. As we posted our prayer and pressed that send button, the money began to come in instantly and within two days we raised enough money to begin the work and see the house build project erected. Each day we visited the family and we saw their quality of life being changed through peoples generosity and unity. It was so awesome. It is awesome! Knowing that together, with God we can really change lives is simply phenomenal! This project will and has already hugely changed the lives of this family in such a dramatic way!
We were also able to arrange a traditional toilet to be built (previously they were using the bush). This will increase their hygiene levels and allow to feel cleaner themselves. So far, a 20ft hole has been dug within their compound and the mud structure that will act as a cubicle will soon be built. Cement was applied of the flooring of the home to prevent jiggers (Tungaisis) from residing within the home. This is such a benefit to the family, who have always suffered from the Tungaisis flea. It is an awful thing to be living with. Locks and bolts were applied to the doors and windows, giving them family a real sense of security, something they have not had before. Three beds, new mattresses, mosquito nets, new kitchen equipment, basins and a water tank will also be given to the family after a few more sessions of life skill training. This is something the family will have alongside family therapy and counselling over the next few months. These sessions will really be beneficial for this family. What a difference all these things are going to make to their lives! It is all about helping one family at a time and taking time out to do this is critical to developing rural communities.
The project is still being completed as there are many different stages to applying mud to the exterior walls. Presently they are on layer three. This Saturday the clay will be applied and we cannot wait to see the finished appearance, it is just so exciting!
One thing we know, God can do miracles... and our next miracle begins at the start of October! For more information, keep your eyes peeled for our next project update, soon to be published!
AUGUST 2015 UPDATE
FOLLOWING UP REINTEGRATED CHILDREN
This is the child that we were able to go and visit last week. We have had the privilege of visiting him three times in his rural village since he was reintegrated last year (2014) and, he is doing ever so well! Following up reintegrated children is essential and it allows us to ensure we have put all the things necessary in place for the child to continue life well. This boy was reintegrated with educational support and is now in his last year of primary school. We thought we would post a picture in order to show you his smile and his body language. His smile simply makes us smile and knowing he is happy and excelling at school, back at home with his mother is such a special feeling! For those who know, or who have met this boy will know he is shy. In fact, the word 'introvert' describes him well. However, this photo shows how well he really is doing. We met a boy that was full of life and joy. The transformation within this child's life is really something! We cannot wait to hear what results he gets at the end of the year, this boy has a big future!
Thank you Father God for family and for looking after your precious children!
JULY 2015 UPDATE
WOW - WIDOWS OF WORTH - part1
BUILDING ONE ANOTHER UP - BEING COMMUNITY
Our 'Widow's Of Worth' event last Saturday consisted of 76 widows, meeting in their rural village of Shivakala. It was our 6th time of hosting a 'WOW' in this specific village and we are really seeing the fruit of building relationships with individuals.
This event was put on specifically to take them a message, a message about 'community.' The message seemed to go down really well and, it opened the women up in a way in which they were able to be very open and honest within the discussion time we then had. The discussions were on how they could be a better community, how they could develop their unity within their community, and we also spoke and heard more about their struggles as vulnerable women within their society. One woman said, '...before you came, we had nothing yet, now we have at least a union in which we can meet other people facing the same problems.' Most of these widows did not know each other existed. before WOW began. Several women expressed they felt she was being listened to and supported for the first time. Many widows within this community have hid themselves away for years and others were scared of talking about their struggles with each other. The bible talks about building each other up and serving one another, this is being part of a community! We can't wait to see what is next for this village and the plans in which God has for these beautiful women. We feel lead to help them find out ways in which they can become more self sustainable as a group of widows within their society. We want to help them create the 'glue' that will hold them together. We wish to see them no longer vulnerable or marginalised. We wish to see them as a strong force that cannot be reckoned with. We are excited to see the women rise up as mighty women in their village of Shivakala, no longer victimised and marginalised. Watch this space!
BUILDING ONE ANOTHER UP - BEING COMMUNITY - PART2
Early this morning we were up and driving out of our busy town of Kakamega and onto the rural dusty roads. It was actually a little cold here this morning here in Kenya, can you believe it? However we were up ready for a day of home visits to several of the widows in Shivakala. We wanted to spend the day loving on them and their children, within their homes and within the community. We were planning on visiting around 6 homes but we ended up visiting 8. We wanted to hear more of their stories, their challenges and we wanting to hear of their personal dreams. We decided we would spend the day reminding them individually of their worth and their God given identity, as well as blessing their homes. We prayed with them and spoke bible verses over them. We went to encourage and empower. We knew that today was going to be a good day... but, it really was just so great! We feel so blessed and privileged to be able to go into the women homes and fellowship with them.
The next picture you will see is of a very special lady. The photo shows a very special moment and a very special miracle that we are believing we will see. We will tell the story of this widow (who we actually only met for the first time today) and we will keep you posted with her story very soon!
We cannot wait to see what God has in store for these widows of Shivakala and we know big things will be coming together and being prepared for our next season out in Kenya starting January 2016. Lots of planning, visioning and researching is underway! Our vision and plans for the widows and their children is expanding rapidly. We will fill you all in with what we are dreaming very soon!
JUNE 2015 UPDATE
LIVING AS AN OUTCAST
*WARNING - GRAPHIC PHOTO'S - the below pictures are unpleasant and may you may wish to choose not to view them.
Whilst making some home visits to several of the widows we fellowship with in Shivakala, we passed a home in which a vulnerable family live. This young Father was sitting on a little wooden chair and was obviously suffering terribly from jiggers. It was obvious that not only was he in pain but, it was clear that he was consumed by the jiggers that quite clearly literally overtaken his world. Unable to look us in our eyes whilst we spoke to him, we began to pray. His situation was terrible and very troubling.
We managed to link up with a clinic that we have previously worked alongside. The clinic are able to make follow ups and they are known for treating jiggers not far from this mans village of Shivakala.
Personally, we (okay... Kelly) would love to have treated his feet and we both would of loved to of spent time with him but, knowing we were leaving the following week for quite some time, it made sense that we referred him on. We were worried that his children would also end up with this condition if we did not act.
This man has suffered for over 2 years with this horrific flea and is at real high risk of getting infections. We went to visit him two days after we met and as his treatment begun. We cannot wait to see the difference when we return to Kenya in January. We are believing that this man will be jigger free, able to work again, living no longer as an outcast. We pray the community will change their perception on this condition and that they will welcome him back with open arms.
For more information on 'jiggers' and to find out more about the project 'Give Feet A Fighting Chance' that the KCP have begun to fight this horrific condition, please check out the KCP website: www.thekcp.org
Toby's treatment is continuing and we are continuing to pray for him to be completely jigger free! Join with us in prayer for him. Maybe you could take a few minutes to pray for him every week. We are believing that when we return in January we will see him working in his shamba (garden), able to walk normally again and with no jigger in sight!
MAY 2015 UPDATE
STORY OF CHILD TRANSFORMATION
MEET THIS LITTLE PRINCESS
*Due to child protection circumstances, we do not disclose any child's names on our website post.*
We are privileged to head up the Social Department within The KCP's Children's Home here in the town of Kakamega. We have spent the majority of our time here in Kenya building up a team of Kenyan employees, empowering them to work efficiently as a team, alongside the local Children's Department and under the charities mission. We set up the reintegration programme here, as well as supervising any admissions of vulnerable children over the passed two years. We also work with the team to create individualised treatment plans for each child. It has been two whole years of ups and downs but, what an amazing opportunity we have had!
Today we would like to tell you the story of one of the first children we saw admitted into the children's home. Thank you for taking time out to read her story of transformation!
Cutie Pie is still very little, she only turned three years old this April. Jono and I first met her in December 2013 when following up on her situation with our other team members from The KCP. Earlier that year, Cutie Pie's three siblings were removed from their home in the local slum due to their guardian illegally selling drugs and alcohol to the locals. The guardian was also a serious drug and alcohol user and was unable to care for the children sufficiently. Due to Cutie Pie being a baby at the time, and the fact that she was still breastfeeding, it was previously decided that her transition out of the home needed to look slightly different and take longer than her older siblings transition.
After many regular visits to the slum to spend time with the guardian, we were able to slowly wean her off of breastfeeding, this was absolutely incredible to watch. Although it was difficult to witness at times, seeing this beautiful baby girl go from being drunk and lifeless (due to the toxic things she was consuming through the milk), to becoming a sober child with a lot of character, it was precious.
The local Children's Department spent time with the guardian and many techniques were put into action to try and help the guardian start a new life, however all attempts failed. One day, a group of us entered the slum with a pastor and several others for security purposes. We found the guardian in a bad way due to alcohol. Men were lying on her floor amongst what literally was rubble. They were also drunkards, unable to walk. Cutie pie lay sleeping on what looked like a tea towel behind another pile of rubble. This place really was no place for a child. It was amazing that the guardian was now feeding Cutie Pie fruit and giving her regular milk sachets. She was no longer breastfeeding. This was a real breakthrough! We spent some more time with the guardian, we prayed for her and she began praying with us and began crying out asking God for forgiveness. The pastor lead her through a salvations prayer and she asked Jesus into her life. Although we will never know what truly happened inside her at that moment, we knew God was present in that dark little liquor smelling home.
That day the guardian gave over her last little child. She handed her into the arms of the Sub-County Children's Officer and Cutie Pie was then reunited with her other siblings at The KCP.
It was a tough day. Tougher than most we have lived. I can't imagine what the guardian felt. I can't imagine what Cutie Pie felt. Since that day, we have seen this baby girl grow and grow. She has developed a special personality and has become full of life. We really don't know what would have happened if she was still living in the conditions she was. We do know however that God has given her another chance and a brighter future. We know that God has really provided this family with hope and love.
It is unfortunate that the guardian actually passed away last year and it seems that none of the Father's were ever really known, leaving the children as orphans.
We have now linked the four siblings up with an Uncle and they have been building connections and relationships with him and his family. We know there is a future for these kids and we know that God has amazing plans for each of them.
We Strong's have been so privileged to have been a part of their journey, love on them through their pain and see them be loved back to life again. We have been overwhelmed with the way they have also loved on us and given us joy. They are a family we will never forget, these are memories we will have forever and moments that we shall always treasure. Every hug has been precious! We cannot wait to see what God does in their lives, what paths they are taken on and the journey they will each walk.
Please pray for them as they build relationships with their wider family members, please pray that God will provide a way for them to eventually be reunited with their family. Please pray for Cutie Pie, who really is extremely cute, that she will grow to know her Heavenly Father and that she will know the love that surrounds her.
We are so thankful for the work that The KCP do and for each child's transformation that we have been able to witness and be a part of. She is truly a joy to all those she surrounds.
APRIL 2015 UPDATE
WOW - Widows Of Worth
we had our FIRST WIDOWS OUTREACH EVENT IN the RURAL AREA OF KABRAS, 291 widows attended!
During the month of April we hosted our first ever WOW event in the rural area of Kabras. Kabras is the location in which The Kenyan Children's Project have just purchased new land. Our aim in introducing WOW to this community was to show the widows that they are loved and valued by their Father God. We often learn that people's perceptions of us are that we are here for children and children only. We truly believe that God wanted to reveal His love that day. We registered 291 widows and it was obvious that the need to know Jesus within their communities was huge. The widows are vulnerable and some of the stories of what they have faced throughout life were extreme. Approximately 100 women raised their hands and prayed prayers for Salvation. The joy we saw that day was beautiful. We plan on returning to do another event during Jan/Feb 2016. We will also plan to take educational workshops to Kabras in the near future.
FEBRUARY 2015 UPDATE
Currently we are focusing on the repatriation of children within The KCP's Children's Home. We have been building up a team of employees within the charity, creating a Social Department, that is at the forefront of working with vulnerable families and children. We have created a team that consists of Social Workers and Counsellors and we hope that as the project grows we will be able to see more staff employed for this Department. The work in which they do is vital to the work in which The KCP does. Every three years the charity has to, by law, complete a new social enquiry on each child admitted and still resident within the Children's Home. The aim is to not just to gather as much new information as possible and to re-check all previous information we have recorded, but to also re-evaluate each child's family situation to see if returning the child home would be possible.
Many of the children living in institutions have at least one living parent. We believe that the best place for a child is, almost always, within their family. We therefore always give priority to reintegrating children into their birth or extended families. However, in some cases this is not possible as the birth family is not known, not willing or not able to meet the needs of the child, even with significant support.
It is important to know that when a child has been previously classed as vulnerable, or a victim, returning a child to its origin may not always be appropriate. In all cases involving children, special precautions must be taken to ensure that returning children, special precautions must be taken to ensure that returning the child home is in their best interest and that, prior to return, a suitable caregiver as a parent, other relative etc. and has agreed to take responsibility for the child and give him or her appropriate care and protection. Returning a child to its origin is not an option if it would lead to ‘reasonable risk’ that such return would result in violation of fundamental human rights of the child.
Kelly has worked on setting up processes for reintegration, she has created strategies that are being tried and tested as we speak and she has also collated documents, forms and a database in which are all tools for the Kenyan employees to do their work more efficiently. The repatriation process so far has been a real success and we have returned 25 children back to their rural homes.
Repatriation is conducted through four phases:
Phase one: Pre-repatriation: examining why child is in care, complete necessary social enquiries, careful, rigorous and participatory decision making about the suitability of family reintegration.
Phase two: If deemed appropriate, then the development and regular review of a repatriation plan. Complete the preparations for and expectations for the reintegration process with both family and child. Preparing the child, family and community for reintegration. Careful decisions also need to be made about the speed of reintegration, with some children able to return to families almost immediately and others requiring longer-term support. In preparing families, approaches that aim to build on existing strengths to address the root causes of separation have proven to be valuable. Coordinating responses from a wide range of community actors is a key part of the repatriation process. Support needs vary but commonly include skills development, economic strengthening, therapeutic support and counselling and mediation, and efforts to change attitudes to address the stigma that drove children to leave their communities.
Phase three: Carefully planned repatriation, with a recognition that the moment of first contact with family and community is an important one, and that children may have ambivalent feelings about returning home, even when they do so willingly. Appropriate documentation.
Phase four: Looking at how the process had gone one month after children had returned home. Extensive follow-up support. This commonly includes household-level economic support, which must be offered through specialist agencies. Support for children’s education is seen as vital, and both peers and siblings play a crucial role in successful reintegration. Given the overarching shift to a systems approach to protecting children, follow-up support is increasingly offered through a wider programme for all vulnerable households at the community level.
JANUARY 2015 UPDATE
THE STRONGS' VISION FOR WOW
Over the past twelve months, our 'Widows of Worth' project has hosted six outreach events in three locations. Each area was completely different from the others, however they each showed how much the rural communities in Kenya need to hear the word of God.
This year, 2015, our aim is to work more closely within the villages we have previously reached. Our desire is to be able to see the widows develop deeper relationships with God, get more teaching in and around the word of God but to primarily lead people to salvation through acting out the love of our Father.
DECEMBER 2014 UPDATE
WOW - WIDOWS OF WORTH
OVER 80 WIDOWS FOUND SALVATION AT OUR 4TH EVENT!
The sight of witnessing over 90 widows give their lives to their heavenly Father at one of the recent WOW events was breath taking in such an incredibly awesome way. Whilst leading them into a time of prayer, it was nearly impossible to continue. Seeing the desperate faces, hearing the heart felt cries out to God and watching their hands. one by one, stretching out to receive salvation... what a day, one we shall never forget!
In the rural village of Shivakala, 126 widows of all ages, gathered to hear the good news of Jesus Christ. At our 'Widow of Worth' event, we simply take the gospel to the widowed women of Kenya. We aim to empower and restore each widow's worth and give them hope. After worship, prayer and a message, the charity then provides a filling meal for them to eat before returning home. They are often given a small gift, usually a parcel of sugar with an attached memory verse.