Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Home again for Christmas

Linus
Christmas is a time for families the world over to be together.
It’s not about presents, but presence, writes Elizabeth Gomm
That is why at Happy House, Mama Sue is setting a Happy House Christmas tradition by bringing those children who have been repatriated back into families, back home for a holiday.
Yesterday, around 30 children now back with relatives in the community arrive home.
When we get there one little boy is waiting on the steps leading to Mama's office.
Linus and his sister Mildred  have come via an overnight bus after a 36 hour journey from Western Kenya and Linus can't wait to greet his Mama.
Brian Hayward
As soon a the car pulls up and Papa opens the door he is in clambering over Papa, giving him a hug on the way, to reach Mama. As soon as Papa gets out, Linus settles into the driving seat to pretend to drive - just as he has so many times before
Other kids run over all wanting to say hi to Mama and Papa.
For me, to be back home with my Happy House family at this special time is ajoy.
To see kids, I remember as being very tiny when they came to us, as long as seven years ago, and who I have not seen for two years since they went home was just amazing. To see how they’ve grown and changed.
But what means the most is that they remember me and I am still their Auntie Libby.
These kids, now home for a week of Christmas fun settle in as if they've never been away. The little ones visiting and those who live here are playing together just as they always have, the older ones catching up and sharing their news. 
Peter and Paul
They’ve deck the halls with as many glittery decorations as we can find, climbing up to string streamers around the big banda where Santa will do his stuff on Wednesday.
Everywhere you look there are kids in clusters chattering.
They sort out who is sleeping where, we don’t have beds for all some will camp down on mattresses. It’s all part of the fun.
 After lunch of pizza, the little ones carry on playing and while the older ones stay behind to tell Mama and Papa about their lives in the community. They share news and experiences and talk about their schools and their marks.
Some who’ve returned  to our fold because things haven’t worked out back home, tell their stories.  Musyoka explains how happy he and his brother Francis and sister, Mwende,   were with his grandparents but of how when his teachers changed, and there were fewer, their marks were dropping and so he called Mama who stepped in to help.  They are really happy here knowing they have the love of their family too.
Hug for Hassan from Papa
Evans, one of our first Happy House kids, says he and his sister, Janet, and brother, Oscar, are now living with their auntie but still coming to Happy House school.  He says how nice it is to be back with old friends again and how they are all family. He thanks Mama for making it possible.
More kids speak – Hassan, Maria. Janet, Oscar, Rukia, Said ( who has sneaked in to join the big ones), Barbara, Keziah, Hope,, Musyoka. John , Sifa, Karembo. Samson. The list goes on.
 Without exception they thank Mama for giving them love and support whether they are living at Happy House or in the community, and for bringing them together at Christmas.
and for Maria
Teachers, Auntie Rose and Papa all have something to say to welcome the kids before the gathering breaks up and the kids go wherever they wish to go.
Throughout the afternoon, latecomers arrive. All happy and smiling and delighted to be back.
Before we leave Mama calls a quick Kidz Club to remind the kids that nothing has changed while they’ve been away. We are still the caring, sharing family, who look after each other, uses their nice words and behaves well.
She introduces them to the current Kidz Council members and room captains, with a few extra recruits to assist, and explains that they are her eyes and ears and asks the kids to follow their leadership.
A few songs, a rousing practice of Jingle Bells led by Papa, and the afternoon comes to a close.
As we leave, the kids are having fun and looking forward to a supper of rice and beef. 
Tomorrow we will be back for day 2 our festive fun week.
To make a donation to our work please go to https://www.justgiving.com/childrenofwatamu/Donate

Zoom braiders


Lytham businessman Peter Reid and his wife Joanne are back visiting Happy House .
Peter, who has been given the all clear from cancer lost his hair when he had chemotherapy, and is now set to lose it all again.
He will be having his luscious locks shaved off tomorrow to raise money for our family but yesterday  some of our girls put him through an extra ordeal by giving him braids and a cool new look.
Always ready for a new challenge they got his locks into braids in no time, with Mama Sue joining in armed with scissors.
But the cutting will wait til tomorrow, when Pete's Fro has to Go! 
Please support his effort at
https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/peter-reid8 



Monday, 11 December 2017

Festive fun starts here

Auntie Millicent - Santa's helper.
The scene is set for a Christmas week of fun and games at Happy House.
Our festivities start today when many of the kids, now living back with their relatives, arrive back home.
Some will be travelling long distances on overnight buses to spend a week here with their Happy House "brother and sisters".
It's special time for them, but also for Mama Sue and Papa Dave .
They gave these children a safe and loving home when they were in desperate need.  
They grew them into healthy, well rounded little beings, taught them life skills and gave them a believe in themselves.
They also felt the pain of seeing them leave, having made it possible for them to be reunited with relatives able to provide a home.
All hands go up for a trip to the beach

And so it will be a happy and emotional day for Mama and Papa to see their kids return to the nest, to see how they've grown and to spend time hearing their news and sharing their memories.
Our Happy House kids are ready to welcome their friends.
Today they plan to put up the decorations, decide whose sleeping where and relax.
The rest of the week there will be be activities each day, Mama held a special kidz club so the children could choose what they would like to do as this is their time together.
Wednesday is the highlight of the week as it will  be our Christmas Day when Santa will deliver!


Sunday, 10 December 2017

Stranger danger by Lemayan

There's a message in this story wriiten by scholarship student Lemayan Davis on subject: "Experience is the best teacher"
Although all kids in Kenya are taught in English, it is not their first language and nor is it used in most homes, so the standard of this essay is an illustration of the high standards in our Happy house school.

It was on Friday morning when I woke up late and tired.
The flickering rays of the sun coloured the eastern horizon orange and the dew on the grass shone brightly like broken glass in sunlight.
 I was extremely late for school and so I prepared myself quickly.
As I was going to school my mother gave me the last words ‘’Be back home early’’. 
No sooner had I reached the main road than I started running very fast as my feeble legs could carry me. The school bus had already left.
As I started  getting tired and  more tired I decided to walk slowly.
I saw a sleek, expensive car with tinted windows, move slowly by me and stop. There was a man and a woman inside the car.
 These two strangers offered to give me a lift, ‘’Could I say no?’’  Of course not.
 I had forgotten the warnings that my mother had given so many times.
I was late for school,   and I agreed. 
On reaching the school gate, the car did not stop. 
Instead of taking me to school the man drove the car another way towards the airport and you could see the car , which was going so fast, was going to collide.
A policeman  came and recognized them . He held my hand and called my mother. 
Without wasting even single minutes my mother arrived . 
The policeman explained what had happened to my mother and the two strangers were taken to the prison
 Tears of joy streamed down her cheeks as she ran towards me to take me into her embrace.
I was safe.


Saturday, 9 December 2017

Hello and welcome!

With Christmas bags full and ready to deliver when Santa comes for our early festive celebrations next week, our stores are rather depleted.
And so it is a huge help when visitors arrive bringing with them gifts of items we always need for our family.
From clothes and toiletries to educational supplies and seeds, we can never have too much.  
It's amazing just how much we go through in the course of year with so many youngsters tin our care.
This week, we have been very lucky indeed with all he gifts Brenda, Red and Chloe Groves brought with them from the UK.  
We also welcome two more visitors - Chris Ewins from Broadstairs, Kent and Safia Meniri from Paris.
Chris is staying at Turtle Bay Hotel and called in to take a look round and to meet our children.
Safia also popped in to say hello after finding out about Happy House from our website.
Safia, from Paris, was shown round by Uncle Ronald and then spent some time having fin with our kids.
Chris and Safia were both  said how impressed they were with the the high standards of Happy House and the work being done.
We like to thank Safia and Chris for the gifts they brought. 

Friday, 8 December 2017

Old friends return

Mama'loves springing surprises and some special friends were on the receiving end of her latest one.
Brenda and Red Groves have been supporting Children of Watamu charity since the earliest days when Happy House was just a distant dream.
Said
They been loyal supporters, sponsoring children , raising money and visiting almost every year - sometimes more than once! They have, on occasions, brought with them their granddaughters, Lucy, Chloe and Grace.  
Chloe, who is with them on this trip, is in Said's sponsor family and Grace, who is at university, has been as a volunteer. 
Brenda is in Charity's sponsor family, Red is in Emmanuel's and Brenda's brother, Terry, sponsor Brian and Lovinne.
As Happy House has a special place in their hearts,  they have a special place in ours.
And to welcome them we had a surprise party, organised by the children, with songs, dances, plays, magic tricks, acrobatics, fashion show and
pple bobbing. Samson and Brian were the masters of ceremony making sure that everything ran smoothly.
From the moment Papa drove through the gates, with our visitors aboard, the afternoon was for them.
Everyone taking part had a ball, but one little boy stole the limelight - Chloe's Said.
He showed himself to be a master of multi-tasking. He appeared as the wolf in Three Little Pigs and then after a quick change popped up as the loudest dwarf in Snow White. When it came to bobbing for apples he dived in to surface with a apple on his first attempt.  Not tired out, he turned up on the filed with the acrobats -tumbling about and then topping a tower of the older kids!
Mama thanked Brenda, Red and Chloe for coming to see us and for all they have brought  with them for our family.
They all told the kids how pleased they were to be here and thanked them for a wonderful show
It was a really happy afternoon for all.

Gifts galore

Many thanks to Brenda and Red for all the wonderful gifts they have brought They 
filled three
 extra suitcases and a holdall full of wonderful items for our children collected or made by Brenda, or donated by their friends.
Stationery, clothing (including lovely shorts, skirts and aprons made by Brenda), toiletries, sanitary pads, educational supplies, Christmas decorations and toys were expertly
Brenda with Charity (r) and sleepy Elizabeth
packed to ensure not a single bit of space was wasted.
Some of Brenda's friends had made donations which she paid in to JustGiving for our classroom fund.
And we want to say hi to Anne Summers who has been following what is done here for a number of years!
Chloe also brought lots of items (there will be a blog about them later) but just a thank you to her colleague  Sean for sending some of his daughter's pre-loved clothes (picture bottom right).
There were football shirts for Said and Brian, plus pencil cases and clothes and a pencil case from Brenda for Charity. 
Lovinne  (left)  received a watch brought from Brenda's brother Terry, and Red had gifts for baby Emmanuel.
Everything they brought will go into our store room to be used as and when it it needed and will help replenish our stocks which are deleted after filling well over 100 bags with Christmas gifts for Santa to deliver to our kids.
Thank you to Brenda, Red, Chloe and to all your friends for being so kind,

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Fledglings take flight

Meet the graduates.
Having reached the end of their kindergarten schooling out KG3 kids put on their caps and gowns ready to graduate to primary school in January.
And how proud we were to have five little chicks living in our family at Happy House - Natasha Thoya, Eric, Harry. Morphin, Abu, Said earning their wings.
Harry, found in a carrier bag on a rubbish dump, newborn and approx eight weeks premature, is one of them.
It was a very special to see this little boy, who I remember as such a weak little dot, breezing up to receive his certificate so full of pride.
It's thank to Mama Sue and our charity that Harry survived and that he has a childhood so full of love and happiness.
His story could have been so very different.
Each one of these Happy House kids comes from a background of loss and sadness. Look at them now. Chests puffed out with pride, their gown flowing in the gentle breeze.
They can now, with hard work, be anything they want to be.
Graduating from KG to primary is just a start.
The next stops will be secondary school and then, if they wish it to be and study hard to make it happen, university, 
Kid like these would have remained on the scrapheap of life had it not been for our Happy House.  Some like Harry, may not have survived at all,
Sue is their Mama and their mentor. She has made the impossible possible.
And you, our child sponsors and supporters, have helped her to make it happen.
Thank YOU. and huge congratulations to all the KG Class of 2017.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

A day to remember


"I never thought, all those years, ago I'd be sitting here watching kids with Happy House on the back of their t-shirts," said Mama Sue as she looked over to a group of youngster queuing patiently for breakfast at Turtle Bay Hotel.
It's 17 years, since she and papa first stayed there on holiday .
It was that holiday, in the year 2000, that changed her life and put her on a mission to transform lives of impoverished kids from the area.
It started in a local school, and has led to her Happy House where she has her own children's home and school.
This week she was at Turtle Bay for a big day out with our successful KCPE exam candidates, a chance for them  to taste the luxuries of one of Watamu's leading resort hotels.
Mama decided on a day out at Turtle Bay Hotel for 2017 exam candidates - all of whom passed.
The kids were thrilled at the prospect, and had an absolute ball from the minute they assembled at Mama's house at 8am to the time they left Turtle Bay, tired but very happy, at 5pm.
From Mama's house, the kids with teachers Mr Hamisi, Madam Doris and social worker Uncle Ronald, went over to the hotel with  Mama Sue, Papa Dave and Auntie Libby.
The kids started off with a full breakfast, choosing what they would like from the hot and cold buffet.
They were wide-eyed as they tucked into delicious food, savouring every mouthful.
Then it was time to sample the activities on offer.  
In no time they were changed into swimming gear, Mama made sure every kid had what they needed, and the hotel provided their towels.
They dived in, shy at first, but soon splashing around having the time of their lives.
The FunBase team organised aquarobics followd by a game of water volleyball.
An all action morning for the youngsters was followed by lunch in the Pizzeria where they had a choice of menu - chicken pizza, sausage and chips or pasta. There were chips and garlic bread for those who wanted them, soft drinks and ice-cream.
After lunch, they played some indoor games - table tennis and darts- before changing back into their swimsuits for more fun in the pool.
They finished up with a highly competitive game of water polo.
The day was rounded off with pancakes, cakes and drinks.
It was a day that memories are made of, for teachers and for staff.
An experience like this is about much more than having fun, it raises aspirations, gives an insight into what goes on in a hotel they will only ever have seen from the road, and of what life is like for those working or holidaying there.
As they prepared to set off for home the party gathered to say thank you to Mama and Papa.
Mr Hamisi said they'd had a wonderful day which everyone had enjoyed and that they would have many stories to tell their families and their fellow students.