Monday, 19 August 2013

From a big dream to a fantastic reality

Today's blog is written by Will Gordon who, with his family, has recently returned from holidaying in Watamu for the first time since 2009.
Then the Happy House was just beginning to emerge, so this time there was much more for them to see and one little boy very excited to meet them, Musyoka, to whose sponsor family they belong.
Will, from Thorner, near Leeds, writes:
Visit 1: The return to the Happy House 
The excitement levels were high in the tuktuk  as we waited for the gates to be opened to the Happy House
2009 and below 2013
The last time I was here was in 2009 it was just one big building site and a very big dream. 
Then Sue showed us round explaining what the Happy House would be, the ethos of the home and the type of children who would living there.
 It was great to walk around with Sue listening to the plans for bedrooms, shower rooms, TV room and to hear her talking about how the place would be filled with  happiness and laughter. As the gates swung open we saw that dream has become a  fantastic reality.
 I was absolutely amazed at the transformation of the plot – the building site I had a mental image of had now turned in to the Happy House!
We were greeted by Uncle Billy and Aunty Rose who very proudly showed us around the building – we were all amazed by what we saw and true to Sue’s word, the whole place was full of happiness and laughter. 
School was in and the children were all in class. The enthusiasm of both the teachers and the pupils impressed us all (especially Laura who is a secondary school teacher!).
We met our sponsor child Musyoka for the first time and what a first impression he made on all of us – we had been warned about his infectious smile and lovely personality, but we were completely bowled over by this very polite and well-spoken young man
Both Georgia and Luke had taken the time to pick out some clothes for us to take for him and he seemed very pleased with their choices!
The day went really fast and the whole of our family managed to spend some time with all of the kids (all of us had a very soft spot for the ‘baby corner’!).
All too quickly it was time to go but we were asked if we would like to return the following Tuesday for the Kids Club meeting
Visit 2:  Kids Club
 The whole family, which includes Laura's parents John and Moyra,  were really looking forward to our second trip – we had been invited to Kids club after school had finished on the Tuesday. We arrived early to have another walk around
 Musyoka was straight over with his winning smile, grabbed Laura by the hand and demanded that he show us the greenhouses and how the Happy House grow a large proportion of the food they need (more about this later).
 It was amazing to see both the volume and quality of the produce being grown and great to see the kids taking an active involvement in the growing of all of the produce. Both Georgia and Luke were amazed to see bananas growing on a tree: “Look daddy they are growing upside down” created a few chuckles from the Kenyan boys and girls. 
Once our tour of the gardens was complete, it was time for all to head over to the banda for the weekly meeting. 
Aunty Rose and Uncle Billy went through the important notices of the day including an important message about the need to take care of the kids who wear glasses. It was made very clear that glasses are very expensive in Kenya and are not play things!
 Uncle Billy asked us to introduce ourselves which we did in turn. Laura told the children that she is a teacher in England and was very pleased with both the attitude of the children inside and outside of the classroom. 
Luke and Georgia introduced themselves to the group and I explained that the last time I was at the Happy House it didn’t exist….which drew a few gasps!
 Uncle Billy thanked us and asked all of the children if they were happy and all screamed the response of “YES!!”.
What really struck all of us was the real open forum that the Kids Club creates and  how every child has the opportunity (and is encouraged) to speak up about any issue, however trivial they may seem.
 The guys who tend the gardens were in attendance and there were a few certificates that were handed out to the older children who have been helping in their spare time in the garden. It was clear that there is a lot of enthusiasm from both the gardeners and the kids that they all want the project to succeed.
Uncle Billy rounded off the session by stating that the skills that the kids are learning will stand them in good stead should they decide to look at a future career in farming. 
All of the staff had a quick word saying what they were working on and all finished their update by asking all of the children if they are happy.
Any every time the question was asked, the answer came back with an even more enthusiastic YES!
We left the Happy House full of praise for the staff and the kids and the way they are unified as one big happy family. As we left, we promised to return to say goodbye.
Visit 3:  Au Revoir not goodbye!
 With our holiday in Watamu hurtling to an end we packed bags of sweets and headed off to say our goodbyes to Musyoka and the rest of the Happy House kids. 
As we arrived, it was clear the atmosphere was different to the previous two visits….it was Saturday and the noise levels were almost off the scale!
 As the gates opened, we witnessed what can only be described as the World’s Biggest game of football… first count, I made it about 20 a side!
 We walked inside and the kids not involved in the match were sitting on the sofas watching MTV…..the sweets we brought went down very well and Musyoka enjoyed helping Georgia and Luke handing them out. Sweets are clearly taken very seriously as the football game was temporarily postponed while everyone took one.
It was difficult for to say goodbye (it must be a Gordon trait) so we had a quick chat with Musyoka (Georgia and Luke has insisted on getting a name wristband for him as all of the kids in our hotel were wearing them). They gave him his present and promised him that we would be back in a few years for a proper game of football.
 Laura reminded all of the kids that it is important to do well at school and really pay attention to the teachers and adults.
 We  all had a fabulous time at the Happy House and I for one left with a tear in my eye, amazed that in four short years this project has risen from a big dream into a Happy House reality. Thanks to all of the staff and children for sharing so much time with us and,as we promised, we will be back!
 The Gordons