Christina and Stefano Smedberg and their children Lidia, 14, and Lauri,10, have recently returned home to Italy after two weeks in Kenya - when they made a return visit to the Happy House and met their sponsor child, Elijah, for the first time.
Christina tells their story: "We visited Kenya and the Happy House for the first time a year ago and fell in love with both!
We saw that the Happy House is a place where the children are truly cared for and the money sent out by the sponsoring families is invested 100% into maintaining the Happy House and the daily needs of the kids. Mama Sue and Papa Dave and social worker Uncle Billy put so much effort in what they do. They never relax, there’s always space for new initiatives and improvement. They are simply amazing.
This is why we wished to become sponsors, and about one year ago we were “assigned” our lovely little Elijah, who was born in February 2009 .
We got back to Kenya at the very beginning of this year and stayed for two weeks. It was such a big emotion to meet Elijah for the first time; so shy….but always ready for a smile and joke.
We brought clothing and shoes and some toys to Mama Sue to distribute to the children, and a pair of trainers each for Elijah and his brother, in addition to the money (only 10€ each) to buy both of them the school shoes from the local producer.
Shoes are very much appreciated at the Happy House; now that they have the great football field, they intend to organize sport lessons, and adequate shoes are now what the kids need!
We agreed with Mama Sue that we would have a day volunteering. My husband went to work (sweat!) in the greenhouse where he learnt many techniques applied by the gardeners and helped him in many ways in the routine operations.
Me and our kids ,Lidia, and Lauri, went to the kindergarten to help volunteer Auntie Coral assisting the teachers.
I had been pretty worried about not being able to be a constructive help, I was afraid we would be more of a bother with our useless presence…but luckily my fears were swept away.
January 6, our volunteering day, was the first day of the new school term. Therefore there were some brand new children, coming from outside only for attending the school, and most of the little ones were desperate indeed as the school was a new and unknown place for them! There was much crying to begin with.
So I found myself holding and consoling all the time some little angel.
My children were busy as well, playing, helping during the snack time and lunch and making soap bubbles (bringing bubbles was a smart idea!) with their new little friends.
It was a heart-warming and intensive day!
We also passed to say goodbye the day before our return to Italy. That was a sad and difficult day, having to say goodbye to Elijah. We went out of the gates with tears in our eyes.
We wish to be able to return again to see him and to enjoy another special trip to our beloved Kenya.
In the meanwhile we know Elijah and his brother, like all the other Happy House kids, are in good hands and getting an education which can truly change the perspectives of their future."