Monday, 29 March 2010

Good Bye

I am sad today to have waved goodbye to my good friends Elizabeth Gomm and Maggie Hartley, pictured here with Teresa one of the volunteers from Dubai, and Happy House staff members on the opening day.
Elizabeth, as always, has been a great support to me over the past two very busy and sometimes stressful weeks. I delighted to say I invited Elizabeth to become a trustee of the charity and she very kindly accepted.
All the friends that came for the opening day including Beverley Perkins her husband Jim, and family, have all started their journey home. We will seem very quiet now as we wait for the rainy season to start. Dave the 'Country Boy ' has been busy organizing the garden for planting the crops of maize, tomatoes cabbages and much more. The chickens have been ordered today so in the next week we will be able to start our cottage industry.
 Silas and Sue Hayes have now completed the paper work regarding the background of the Happy House Kids Rose and I will be starting to build the  Happy House families. Thank you all for being so patient but it really has taken a lot just to get the children settled and everything in place. As you can imagine many of these children have come through terrible situations, from the death of a parent to being mistreated and, yes, yes even worse.

United we Stand

It has been a real pleasure to have Terry & Wendy Burns and their family here in Watamu, along with their good friend Laurence Embler
Terry, Political Officer for the Union Unite in the North West region, is also the founder of the charity Furniture for Education Worldwide which sends furniture that is being replaced in Lancashire schools out to the poorest areas of the world.
Terry has shipped two containers here full of tables, chairs shelves, cupboards and much more.
It would have been such a waste if they had ended up in landfill, when we can put them to very good use at the school and the Happy House. Now every child at school has a desk of their own instead of sharing, and the Happy House has desks and chairs for the banda classroom, plus all we needed for the dining room plus book shelves for the early learning area.
Terry's team caused a great deal of excitement when they called into school to meet the children with Unite T shirts for everyone there plus more for the Happy House Kids.
Laurence a keen cook baked oat biscuits, showing our cook how to do it. He purchased all the ingredients needed, it was just like Masterchef! The results went down a treat with the kids.
Thank you all for being so much help, we wish you all safe journey home.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Sue & Ron Hayes

We are all very sad to say goodbye to Sue & Ron Hayes who have been here with us all for the last 3 months. Sue has been amazing! The work she has done for the registration of the Happy House is astounding. Sue has been a  marvellous mentor for Silas as his life takes a new direction as our Social Worker. He has been able to learn so much from a true professional who spent 40 years working at the highest level to help Britain's children in crisis. Sue has really set us off on the right foot. Ron has been a fantastic help too, his DIY skills are in evidence all over the Happy  House and we are so grateful to him for all that he has done, including the arduous task of organising to staff rotas.
We will all miss you Sue and Ron, and know that after three months in Watamu, where you have got to know so many people, you will be missing us too.
We thank you both so much.

Now we are three

It's Saturday already and another week at the Happy House has flown by.  And what week it has been, our family has now grown to 28 with five new arrivals.
The first was little Pendo - reunited with her older brother Samson and sister Lily. They have been at the Happy House for three weeks, but it has taken until now to establish their relationship with the baby.
With no parents to care, all the children were being brought up by their very elderly grandmother - she was unable to cope with demands of bringing up three young children in abject poverty.
With the paperwork complete, Silas brought Pendo home ... and you should have seen the faces of Lily and Samson.
They didn't know she was coming ... and what a wonderful surprise it was. Samson's little face said it all, now with Pendo there his family was complete again. I wish I could have bottled his expression, so full of love and joy.
Lily is now being a little mum to Pendo, showing her the way we do things at the Happy House. They are just so happy to be reunited. What a delightful trio they are..
It's moments like this that make the tough times we are having financially pale into insignificance.
Yesterday was the first Happy House pay day, and it was such a relief to have enough money in the bank to meet our wages bill. Our mums and aunties are doing a wonderful job with the children, as is teacher Josephine, and Country Boy Dave has all the outside staff getting ready to plant ready for the rains.
We are trying to get as much planted as we can cut down of food bill and feed the children good homegrown produce - all organically grown.
We are ordering chickens ready to start our own cottage industry, rearing them for meat and eggs. Helen Coward the General Manger at Ocean Sports has already promised us some orders as have other hotels. We are hoping the chicken business will eventually bring in enough money to cover the wages bill for outside staff.
Our staff are our greatest asset, so being able to pay them has to be a major priority.
Thank you so much to everyone, all over the world, who has sent messages of support and encouragement. We know how much you love our kids and care about the Happy House and your kindness means so much. Kind words make such a difference.
We haven't done a rainy season yet so that will be a new experience!

Monday, 22 March 2010

A New Week Begins

A new week begins at the Happy House and after all the excitement of the opening, the hard work begins again.
It's heartbreaking that although local people support and love our Happy House, so grateful that we are here to help the kids but they cannot afford to help themselves. The Kenyan Revenue and Port Authority has drained us of all the money we needed to see us through the first few months. They have taxed and penalized us every which way refusing to believe the container loads of goods, given freely by you, our supporters, were for used by children. They said everything was too good.
Even though we have shown them the Happy House, protested and appealed, all has fallen on deaf ears.
Any 'rainy day' money has gone. Our bank account has been cleaned out by greedy officialdom.
We do feel down, but we are not defeated.
As I write this to you I can hear the children at nursery class in the banda. I look out of my office window and can see the nursery teacher Josephine, as she asks a question a lot of little arms go up in the air, with kids eager to give her the answer. They are like any other nursery class anywhere else in the world. In just a few short weeks they have come so far. After a traumatic start in life, they are playing, learning and living a normal childhood. They have no need to be afraid.
It is they, my children, and others who will follow them here who will keep my spirits up . What the Kenyan authorities has done is wrong, but I can be certain that what the Happy House is doing is right. These kids deserve a safe and happy life.
We now have to raise the money to secure their future and we need your help. PLEASE can you help us by holding a fund raising event or, maybe,getting together with your friends to sponsor the wages of a 'Mum'  or 'Auntie' or by making a donation? Every penny will help us.
Towards the end of this week Rose & I start building the Happy House Families of sponsors, introducing those of you who already sponsor to their Happy House child.
Many of you have already done so much, and I know from your heartwarming messages how much you love our kids. Please help us if you can.

Friday, 19 March 2010

We've Done it Grandpa. Yes Sue we have.

Elizabeth Gomm a journalist from the Blackpool Gazette who has been such a great help to our work in so many ways caught this special moment between Grandpa & myself.
 We've done it Grandpa. Yes Sue we have.
Thank you to all of you who has made this fantastic Happy House possible.

Happy Haouse Kids & Staff

The Happy House Kids & staff sing Welcome to the visitors on opening day. We had a fantastic day, everyone had a great time. It was lovely to see all the children so happy and healthy. The difference in them in just a 2/3 weeks is amazing. Kids really do bounce back if given the opportunity, and that we are are here for to give children so many opportunities to change their lives.
Thank you each and everyone of you who have sent us good wishes, it really does mean so much to know you are all following the blog. Please continue to follow the updates over the next few weeks as we start to build the Happy House families and the children's memory boxes.

Arriving in Style

Many of the children from our  schools arrive for the party. They had also been rehearsing singing and dancing to entertain the visitors on the day. The excitment was electric, everyone was so happy.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Radio Lancashire

I was delighted to be called today by Radio Lancashire for a live interview. The children were outside rehearsing for the party this afternoon and they could be heard by the people of Lancashire. I thought you might like to see them singing, happy and healthy.

Today is our very special day

Today we are getting ready for the Grand opening, we have hired some shades and chairs and everyone is busy putting everything in order. The children are all excited and practising their songs, Welcome to the Happy House, If you are Happy and you know it clap your hands. The Mums have all the clothes ready to change the children after lunch, clothes that so many of you have donated. I can't wait to stand on the steps in front of all the visitors and say ' Please say hello to the Happy House Kids staff and volunteers March 2010!!
I have arranged for when Grandpa cuts the ribbon Andy the D.J. will play I Believe the Children are the Future. It is very emotional for me today, at last thanks to so many of you the Happy House will be officially opened.
The Dream has come true.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

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The volunteers have prepared a great banner for tomorrow with the hand prints of the children.Dave & I were also invited to add our prints, to the centre Mama Sue & Papa Dave.
Voluneers from left to right, Becci Youde, Laura Davies,Phukaka Lama and Sabrina Mallaghan.

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Sabrina Mallaghan who is employed by Easy Jet as Senior Cabin Crew  arrived on Sunday for 3 weeks, through our volunteer scheme. We ask each volunteer to raise £500 as a donation towards our ongoing work with the children at the Happy House, Sabrina raised a staggering £2,500 !!
She is pictured here with Phukaka from the  Dubai Volunteer group and Edward a member of our staff getting lots of different things ready for the opening day tomorrow.  The excitment is mounting among all of us!

Dubai Volunteers

We are lucky to have Pukaka Lama from a group called the Dubai Volunteers here with us at the Happy House. The group are organising various fund raising events in Dubai from a concert to running marathons, to help our children.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Thanks Brenda

Brenda Groves has been such a great help, she is seen here setting up the computers that have been donated . Don't the curatins that were donated by  Bob & Dawn from Swatchbox Curtains Wigan  look lovely??

Everyone lends a Happy Hand

Brenda Groves and her husband Red ( pictured) are here with us helping in so many ways. Brenda sponsors two children at school and has always been a great fund raiser with Bingo nights, sponsored slim and raffles. I know they are both having a great time.

Steady on Guys!

Grandpa Yaa and Dave set the pace for unloading the container. Grandpa at 91 was definately faster than The Country Boy!

Our Third Container Finally Arrives

Terry Burns and his charity Furniture for Education Worldwide have sent us two containers packed to the doors with everything we need from tables chairs, bookcases and filing cabinets. Terry and his group are due here in Watamu on Monday to see for themselves the difference their contributions have made.

Go for it Sue

Sue Hayes has a much needed break from the office and organizing the registration documents to bring back memories of of how to hoola hoop

Thursday, 11 March 2010

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Dr. Patrobas Kitsau Yaa, who is a son of Grandpa Yaa, has been taking care of our children from day one voluntarily. Children are always delighted to see him and happliy go to the medical room for their health checks. Patrobas brought two of his colleques  Dr. Grace Taka, who is a surgeon in Nairobi  and Dr. Arnold Woberjo to visit the Happy House and to see the difference we are making to the lives of the children.
From Left to right Dr. Grace, Dr. Arnold Dr Patroas ans Presha one of our brilliant House Mothers.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Lynn McCluskey & Josephine

This week I employed a nursery teacher called Josephine, she is great with the children they are all learning so fast. She is pictured here with Lynn helping with their sums. The children are sat in the outside banda built by Marco Narizzano and his friends last year. We are waiting for our third container to be delivered hopefully later today then we will have desks and chairs for the children that have been sent by Terry Burns and his charity Furniture for Education Worldwide. Terry and a group of friends are travelling to Watamu for the official opening and to see the difference their donations have made to the Happy House Kids.
In time we hope to be able to build more bandas to be used as classrooms.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Baking Bread at the Happy House

Lynn Mcclusky and Sue helped  by some more vounteers to bake some bread in the new bread baking machine donated by Val Black and Alistair.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Lynn McCluskey Arrives at the Happy House

I was delighted when Lynn asked if she could come out to Watamu and volunteer to help with the Happy House Kids. This is what she has to say.
I raised £650 for the Happy House project by ' Swimming a Mile to Make a Child Smile' , so I was really pleased to arrive in Watamu and hand over the money in person to Sue and her kids. I'm volunteering at the Happy House for 3 weeks to help Sue and everyone with this wonderful, amazing but exhausting experience!! Volunteers are going to be a vital life line for Sue and the Happy House. There is so much to do running a home for lots of  children , but I can honestly say anyone who does volunteer will find it's the most rewarding work they ever do. I know it has changed my life forever. Although learning all the children's names has been an undertaking for someone who was know for being bad at names. But the children are a delight and are so very happy. I'm amazed at how quickly they are settling into their beautiful new home. The hardest part for me is yet to come, saying good bye to Sue & the Happy House Kids !!!    

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Happy In Marco's Banda

Last year an Italian guy called Marco Narizzano generously donated money that had been collected from friends colleagues and family to build this banda that the children now love to play in.They are in the fresh air but very importantly also in the shade. As we get more established it will be used as an outside classroom for the Nursery children, we hope in time to be able to build some more.

Posh Reception

The children were the first to try the new seating in the reception. They are all so happy as you can see by this picture.

Happy House Bedrooms

We now have the curtains and bedcovers in the bedrooms, everything is looking light, bright and of course Happy. The curtains were very generously donated by Swatchbox Curtains.

Happy Kids go to School

Our first 3 children started school today From left to right Janet, Sifa and Evans. We have ordered the rest of the unforms and need to take them for news shoes into Malindi at the weekend.
So many times I have written about the Happy House Kids but to say to the children this morning, 'When you are asked at school where you are from, you hold your head high and say 'I'm a Happy House Kid' I felt so proud of them.