Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Welcome Home Lynn

We are delighted to welcome Lynn McCluskey back home to the Happy House. Lynn arrived bearing gifts from sponsors and many of the other much needed items. We have decided to keep the presents until each child celebrates their birthday, to save the situation of some having presents and others not. It is difficult to explain why to these children who have had so little in their short lives already.
This is what Lynn had to say about being back with the children:-
Although I was still feeling tired after my long journey back, that all magically vanished when I walked through the Happy House doors !! My first port of call was the banada, there they were, all the beautiful babies I'd seen on the blog were playing and sleeping. Ahhh to finally get to cuddle these new little ones was a dream come true for me. Then as if things couldn't get better, it was time for the older children to come home from school, 13 of  whom I'd made friends with on my last visit. Nothing could have prepared me for the looks of sheer delight on their faces as they leapt from the tut tut's and recognised me......... Priceless!!!!!! The piece of my heart that I left behind at the Happy House was definaltley now back in place. I shall remember that feeling for the rest of my days. It just feels so good to be back..........

Baby Love

Children at Devonshire Primary School, Blackpool,  have become a part of baby Brian's sponsor family after raising £210 with a non-uniform day.
I went into school last year to talk to them about the Happy House and they made a promise to help, and they have. They have been following our progress through the blog and with updates from Elizabeth Gomm in Blackpool, so by the time they had their fundraiser they already knew all about baby Brian's arrival at the Happy House. When Elizabeth went in to talk to a  school assembly and receive to their cheque, he was the little one they all wanted to know about. Thank you so much Devonshire School for helping us. Baby Brian is so lucky to have you all as his sponsor brothers and sisters!


Sunday, 27 June 2010

Do we have a Picasso or Lowry?

I asked Kamango a local artist to come to the Happy House and teach our children how to draw and paint. He was delighted. At first he had the children just colouring in and painting the pictures we had, next lesson they will be drawing their own pictures and painting them. When Kamango was leaving he told me how much he had enjoyed being at the Happy House with the children, and would be back on Sunday. We might have a brilliant artist in our midst, but we will never find out unless he/she is given the opportunity to shine.
So many people are all so kind and generous asking what we need.
If anyone is coming could we please ask for paper, paints, brushes, colouring books, coloured pencils etc. We also need girls socks for school aged 2 to 5 years.

Jedijah is 7

Another birthday party this week, Jedijah was 7 on Wednesday. Hadijah our cook made a lovely cake, the kids just love it, all saying when is it my birthday. We gave presents of a big teddy and some new clothes, as always everything had been donated by so many of you.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Bringing in the crops

Today Gideon our gardener brought the in first crop of maize. Hadeja, the cook roasted the maize and the children devoured it. It really was so delicious. The children have asked if they can have it every day when they come home from school. We are now eating lots of our own crops, bananas, cucumbers, kale, spinach, and passion fruit . The tomatoes will be ready in a couple of weeks and the carrots maybe next week along with the peppers. Galiano and water melons are also growing well.  It is so exciting to see the food being brought into the kitchen every morning.  The house Mums are giving the babies mashed potaoes and fresh greens with mashed bananas and juice made from the passion fruit.
 Dreams really do come true.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

The Aspinall Family help the Happy House Kids

Michelle Aspinall , her husband, Ed, and there three young children will be visiting the Happy House this summer - after coming the long way to get here, around the world!
Michelle and Ed along with  Billy,10, Jack, eight,  and Maddie, four,  set off from the UK's north west on June 26 with their first stop, New York, they are then going on to LA before heading to Australia, followed by Vietnam and Cambodia, India ( for a week's rest in Goa)  before heading "home" to help us at the Happy House.
The family sponsor Samson and so looking forward to meeting him (the children have been learning a few Swahili words). They have also been working so hard to raise money for the Happy House children and we do wish them well as they set of on an amazing journey. We promise them a big Happy House welcome when they get here!
Amongst their fundraising efforts was a real physical trial for Michelle and Ed - the Wilmslow triathalon.
Here Michelle tells us all about it: "On the Sunday,  May 9, me and my husband , Ed, completed the Wilmslow Triathlon in aid of Children of Watamu.
We have been raising lots of money before we reachWatamu in August to help out  there for a couple of weeks. We are a family of five  and are setting off round the world trip on June 26, finishing in Watamu. We wanted to have a charity 'slant' on the trip and once I had read about Sue's amazing work I was hooked! The triathlon was a 400m swim, 24km bike ride and a 7km run, all reasonable distances on their own but put together....bit more demanding. Anyhow, we finished it in 2hrs 13mins, not bad for two novices, hubbie could have done it quicker but was the true gentleman and we did it together. Many many times throughout the gruelling event I thought of the children in the Happy House and the money we were raising and it did keep me going,
I thought to myself, what am I moaning about being out of breath, limbs aching, chest hurting.....it's all going to go away when I finish.  It's a different story for  the abandoned and orphaned children of Watamu and all those 'lost' children who have yet to find the Happy House.
We need to raise as much money as possible to help them and to help Sue and her ever supportive husband, Dave, to continue the work of this fantastic charity which has changed the lives of so many people, not just those in Kenya but also those people involved in the charity who have found an opportunity to be part an amazing journey.
I feel very very privileged.
To date we have raised £500 through my JustGiving page, www.justgiving/Michelle-Aspinall.com and our children and their school, Markland Hill, Bolton, have had numerous events and are still organising more events and are not far off the £1000 mark themselves alone. I would like to thank them all for helping us make our dream someone elses dream as well."'
 Michelle, Ed, Billy, Jack and Maddie. xxxxx
We will be following the Aspinall family's trip via their website www.aspinallsworldroundtrip.com What an georgraphy lesson for us all it will be! Good luck to you all.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Safe and sound

On Thursday as we arrived in Timboni on the way home from the hospital with Steve, Nancy the Children's Officer called  to ask if we could come to the office and take two children who had been brought in by the Chairman of their school. a girl,who is 9 years old, was being continually raped by her Father while  her brother aged 6 watched on. It only came to light when the boy's saw him behaving very strangely, when asked what he was doing he said it is what Dad does to my sister. The sister when gently questioned by the teacher told everything. The police were called and the children went to the home of the school chairman, the girl had been raped that very morning before she went to school.
The Father was arrested on Wednesday. After court yesterday Dave  Billy had to take the children to the police station to be interviewed and to make statements. The sister had to go to the hospital to be examined,so that a certain form could be issued, for the case against the Father.  Mama Preshca went to the Children's office with us to collect the children. As good a Billy is with the children we worried that she  would be frightened of men. Preshca told the children how lovely the Happy House is and that lots of children were there waiting for them, to play football and watch television. When we leave collect children we do not always know if we have boys or girls or indeed the ages. When we do we call home so the Mums can get clothes ready and a bed, so that there is already a place for the child. When we are nearly home with new children, we call to say 5 minutes, it is fantastic, everyone is waiting to say hello and welcome the new family members. We always tell the children you have a new brother and sister today. The kids are great they take the children and show them their place in the Happy House help them to get showered and changed. The older ones remember when they were the one arriving frightened and confused. I have not taken photographs of of these children as it would not be at all appropriate.

Busy Week

On Thursday we took Stevie back to Malindi Hospital where his ears were syringed. Oh my goodness how he screamed! Lots of gunge came out of his ears, the nurses were very surprised just how much there was. Within in 10 minuets of getting into the car he was fine and immediately seemed so much brighter, he was looking around and taking much more interest in everything. We have to go back on Monday to see the Doctor again, but we feel he is fine. The House Mums said 'We knew he wasn't deaf, we just knew !! The love and care they have for each child is fantastic.  We have a physiotherapist from the Tofique Hospital who is going to come and show us some exercises for the babies who are not as developed as they should be for their ages. Having said that changes are happening daily. Charity is now rolling over and up on her hands and knees trying to crawl and gets very bad tempered when she can't get going. Pendo one of the twins is now clapping hands, and laughs at everyone. All the babies love being in the baby walkers.

See You in Court

Yesterday we had to take all our children to Malindi Magistrates Court. The Childrens Officer Nancy, and Billy our Social Worker had arranged for all the Commital orders to be applied for.  We had to appear in court at 10am, the Magistrate read all the details on how and why the children were living at the Happy House.She then called the name of each child. The bigger ones put up their hands, the little ones waved, to say 'Here I am'  Each of us that were holding babies held them up as their names were called. Dave & I looked at each across the Court Room and wondered how has this happened to us. Here we are in the middle of Africa stood in a court room taking total responsibilty for 36 children.  It was so emotional, when the Magistrate said that the papers would all be signed and the children would be in the care of Sue Haywards Happy House, Watamu. She commented on how happy the children looked and  she could tell that they were all well cared for. We all felt so proud. The children are now legally ours.
Thank you to everyone who has helped and supported us to be able to love and care for these children, the first of many that will pass through the doors of the Happy House over the next 99 years and beyond.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Caroline Fisher helps our babies.

Caroline Fisher a good friend to Hailey Aspinall who is here with us through our volunteer scheme, gave Hailey money to buy some mosiquto nets for the children. Today Hailey bought beautifully coloured umberellas that are especiallly for keeping the flies and mossis off the babies. Two baby nests for Brian and Natasha,were also bought, they are perfect for the babies to sleep safely. Another baby walker was also bought, the children just love them.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Water Water Everywhere

I mentioned last week about how when it rains the water is everywhere in great big puddles. The Country Boy has now solved the problem. We could not afford to dig two tanks at £500 each so we had to think of another idea. At the back of the building the water has been diverted by a series of down pipes etc directly into the well. At the front they have diverted it into the garden area where it can soak away into the ground.
We have mains water inside the Happy House gate on a stand pipe this has now been brought into the kitchen to be used for cooking and drinking. 
A very generous donation from Brian Abrahams, a long standing friend of the Country Boy has paid for this work to be carried out. Brian has always been very supportive, he has sponsored Jesse at school, the boy who is on our logo for many years. Last Christmas Brian bought Pauline, his wife, a sponsorship for one of the Happy House Kids, Brian and Pauline are now in Mwende's family. They will be visiting us here at the Happy House in October, and Brian aready wants to know what the children will need. Can I have some HP Sauce please Brian??

Emailing: steve 013

Billy our Social worker, Hailey Aspinall a great volunteer that is here with us and myself took Stephen, or as he is becoming known here at home Stevie, to Malindi Hospital for his hearing test. The Doctor feels here is some hearing impediment, so he has given us some drops to use, Stevie has to be taken back on Thursday for his ears syringing and then he may need to be refered to Mombasa Hospital. So we are taking it one step at a time. Lets all keep our fingers crossed it will only be a slight impediment and something can be done to help him

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Brian weighing in

On Wednesday we had just returned from Malindi hospital with Stephen when we received a call from  Nancy the Children's Officer to say there was a one day old baby in the hospital that had been abandoned and asked if we could bring the baby home. We immediately set off on the 50 mile round trip. The Mum had given birth and within hours had disappeared from the hospital, leaving the new baby behind. He did not even have a name, as he was coming to the Happy House I was asked to name him. I have called him Brian, after my very close and lovely friend Brian Thorpe who died a few years ago.

Stephen visits the hospital

Wednesday was hectic. We had taken Stephen to the Doctors on Tuesday as we were all quite worried how floppy his head is. The Doctor said he thought it was what they called delayed milestones that is is not doing what he should by a certain age. He referred us to the physio department in Malindi. The man there was so good, he examined Stephen thoughly and he too thought the muscles would strengthen in time and that he needed special exercises. We were also told that there is a possibility that Stephen is deaf. I was devastated. An appointment has been made for the ENT clinic on Monday, so lets wait and see what they say. I have bought a baby walker for Stephen and the others to help strengthen their wasted little muscles due to the malnutrition

The Twins

The twins are still at home with us. Pendo and Samua are doing well and now feeding a lot better. The Mum is staying close by but hardly ever comes to visit. The House Mums with the help help of Hailey Aspinall our latest volunteer have put up the baby gyms so the children have something to see and touch. Hopefully they will soon be taking more of an interest in things and be less lethargic as they start to feel stronger. 

Brenda's Bath Day

Look at the expression on Brenda's face, sheer heaven!!
 Once a week Brenda is washed by Fred in a special solution to stop any insects from attaching themselves to her. There are some called tics and they bury themselves into the flesh and can be difficult to remove, Brenda would soon become very infected.
She is now in her own place, a slurry tank has been put in at the back, so that next year Brenda will not only be supplying us with all our milk but also the fertalizer for the garden.
Hopefully Brenda will have her baby in the next 4/5 weeks.

Go Girl !!

Charity just loves the baby walker, and is really getting the hang of it. When she came to us she was very ill in fact we wondered if she would have survived the week if we had not brought her home. She is now rolling over and trying to crawl, and as you can monopolizing the walker Her Grandfather called to see Charity last Friday he was amazed at the difference in his granddaughter. He said 'I gave you a dying baby and you have given her a new life.'  We all felt so proud of what  had  been achieved and to see Grandad so happy was amazing.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Hailey Aspinall arrives

On Friday Hailey Aspinall arrived to volunteer at the Happy House for two weeks. Hailey and her Mum Jackie have always very supportive of my work in many ways. They sponsor Charity and have always been active in fund raising. Hailey's younger brother Joseph and sister Emma did a sponsored bike ride raising a terrific £450 for the Happy House.
Two hours later Pendo  &  Sguma 12 month old twin girls were brought home by Billy our Social Worker. Billy has been visiting the family for the last couple of weeks after we were notified by a neighbor that the children were very under nourished and the Mum was unable to cope. On Friday we received word that one of the girls was not well at all, Billy just had to go and see for himself, he was really worried as the twins were in a very fragile condition. The Mum agreed to bring the twins to the Happy House so they could receive proper medical attention from Doctor Patrobus. The children are in a very bad way, their little bodies are emancipated, their hair is very thin and almost a red colour due to the malnutrition. The 16 year old Mum does not have any food for herself so cannot breast feed two babies. The Mum is staying with Rose and her family over the weekend so that she can be near her children, we will assess the situation again on Monday with the Doctor. It would be ideal if we could get the Mum into a community programme where she could learn a trade, maybe tailoring, so that she can at least support herself.  The children are at risk, we had to take action before one of them died, we would never have forgiven ourselves if that had happened.  I will keep you all posted as we see how the situation develops.

Hello Stephen

What a hectic day Friday was!!
Stephen was brought home to us by his Dad who is just unable to cope with a 8month old baby. Stephen is the brother of Kahindi and Fakiri who came to us earlier in the year. As Stephen has a different Dad to the other boys he stayed with the Mum. We have been monitoring the situation as the Mum has severe mental problems, she has again disappeared leaving Stephen alone, when the Dad returned from working the child had been alone for a few days. He is very undernourished and at 8 months can hardly sit up as he has no body strength, he is very floppy.His skin is  dry and peeling, but he has two lovely new bottom teeth!. Stephen is a very pleasant child and smiles a lot, but he just leans with no interest in anything. His hair is very sparce. In this picture he has been bathed and changed into Happy House clothes as he had nothing at all to wear.  We had sent clothes earlier in the year but......... well, he had nothing to wear.  We are positive  that within the week Stephen will have improoved greatly, with Happy House TLC lots of of Cow & Gate milk, and fresh fruit and vegetables. On Friday evening I was looking for Stephen as the Doctor had arrived, I said to Josephine our teacher where is Stephen? I group of 6 little heads looked up and there he was in the middle of his new Happy House sisters

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Happy Birthday Oscar

Oscar was 4 yesterday, so of course we had a party. The children were all off school as it was Madaraka Day, 47 years since Kenya gained Independence, so it worked out well.
We split the children into groups in the morning, each group helping in a different area. Green hats were in the garden, yellow helping with the chickens, red with Brenda our lovely cow. The white and miscellaneous coloured hats were inside helping with the babies, kitchen and dining area. The children had a great time, the staff were rather stressed but there we go then, they will get used to it!! Kids all over the kitchen the garden and trying to help with the chickens, who really didn't need any help at all!!  I don't want our children to become institutionalized, sit down, shut up, eat this, don't do that, which is very much the Kenyan way. They need a voice and opinions, of course as always with any children it needs to be channeled and controlled, but lets hear what they have to say, lets hear their thoughts and ideas.  We now have a regular routine planned for Friday afternoons, Saturday & Sunday's. The staff are decidedly nervous !!
Oscar was quite bemused by what was happening, and why was he the centre of all this attention? He had never celebrated a birthday before in his 4 years of life. We wrapped presents of books, colored pencils and a writing book for a 3/5 year old, plus a cricket set. No-one, including all the members of staff had ever seen a game of cricket. We have 4 great volunteers here who were such a help in explaining what cricket was all about. Having said that, all the kids wanted  to do was to get hold of the bat and hit the ball, who cared about rules & regs??
It was a lovely day, we sang, we danced, we played games, we 'Made a Difference'. Never ever do we hear the statement ' I'm bored' The children are a delight, so open, Happy and enthusiastic.
 Is that how WE used to be??