Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Exercising David

Since we were told, a few weeks ago, that our baby David has Down’s  Syndrome every effort has been made to get as much information as we can to give him the best start in life.
With the help of the Down’s Syndrome Association in the UK, I was able to access so many useful resources to send to Sue here.
Trainee social worker Hemedi (pictured), on experience alongside our Uncle  Billy, sifted through it all to put together a programme to aid his development.
That includes twice daily exercise and massage sessions with a mum working one-to-one in a concentrated effort to strengthen his limbs and stimulate his senses.
What an improvement there has been in just four weeks. He’s blowing raspberries, responding to his name, can hold his head up and roll over.
Yesterday it was Auntie Jane who was working with him, while headmum, Prescha,  did the same with Jonathan. They always work with two babies because then David isn’t been singled out as different and all our children are equally special.
David was clearly enjoying every minute of the attention (as was Jonathan), specially when big “sisters” Rukia and Hope joined in to help.
His limbs are so much stronger and his swollen tummy has subsided, and he’s interacting with the adults and children around him.
It’s tragic that David was abandoned in hospital at birth, but a blessing that he is here with us at the Happy House.
Here we can guarantee that he will always be loved and WILL reach his true potential in life.

Santa's special delivery

Santa will be bringing extra smiles to opurchildren thanks to a special delivery from Abderdeen.
Vicky Simpson, quality assurance manager at Atlas, took on the role of good fairy by starting an appeal for gists for our 55 after she and her
partner, Shaun Windram, visited the Happy House whilst they were on holiday in Watamu in the autumn and were so impressed by what they saw they promised to help.
True to their word, Vicky and Shaun now sponsor two Happy House babies, twin brothers Peter and Paul, and when Vicky told her colleagues about the Happy House they were eager to help too.
Vicky (pictured) said: "There are five of us in the QA team but we have had many things donated from many areas of the business where there are currently 75 employees."
And bosses at Atlas, a special company which writes and develops e-learning courses for the oil and gas swector predominantly, kindly offered to meet the cost of transporting the goodies to Kenya. They were sent last week and arrived today!
Vicky said: "I have said a huge thank you to everyone who has donated. It seriously touches your heart when people are as generous as this.
"It is not even just secondhand things we have received but new toys and clothes that people have been out specially to buy.
"One of our ladies in HR has a little daughter, Gina Lamont, and she has been through all her things to give toys, clothes and shoes for the Happy House children.
"Children of Watamu is a very small charity doing remarkable work with some of Kenya's most vulnerable children which is why we so wanted to help," she added "We know that everything that has been given will go where it is intended - to the children."
Sue, who signed for the delivery, said: "This is just so generous. I just can't believe how much there is here. We are so grateful to everyone who contributed in any way and for showing our children so much love.
"A special thank you to Vicky for telling everyone about our family. We were that she and Shaun came to see us and Papa Dave couldn't believe that when he met Vicky he was talking to another Leeds United fan. It's been a highlight of his year!"
Our children come to us from the very worst possible circumstances, from poverty or neglect which is beyond belief, and we give them what every child deserves ... a safe, happy, healthy, childhood.
For those who have joined our family this year, this will be their very first Christmas and to receive a gift from Santa will mean so much to each and every one.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

My beautiful Elizabeth

My heart singing, I hold Elizabeth Anne for the first time.
This fragile little being, just a month old,  is so tiny and just so beautiful.
As she looks up at me with her huge dark eyes, I feel an overwhelming surge of pride and joy.
That Sue should give her my name, and that of my late sister Anne, who I loved so much, is such a generous and loving gesture. A gift beyond any price.
I loved her even before I saw the first pictures Sue sent to me earlier this month when she came home to the Happy House, and I have been counting down the seconds to our first meeting.
Now to have her in my arms is the best feeling in the world.
I feel sad that she will never know the mum whose circumstances must have been beyond dreadful for her to she abandoned her newborn daughter in the bushes, but happy that her home and family is here with Sue and Dave and our Happy House family - the happiest family in all of Kenya.

Lucinda takes over

Uncle Billy and Rose do a fantastic job of gathering news and pictures to send to me so that I can post a daily blog.
But I know that sometimes it must be difficult for them to fit it into their already busy schedules.
So while I am here I am giving some of our older kids a chance to be our newshounds, with Lucinda first up to have a go.
She had free rein and this is what she came up with, she also took this picture of Lynn McCluskey (right) andf me with Uncle Billy and little Johnny,
Well done Lucinda!

All washed up

Every picture tells a story and while she was out and about with my camera Lucinda captured these shots of the  daily wash.
Our children were all in new outfits for Rose’s wedding, all of them so generously donated by you, our friends, from the UK and further afield.
After a long, hot and dusty day, it was straight in the wash for everything and by this afternoon there was only one line of clothes left blowing in the breeze in the garden, while our laundry aunties were busy getting everything ironed and aired and sorted, ready to wear again for Friday when and the family party to welcome Auntie Rose’s new husband, Fred, into the Happy House family.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Our Rose - a beautiful bride

Our lovely Rose made the most beautiful bride yesterday when she married her Fred.
The ceremony in church was the culmination of three days of celebration and blessing to seal the union between them.
Due in church by 9.30am, we were at the Happy House in good time where all but our babies were dressed and ready for their big day out - everyone in a new outfit, hair freshly done, and shoes polished.
There was such an air of excitement. They were off to see their Auntie Rose, Sue's right-hand woman and a key and much loved member of our family, on her big day.
It took several journeys for Papa Dave and Uncle Billy to transport the kids, house mums and us adults - Sue, Brenda and Red Groves , their granddaughter Lucy, volunteer Coral Blackhurst and I all to church.
It was a long wait as the church filled up, by with singers to keep everyone entertained. By the time the bridegroom arrived, the church was packed and overflowing into the grounds outside.
Then the procession started, first the small attendants, then the pageboys followed by the bridesmaids. Each making a lone walk down the aisle, moving very slowly, as an usher takes his steps from the altar end of the church to meet her halfway, she handing him a can covered in the wedding colours, peach and brown, in exchange for a wrist corsage from him. He then escorts her to her place.
It's a rhythmic and charming way to highlight their role and our children were captivated  with lots of excitement, cheers and giggles when they saw our lovely friend and volunteer, Auntie Lynn McCluskey, make her entrance as a bridesmaid.
With all the bridesmaids in place,  everyone was waiting for their first glimpse of the bride.  Eventually, she arrived, our beautiful Rose looking radiant and stunning.
For Sue, who has known Rose ever since she started her charity work her 11 years ago  and has seen and helped her grow from a shy young girl into a beautiful, confident, manager, it was a moment full of emotion. I know she loves Rose as if she were her own. 
The service lasted for two hours, with our family of 40 children to think about, some as young as four, we quietly moved out of church and made our way to the reception venue where they could run around and play. The MC and do were already in place and when Sue suggested some music for dancing was happy to oblige and our African version of the Von Trapp family swung into action.
They were so enjoying themselves the time flew by and at last the guests from church followed by the happy couple, arrived, and the real party got underway.
There's so many traditions and customs that have to be woven into a wedding day here, which add to the charm. Feasting is essential and with 600  people to feed the caterers had a major job on their hands. 
Rose, bless her, found a moment to come over and greet her Happy House family, giving everyone a chance to get a close up look at her gorgeous gown which has been so kindly loaned to herby Hayley Edge, from Blackpool. Hayley, who has never met Rose, responded to our Facebook appeal and offered the loan of the dress she had work for her own wedding.
Thank you Hayley, your kindness ensured our Rose was married in the dress of her dreams.
By five o'clock our children were beginning to flag and it was time to leave the party to go home.
We had all had a day we'll remember for the rest of our lives and wish our Rose and Fred all the love and happiness in the world.
On Friday, after a few days away together, they'll join us for a family party at the Happy House where we can wish them well in our own unique way.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Sporting new togs

Our football crazy kids are sporting new kits thanks to the efforts of a Lancashire family.
From football kits in the AFC Fylde colours to cricket gear from Lytham Cricket Club plus lots of good-as-new gear from other local clubs the children are now equipped for sporting action.
Donated by the club, the kits were amongst cases full of sporting equipment collected and delivered to Children of Watamu's Happy House children's home in Kenya by Joanne Reid, her husband Peter and sons,Jacob, 17, and Maxwell,15.
They had planned a day of their holiday at the Happy House, which is home to 55 orphaned, abandoned, neglected or abused children, after reading about how former Blackpool hotelier Sue Hayward had founded the charity and built three schools before opening her Happy House last year.
The Reid family, from Lytham, launched a mini-appeal to sporting organisations, friends and colleagues, and were overwhelmed by the wonderful gifts of sports gear and other essentials they received.
Just back from Kenya, Jo said: "As a family our aim was to help improve sporting resources for the children - something we accept as normal for most young children in this country.
"We have all individually and as family developed through sport and benefited massively from the impact it has had on our lives.
"Sport is also a great leveller," added Jo.
"Our boys , privileged enough to attend a school like Arnold, need to also see how other children live. The Happy House children have all come from the worst possible circumstances - dire poverty or neglect.
" My boys thoroughly enjoyed the day we spent at the Happy House and received such a warm welcome from Sue, her husband Dave and all the family.
"As well as the AFC Fylde kits, which the kids loved, we also took other sporting equipment for cricket etc.
"But it was football that was the key. It was great to see all these kids in local football kits AFC Fylde,Blackpool and Preston kits and all in the same teams!
"Jacob took the girls' team and Maxwell took the boys' team as they went head to head in a friendly match - but it was the girls that won! Maxwell's bruises from a tackle by Janet are only just going!
 "What a great experience it was for all of us. What Sue and her charity has achieved is remarkable and to such a high standard.
"Not a day goes past when I do not thinking about you all.
"We are so grateful to everyone who helped us by donating equipment etc."
A big thank you and lots of love to Jo and all her family for going to such lengths to

Rose's wedding

Everyone is getting so excited about our Auntie Rose's wedding tomorrow. I'd hoped to post this blog from the Happy House today but my flight from Gatwick last night was cancelled, so I won't be on my way until eight this morning.
That means an 8pm arrival tonight, plus a road trip from Mombasa, so I should be with Sue and Dave by 10pm.  Just long enough to get a bit of sleep before the wedding at 9.30am.
Sue was invited to speak about Rose at a blessing ceremony in Yaa Village yesterday and tells me that she and Dave went along with a big party of our children and said it was a truly lovely afternoon.
What a busy day they had yesterday with graduation, nativity and the end of the school year ... I'll fill you in with all the details and pictures of these and, of course, of the wedding over the next few days.

Award for Sue

Many congratulations to Mama Sue on winning the Fundraiser of the Year Award at the Network She Businesswomen Awards which took place in Llandudno.
Our inspirational Sue was nominated for her incredible achievements in founding Children of Watamu and building our Happy House.
Unfortunately, Sue couldn't be there and her award was accepted by Ruth Lloyd-Williams on her behalf.
Well done Sue on a well-deserved award,sponsored by CostCo Wholesale,  and thank you to Network She for recognising her extraordinary efforts in this way.
Sue says: "It is such an honor to receive the Network She Charity Fundraiser of the Year 2011 award, sponsored by Costco Wholesale. The Happy House Family are so thrilled . This award has been given to me, but it is also for so many people who love and support the Happy House Family.
Elizabeth Gomm our volunteer UK Coordinator is brilliant, her love & support for the Happy House family never ceases to amaze us. Without her things would not run as well as they do from the UK.
 This award is for everyone who shows their love for the Happy House Family by raising funds, with quiz nights, cake bakes, sponsored slims and swims. So many ways that people support our family. We have people who know the joy of sponsoring our children on a monthly basis, they receive regular updates, pictures and school reports to enable us to pay our bills and feed the children, so much more help is still needed for our ever growing family in size and in numbers.
It is due to the kindness and generosity of so many people that makes our work with the children possible.
Thank you one and all,
Lots of Love,
Mama Sue Papa Dave & The Happy House Family xx

Friday, 25 November 2011

You've gotta pack a puppet .. or two!

I'm on my way back to see our family at the Happy House and have so many goodies for our children that there's hardly room in my case for the dress I'm going to wear to Auntie Rose's wedding on Sunday - or for the dress, ordered from here, that Mama Sue plans to wear too. Clothes shopping is not something she can do in Watamu!
But I don't mind taking second place when it means our children are going to receive letters and gifts from their sponsors or gifts from others who have opened their hearts to our family.
Like those from visitors to the Aunty Social workshop at the Super Duper Christmas Craft Fair at Blackpool Winter Gardens at the weekend.
Aunty Social, a community group which takes craft workshops out to the most unlikely places in the resort, had a table where visitors could make finger puppets for our children.
All sorts of people, of all ages, enjoyed the chance to make a puppet for a Happy House kid - and many have written messages which they've popped inside.
The puppets are so colourful and there is such a variety that I am sure they will find a place in our school where they can be used to play out stories and to improve language skills.
Caz - Caroline Fisher- organised the workshop and did an amazing job in encouraging people to have-a-go and in raising awareness of our Happy House too.
Even the deputy mayor, Allan Matthews, got the needle and made a puppet - haven't spotted one wearing a civic chain though!

Thank you, again, to Caz and to everyone who took part... you will certainly making smiles across the miles.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Party time in Ireland

Calre Mullins, a student at Carlow University, Ireland, is  staging her first fundraiser for the Happy House.
Clare promised to help our family after she visited their whilst travelling this summer and, of course, fell in love with our wonderful family.
She isvery kindly staging a  "Take Me Out" Christmas party at the Tower, Carlow, on Friday, December 9, so if you are anywhere near please pop along and join in the fun - it promises to be a lively night!

Flying visit

Their first educational trip proved just the ticket for our older pupils at the Happy House School.
They made a flying visit to Malindi Airport where they were shown around and saw first hand the meteorological department, fire station and got to look around an aeroplane.
Uncle Billy said: "It was fun for all them and girl power reigned as two of the pilots bringing planes into land just happened to be ladies!"
With the opportunities we are hoping to give our children, who have come to us with so little, the skies will be their limit!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Growing project

Thank you to Amiran of Kenya for using this article on its website. We were delighted when Chris Nzuki visited us to see how our crops are growing in the greenhouse system they manufacture and which Sue opted to buy, thanks to generous donations.
The inclusion of this article will help broadcast our message throughout Kenya and beyond.
Thank you Chris and Amiran.

Breaking news

After breaking his arms, an operation to reset it and weeks in plaster our Francis is finally and officially mended!
As you may remember the boiasterous youngster took a tumble when he did a Superman impersonation from a top bunk (not even his own bed).
He's never complained and hardly cried and been such a very good boy throughout his treatment. Now the cast has come off and Francis is getting to know his arm again!
Uncle Billy says: "Francis had his cast removed and he has been such a brave boy. He is showing his arm off, which he must have terribly missed.
"We can only hope that he stays outta trouble!"

A story unfolds ,..

This is the last week of term and also the end of another school year for our children.
They are getting ready for all the special events of the season whilst also marking their academic achievements.
The school nativity and graduation ceremony, which will be performed for guests plus families of our fee-paying pupils and any relatives of our own children who may be able to come along.
So making sure everything is spot on and that the kids know just what to do, and when, requires some serious rehearsing!
And these pictures show the cast of our nativity play at their dress rehearsal yesterday and don't they look wonderful. Volunteer Coral Blackhurst and our teachers have worked so hard to get thm ready (and volunteer DawnHeather White did so much to help too before she left for home last weekend)
Sadly, I arrive back in Kenya a day too late  ... but I'm hoping I might just get an action replay sometime while I there!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Student helps out

American student Kelsey Nichols is thoroughly enjoying working with our kids.
Kelsey, from Maine, is a third year student at St Lawrence University in upper state New York and is spending a semester in Kenya where it has its own set up.
Kelsey, volunteering with our family, says: "For the last month the students involved in my program all go their separate ways and volunteer for an organization. I was fortunate enough to find the Happy House on the internet and was thrilled that Sue was willing to have me here.
" Thus far, I have really enjoyed my time at the Happy House. The kids are so great and they are so eager to learn. I have been helping with teacher Rose
's KG2 class.
 I have been helping teach basic math.
 I am here for two more weeks and then I head back to the US.
 I am so grateful to be a member of the family and I hope to return to the Happy House again!"

Monday, 21 November 2011

Baby delights

What well dressed babies we have after a special delivery of beautiful babywear from a very generous Midlands-based wholesale company, First Steps Babywear.
They heard about our Happy House from one of their designers, Emma Hales, who discovered our family whist she and her husband, Richard, were staying at Turtle Bay on their honeymoon.
Emma and Richard fell in love with our family and as soon as they arrived home Emma told her her colleagues (pictured)  about us and how impressed she had been by how the children are so well cared for.
Emma says: " On returning  to the UK I discussed with my boss Juggy if it would be possible to send the Happy House a parcel. The whole team got involved – not only choosing babywear but also purchasing some educational books and games that they thought the children would enjoy. The company kindly paid for the parcel to be sent over to Watamu and the team are excitedly waiting for photos of the children receiving it."
First Steps Babywaer is a well established babywear supplier designing and manufacturing babywear for the UK high street and with offices in both the UK and India.
Our older children got first look at what was inside the parcel and then it was over to head housemum Mama Prescha to sort through and distribute amongst our tiny tots.
A huge thank you and lots of love to Emma and all her colleagues from our very happy, Happy House children xxxx

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Little gems bring joy

Onl holiday in Kenya from the Fylde Coast, Val Woolner and her husband Ian went laden with essentials and gifts for our Happy House family.
Sue was delighted to welcome them and to introduce them to our children.
Among the gifts were bracelets made by an art group at Fylde Community Link, where Val works, run by Janet who leads the group attended by people with learning difficulties.
As you can see, our little girls (Salama, Saumu, Mwende and Pendo (Fatuma and Lily at the back) were absolutely delighted.
Val loved all our kids but a cuddle with our special baby David really captured her heart.
Ian, who works for Hewlett Packard showed a particular interest in our computer room and has offered his expert help and advice in the future.
Thank you Val and Ian for your kindness and generosity to our family.

Auntie Lynn flies out

A favourite Happy House auntie, Lynn McCluskey is on her way back for Christmas.
But she couldn't leave without a turkey dinner so gathered with a few family and friends for a festive lunch yesterday at what she and Libby, founder members of the Watamu Girls' Club, call their office - Parks Art Deco Cafe in Stanley Park.
Sean who, with his family, runs the cafe is always so supportive of the Happy House and he very kindly brought over a complimentary bottle of Prosecco to wish Lynn (and Libby who leaves for Watamu on Friday) a happy time - but there was a catch!
In return for the bubbly Sean requested each guest make a £1 donation his favourite charity! How could they refuse?
Lynn set off early today and can't wait to be back for the last week of term with our bright and very well behaved kids!
Pictured are: Maggie Hartley, Libby Gomm and Lynn McCluskey and Sean with his collection bucket!