Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Marathon man takes a stroll ...

"It's a long way to walk," Mama Sue told retired Blackpool GP, Dr Steve Cushing, newly arrived in Watamu, when he told her he and his wife, Cherith, would take a walk down to the Happy House from their hotel.
"Sue," he reminded her " how do I raise my money for you?"
Steve, an intrepid trekker, took part in the world's most gruelling marathon, the Marathon de Sables,enduring extreme temperatures and conditions across the Sahara, to help our family, and now gives talks on his remarkable journey in return for donations to the Happy House.
Sue is delighted that Steve, who was her GP for many years and who is still a tremendous support to her, and Cherith are able to visit the Happy House and to meet the children for themselves.
A keen photographer, Steve plans to take pictures we will be able to use for displays back here in the UK.
Steve and Cherith have taken along lots of much needed items for the children - shoes, socks, Vaseline and toys for the babies. There were gifts, also, from Sheila and Michael Dickinson who were due to travel with them but, unfortunately, were forced to cancel at the last minute because of ill health and Steve and Cherith handed over a generous donation from friends Alistair and Charlotte.
Thank you, all, so much.
Prize appeal
We are appealing for prizes of bottles (anything from wines and spirits to ketchup and bubble bath) for our bottlebola, general prizes for  the tombola, and raffle prizes for our Happy House Charity Night and Second Birthday Party at Blackpool's Hotel Sheraton on Friday, March 16, at 7pm.  So if you do have anything left over from Christmas (a duplicate gift or something that isn't quite to your taste) now's the time to recycle for a good cause! Ideally we do need as much a possible before the day to give us plenty of time to get everything numbered and set up, so if you are in the Blackpool area please email elizabethgomm@childrenofwatamu.net or phone 07905 130 589.
*If you would like tickets for the evening and it's going to be such fun, tickets are £15 each from Elizabeth. Please send a cheque (made out to the Happy House) alsong with the number you need and a stamped addressed envelope to Elizabeth at 6, Burwood Drive, Blackpool, FY3 8NS, as soon as possible ... they're selling fast!
Sue and Dave will be here and can't wait to see you.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Growing venture

Growing their own vegetables is not only giving our eager young members of the Happy House Young Farmers' Club a valuable life skill, it is also proving to be very good fun.
This weekend our boys and girls have filled bags with top soil, before choosing which seeds they want to plant from a selection offered by Uncle Chris, our gardener.
Everyone has put their name tag on their bag, and must take care of it while their seeds germinate and become healthy seedlings when they will transplant them into a bed in one of the greenhouses.
Mama Sue says: "I suggested they grow something we can cook at Kookery Klub. A while ago they planted pumpkins which are coming along well so as soon as they are ready to harvest we'll make pumpkin pie together. 
"I've never made it before so it will be new to me, but i know I'll be able to find a recipe on the net!''

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Two by two

How are your times tables?  4x2=?
The clue to the answer, not that you'll need it, is in the picture.  Laura and Scott Webster had their hands full in the baby banda posing for pictures with our four sets of twins. 
Sauma and Pendo, the eldest,  followed, in no particular order,  by James and Jonathan, Peter and Paul and our latest little double act, Baracka and Armani.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Saying hi to Harry

Doug Hare and his wife Lorna are more old friends of the Happy House who are making a return visit to see Mama Sue, PapaDave and the kids.
And there's one little chap who has a very special place in their hearts ... our handsome Harry!
Doug is a member of Limavady Rotary Club in North Ireland and very soon after Harry joined our family the club pledged to support him, through sponsorship, until he reaches 18.
Harry's winning ways never fail top delight and, of course, Doug and Lorna were delighted to see him again and to see how he's growing, and toddling!

Doug, Lorna and Limavady Rotary Club are tremendously supportive of our work- they donated our baby banda - and we are so grateful to them for all they do for Harry and for all our family. Thank you.

Friday, 27 January 2012

And this week's stars are ...

Soaring to the heights of success is this group of likely lads!
And these older boys look bowled over by their Star of the Week Award presented to them by Mama Sue because they are so helpful in the kitchen.
The boys, nominated by Auntie Joyce, turn their hands, gladly, to any kitchen chores from peeling veg to washing pots.
Well done boys and congratulations.
Pictured from left are Hassan, Fikiri, Evans, Sifa, Samson and Musyoka.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Birthday girls

Scott and Laura Webster, good friends of the Happy House and special friend to little Rose, thrilled to be back in time for her birthday.
Scott and Laura, from Royal Wootton Bassett, do so much to help our family in so many ways and Mama Sue is delighted to see them again and to show them, first hand, how much has been done since their last visit.
And just before he set off Scott sent a donation of £113 which he raised at a Christnmas meal with his golfing pals from South Cerney Golf Club. Thanks to you all!
Also celebrating her birthday this week is our lovely Hope and both girls received gifts at Kidz Club.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Footballers net a cool £1,000

Howdra, a British-owned cleaning company in Dubai, has been a good friend of the Happy House for several years now and raised a lot of money to help us.
It kicked-off the new year by hosting the Happy House Charity Shield, a junior football tournament for  Under 8s and Under 10s.
On hand to cheer them on was English soccer legend, Trevor Sinclair.
Chris Howard from Howdra said eight enthusiastic teams took part, involving children aged from six to ten, and the entry fees plus a collection raised an amazing £1,000 - plus raising awareness of our work at the Happy House, via publicity material and on the Howdra and the Howdra Boys Football Club websites.
It sounds like a very happy day and Trevor Sinclair did the honours by presenting the trophies to the winning teams.
Pictured at Under 10s champions Mini Milan (red/black) with their trophy;  the Howdra Boys Under 10s (light blue) collection their runners-up medals from Trevor Sinclair, the under 10s teams, Trevor's team (yellow/blue)  and Trevor with the trophies..
Many thanks to Chris Howard everyone at Howdra, to Trevor Sinclair, to sponsors  and to all the boys who took part and to those who went along to watch. Your efforts will bring so many smiles to our Happy House kids .... who, like kids the world over, love football!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Sofa so good

Are you sitting comfortably?  The answer from our kids is a resounding YES!
The new lounge area is now complete with it's comfy cushions and colourful carpet.
The children really love it and it's a perfect place for them to chill out, read a book, watch a dvd or, in the case of Linus, to catch a catnap!

Monday, 23 January 2012

It's party time

Mama Sue and Papa Dave have have booked their flights and will be here to join us at the Happy House Charity Night and Second Birthday Party at the Hotel Sheraton, Blackpool, on Friday, March16, from 8pm-midnight.
Tickets are £15 and include a light buffet. There will be fun and games, disco, raffle and tombola as we party Happy House style!
 Anyone who would like to stay over can book in at the Sheraton Lodge, which is just round the corner from the main hotel, at a discounted price of £22 b&b per person (please specify that your are attending the Happy House Charity Night and that you are booking a room in the Lodge).  For those wanting to make a weekend of it two nights in the hotel, dinner, b&b is £65 per person.  Tel: 01253 352 723
If we raise £3,000 on the night, Santander will match it - so we're pulling out all the stops to reach our target and need all the help you can give us. 
We are appealing for raffle and tombola prizes and bottles (from ketchup to cava) for the bottlebola. We would also be grateful to anyone who would like to bring along a birthday cake - we'd like everyone to have a slice so we're sure to need a few.
Tickets are limited so it will be first come first served. 
To reserve yours please send a cheque , made out to the Happy House, along with the number required and your contact telephone number and email address - plus a stamped, self addressed envelope so they can be posted out to you, to Elizabeth Gomm, Children of Watamu, 6 Burwood Drive, Blackpool, FY3 8NS. If you have any queries or can help in any way please call Elizabeth on07905 130 589 

Kidz get cooking

Ready, steady .... cook!
Mama Sue is keen to make sure that our wonderful family of kids don't have everything done for them and that they are as equipped as they can before the time ahead when they will lead an independent life. 
Mama Sue says: "We need to do all we can so that when they are old enough to leave the Happy House we will know that can cope with the hard and difficult world of Kenya."
Young Farmers Klub is already a great success and the first crops, grown by the kids, now being harvested.
This weekend Mama Sue launched the Happy House Kidz Kookery Klub... sounds a simple idea to put into action but, as with everything in Kenya, it was far from that.
Sue tells me: "On Wednesday, Dave and I went to the shops as we need the ingredients and equipment to teach 25 children some simple recipes.
"We searched at least 15 shops in Malindi for rolling pins, mixing bowls, wooden spoons etc but were still unable to find any baking tins. Very few people here have ovens so there are no utensils on sale.
"In one shop I found a tin of Golden Syrup and how happy was I? Dave and was laughing at my reaction .. talk about simple pleasures!"
By Saturday, armed with tried and trusted Bero recipes, Mama Sue was set to take her first Kookery Club with 25 children divided into groups of five and all cooking something different.
First they lined the random assortment of tins (ones Mama has taken out to Kenya with her from the UK), before making pastry followed by a variety of fillings - treacle tart, jam tart, baked egg custard, sweet cheesy tart made with currants and cottage cheese.
After lunch everyone tucked into a pastry.
"Harry came back to me three times with his little hand held out ... I think we'll call him Oliver from now on.
"A delicious time was had by all."
Mama adds: "All meals here consist of rice, ugali, greens or vegetables. Everything looks and tastes pretty much the same. Nobody eats salad or simple steamed veg. Everything is chopped and thrown into the pot and made into a soup. So this is a real journey of discovery for our children.
This Saturday some of the children will be making buns, chocolate, sultana and butterfly, and the other two groups will be making lunch.
"We decided on homemade beefburgers, which can be barbecued outside, and salad. The kitchen staff will make the bread buns on Friday afternoon."
Mama Sue has found another cookery book and in future weeks Kookery Klub will be making spaghetti bolognaise, sausage rolls, quiche, roast potatoes with fresh vegetables.
"So many things the children have never tasted, and are so excited to be making and even more excited to be eating!"
The only drawback is equipment. So if anyone has anything they'd like to send we would be so grateful... bun cases, baking trays, bun tins,cake decorations anything that could help make the Happy House Kidz Kookery Klub more fun!
Silicone cases would be really fantastic, if anybody has some they've bought and rarely used, because they'll last and won't go rusty.
If you would like to post something out to our budding chefs the address is Sue Hayward's Happy House, PO Box 796, Watamu, Kenya, East Africa.
Thank you, as always, for caring.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Super swings

One day, when there is both the money and resources, Mama Sue would love  an adventure playground for our family.
But that's a luxury which out of reach at the moment, so instead she's come up with the best next thing to keep our little monkeys happy.
Papa Dave using his considerable charm and negotiating skills persuaded a garage in Malindi to donate some old tyres, and together with very strong rope, bought when the water tank was being installed, Mama had everything needed to make some swings.
Handyman Lanson washed the tyres and painted them white and then they were installed in the trees in the grounds.
The kids were so excited and delighted when they came out of school and saw them, and Musyoka (always the spokesman) went running into the office asking: "Mama Sue, can we swing?"
She barely had a chance to say "Yes, Musyoka" before he was off shouting to the others before he was even out of the office.
Mama  Sue says: When he got to the steps he was shouting YES, YES, and there was a stampede towards the tyres .
"It was lovely, they share so well,  each taking turns to swing, pushing others until it was there turn."

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Our family grows by four

The young mother stared ahead, expressionless, as the twin boys tugged hungrily at her empty breasts.
With no milk to feed her babies, and no money to buy any, there was nothing she could do to feed her babies.
Naked from the waist down, the two naked boys struggled fretfully. As one started to wee his urine ran down his mother's clothes but, again, she was unmoved, not seeming to notice.
This girl, aged just 19, echoes the story of so many other women in Kenya. A single mother, deserted by the father, defeated by the poverty and circumstance in which she lives.  There is no benefits system. If you cannot work, and work is very, very hard to find, you cannot eat. That is the truth that can and does cost lives.
This tragic picture was the one which greeted Mama Sue and Uncle Billy when they were called to by a local woman, respected and kind , who works as a volunteer helping families in the area. We call her the Volunteer Mama.
Sue tells the story: "We met her at place called Msabaha. We drove off the main road into the interior, until we came to a small village, where we saw this very young girl and her babies.
The mum Sauda is 19 years twins are called Amani, Swahili for Peace, & Baraka , which means Blessings. They were born on June 16 . They were wearing filthy t-shirts, nothing else. As they 
passed water it just ran on to their mother's clothes, she didn't seem to notice.
As Uncle Billy talked to the family, we were told that Sauda is the eighth born out of 15. Her own mother , whose husband has disappeared, was there and they are all living with Sauda's grandmother living in a mud & wattle hut. 
They have no means of support at all, there are no government  benefits, no family allowance, if you have nothing it really is nothing. 
For a while Sauda has known her children were starving so the Volunteer Mama was called who in turn called Uncle Billy.
As were taking all the details of the family, and getting the twins dressed for their new home, the mum just looked on but we realized one of the children stood watching us.
Alex, is two and a half, and is also Sauda's son. He, too, was crying with hunger.
We bought milk ad biscuits from a local kiosk so at least they would all have eaten something before we started our journey back to the Happy House.
Ten or so other children, all in a desperate state, stood watching so we bought milk for everyone, they drank it greedily , everyone a victim of extreme hunger.
I wished I collect them all and take them back with me. Billy and I looked at Alex, and looked back at each other, we could not leave him there. 
So he and his baby brothers are now Happy House kids.
With our precious cargo we travelled on into the slums of Malindi to find  Melis, she is an orphan who living with a very old grandmother unable to cope with the two year old. A 
neighbour  had said she would look out for Melis, but  she was running a Mnazi 
house - an area which sells palm wine, a potent (almost pure alcohol) drink made from the fermented sap of coconut palm. It was a place where drinkers, mostly men, were congregated and no place for a small child. We took some details and left with 
Melis. A  beautiful and pleasant child.
It was a day of  mixed emotions for both myself and Billy.  To take children from their mother is so very hard to do and for me to understand.
We know we are doing it in the best interests of the children, but how can a mum just sit and watch her children being taken by strangers without showing any emotion at all? 
Billy and I have the same conversation every time we rescue children from the dire extremes of poverty. Billy always says, the mum knows she is doing thee right thing for the children, without help they would, in time, starve to death.
Back home, our Happy House kids come in from school to find they have three new brothers and a sister. They are thrilled, everyone gathering to make our new family members welcome. 
It was all a bit too much for Alex, but Melis settled in straight away playing with the girls.
Alex, given love and time,  and there is no shortage of either, will soon come round and he, too, will find his feet in our family.
That's the Happy House magic. We know it works!"

Friday, 20 January 2012

What a week!

We all have those weeks when things go wrong- the boiler breaks down, the car won't start. We have a good old moan on those rare occasion when a power cuts disrupts our TV viewing for a couple of hours.
So just imagine what's it like when you have a family of 53 kids, no electricity nor any water.
That's the headache Mama Sue has had to contend with at the Happy House - the power supply went off for six days and the water pump failed!
Mama Sue tells me: "If it could go wrong it did!  We had to switch to use the generator for six days and , overworked,  that went wrong and needed a new switch and some cable replacing. 
The water pump in the well that supplies the house with washing water, cleaning and most importantly the toilets, broke and had to be taken to Malindi for repair so we used a spare pump 
which also broke.
" During the day when school is open we have 86 children and around 20 adults here ,so it was a big problem. 
"We have mains water but of course it has to be paid for, Lanson our handy man worked so hard getting water to all corners of the house. He connected hose pipes for the staff 
to fill containers to flush the toilets. 
"The washing machines couldnot be used and with 53 children it didn't take long for the washing to pile up.
The staff really pulled together and coped but it was hard. So many houses
here have no water or electricity, but with such a large family it was so
difficult for us to cope."
Maintenance of the Happy House is a constant issue. The salt air, intense sun and high humidity turn anything metal to rust seemingly over night, fabrics rot, paint peels and mechanical things are so poorly made the soon fail. All our toilet cisterns need replacing.
It's these hidden, but vital, emergency expenses that can't be budgeted for that make life very difficult indeed for our very small charity and, particularly, for it's founder our Mama Sue who has the unenviable task of dealing with them and balancing the books.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Little star and birthday boys!

My heart leapt with joy when Rose emailed to tell me the name of our latest Star of the Week. 
The coveted award goes to one-year-old David for being able to sit up unaided.
It's been a long haul to get him to this point, but, at last, our very precious and special little one has done it.
David, as you'll know, was diagnosed with Down's Syndrome in October when, after exploring all other medical avenues to find our why he was still like a newborn and not reaching the milestones you would expect, Mama Sue and Uncle Billy took him to a specialist child development centre.
With help and information from the Down's Syndrome Association in the UK, trainee social worker Hemadi went through a mountain of information to put together an exercise programme for David, to stimulate him both physically and mentally.  
The mums have been working him through it twice a day, which he and they both enjoy, and the results are astounding.
Sitting up is his latest triumph.
David we are so proud of you!
Two birthday boys received gifts at this week's Kidz Club - Katana (who is recovering well from a broken arm) and one of our Big Kidz, Uncle Billy!
Happy birthday, Katana and Billy.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Game on

Our kids are full of energy and always eager to learn new sports.
When the volleyball net went up, staff members Uncle Isaac and Auntie Velma got into action coaching the children, with Papa Dave joining in the fun. 
Uncle Billy tells me: "Volleyball is officially on our games list now and we mobilized all the machinery and resources to get the ball rolling.
" More games such as cricket and rounders are in the offing.......watch this space."

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Our lucky night

Good fortune was on the cards for our Happy House family last night when Jacqueline Winters hosted an evening of angel card readings at the Grapevine, Poulton, Lancashire.
The venue, very kindly given free for the night, is a great central location and with a line- up of excellent readers including those pictured - Jackie Rodgers, Lynn McCluskey and Jackie Winters - the evening attracted a good attendance.
Andrea Manders, who sponsors Natasha, came along to sell raffle tickets and Elizabeth Gomm was there with information about the Happy House.
The evening is on target to raise an amazing £400 for our children.
A huge thank-you to Jackie and all the card readers who gave their time freely, to the Grapevine, to Andrea (pictured in green with two of our visitors) and all those who came along.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Sitting pretty

The new seating in the lounge area is coming along nicely and Sifa, the tailor and sewing machinist, is busy making covers for the cushions which will make it cosy and comfy for our kids.
Mama Sue, always on the lookout for ways of making the Happy House ever more a family home, tells me she's found the perfect carpet to go in the TV area and is having some floor cushions made too. Can't wait to see the kids chilling out in the finished area.
What's on the cards?
Discover your destiny for the year ahead and bring good fortune to the Happy House, at a very special fundraiser  tonight at the Grapevine, Poulton le Fylde, from 7pm, when a line-up of excellent angel card readers will be giving readings (£15) with all proceeds to the Happy House. The event is kindly organised by Jackie Winters. Bar, raffle and Happy House information too. To reserve your ticket ring Jackie Winters on  0783 407 2273 or email jackie.winters@yahoo.co.uk