Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Our story on film

A moving documentary which brings the incredibly important work of the Happy House to life is now posted on our website.
In it our inspiration, Mama Sue talks about how her children's home is saving young lives and giving children ,born into terrible circumstances, a secure and loving home and a future to look forward to.
Also featured on the film made by a Nairobi recording crew, Innocent and Justice,  are Papa Dave; bursar Isaac Sunita Yaa; social worker Billy Mungo; head teacher Madam Rose;  teacher Mr Athmani and volunteers and sponsors Lynn McCluskey and Coral Blackhurst, trustee and voluntary UK coordinator Elizabeth Gomm , Italian supporter Maurizio.
And in the star role are, of course,  our Happy House kids!
The recording was filmed on a very special party day to celebrate the marriage of Happy House administrator Rose - we're not usually dressed in our Sunday best, with cloths on the tables and barbecued food.
You'll find this link to this 30-minute film on the home page of our website
Please share it with your friends and help to take our message of hope to a wider audience.   

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Snowtime walk in Hindlip

There was snow on the ground when the  94 pupils from the tiny Hindlip CE School, near Worcester, pulled on their bobble hats, zipped up  their anoraks and put best boot first to stride out on a two mile sponsored walk for our Happy House family.
What a contrast to the wall-to-wall sunshine our children wake up to every day - it is hard for them even to imagine what it is like to be cold!
But the intrepid children,staff, parents and carers in Worcestershire were not going to let a bit of snow put them off their mission to do their best for the Happy House which  they had heard all about from reception teacher Rebecca Mirza.
Everyone had a splendid time trampling across the frosty fields in a winter wonderland and they raised a wonderful £427.50 for our family.
Thank you everyone at Hindlip school, we think you are just great!

Monday, 27 February 2012

A sparkling success

A sparkling masquerade ball, kindly organised by Christina Young, raised in the region of £4,500 for our Happy House family.
The black-tie ball held at Selsdon Park Hotel Golf club, Croydon, had all the ingredients for a successful night with good food, great entertainment, fabulous prizes and generous guests.
"The room looked fab and everyone had entered into the spirit of the evening with their masks, " said Christina (pictured with her singer son, Rob, who entertained during the evening).
"A big thank you to Brendan for the great production and disco, and to everyone who supported the evening," added Christina, who is in baby David's sponsor family. Several  of Christina's guests pleged to join our sponsor family.
And a massive thank you to you Christina from Mama Sue, Papa Dave and all the family for all the hard work and effort you put in to ensuring a successful night, and also to all those who supported her in any way.
*Other pictures show Happy House volunteer Lynn McCluskey (right) with new sponsor Dee Pattni; Lynda Mangoro (who is in Suleiman's sponsor family), her husband Mike and Darryl Cole (who sponsor Mercy) and star guest Rod Stewart, also known as Christina's husband, Doug!


Sunday, 26 February 2012

Time to chill

The half-term holiday has given the kids a chance to chill out and relax.
While the older ones have been getting active,  rehearsing an aerobics routine for a celebration to mark the second anniversary next month, the younger ones just snuggled up for the occasional catnap!

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Moving upwards and onwards

As our family at the Happy House, under the ever-caring wings of Mama Sue and Papa Dave, grows in size and number, we have to grow with it.
The children are happy and healthy and, after terrible start, ready to run with life. The Happy House School is giving them every opportunity to learn and those of us who are sponsors will know from "our" children's recent exam results that they are learning and excelling.
It's vital that we get the primary school built so that we have permanent classes ready for the children to move into. 
Funding major projects is clearly an issue, but we have to forge ahead with the build, raising additional funds however we can. 
Mama Sue from Kenya, and Elizabeth in the UK are constantly trying to attract financial support from all sectors, businesses, trusts and charitable organisations.
Donors can be sure that Mama Sue will spend every penny donated with extreme care. Nothing is ever wasted. She's innovative and inventive, finding the best ways to stretch resources to their limit. She sees ways of adapting the building we already have, using it to it best and most cost-effective advantage, that even professional builders don't see!
Thanks to a generous donation we are able to start the primary school. It will be built on the section of our flat roofed building which has always been earmarked for development. It will make it a self-contained unit accessed by modifying a current internal staircase to give it an external entrance.
By making a few changes to existing plumbing enough toilets can be installed to cater for the school.
Like Little Chicks Nursery there will be a traditional makuti "thatched" roof, cool and cheaper... it also supports local men and women who depend on making makuti for food for their families.
Mama Sue has thought of everything and we all know that when she has a vision it becomes a reality!
Before a block is laid, she is making sure that all the materials needed are on site to ensure there can be no delays once she gives the builder the go-ahead to start.
As their Mama, Sue wants every one of her children to be the best that he or she can be. Equally, we have to keep the cash coming in so that we can continue to develop their home and school, our Happy House, to be the best that it can be.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Having a ball

Lots of love and luck to Christina Young, a member of baby David's sponsor family, who is staging a luxurious masked ball in London tomorrow to raise money for our family.
Christina has put so much hard work and effort into arranging the event at Selsdon Park Hotel and Golf Club, Croydon, and we just want her to know how much it means to Mama Sue, Papa Dave and all our family.
Thank you Christina. Have a lovely evening!

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Seeds from the States - thank you Kempsville!

At home in Virginia, USA, Mike Applebee searched the internet for charities who could use surplus vegetable seeds ... he found our Happy House.
Mike and his wife Kathleen are members of Kempsville Church of Christ in Virginia Beach and their friends from the adult Sunday morning Bible Class, and other church friends,  got together to pool their excess seeds sending a whole variety to our family including pumpkin, radish, butternut squash, acorn squash, tomato, cantaloupe, lemon and gala apple. 
Kathleen told us: "I'm happy to hear that one of the goals of the Happy House is self-sufficiency. After working in the social services  field, it's refreshing to hear that being a goal of a non-profit organisation.
"I am hoping and praying that our church will do more to help the Happy House in the future."
Kathleen and Mike were also delighted to hear about our Young Farmers' Club where our kids are learning how to grow their own ... a valuable skill in any country, but particularly on a continent where so many are starving. 
Kathleen teaches in an alternative school in Suffolk where she and Mike have introduced gardening to their own pupils.
"We grow seeds into plants, veggies as well as flowers. My kids are urban and disconnected from growing things. One was not going to try the radishes because they had been in the dirt. When I told him the carrots he eats at lunch came out of the dirt he made a shocked and disgusted face and wasn't inclined to believe me!" 
Kathleen and Michael's church is involved in helping orphans in the Ukraine, and its  annual Mission trip has visited Columbia and an Indian Reservation in Washington.
Kathleen said: "You are doing a wonderful thing for the "least of these". We plan to keep sending seeds and to be in touch from time to time. Who knows, maybe one year our mission group may visit you!"
We hope you do Kathleen and Micheal - you would find a very warm welcome.
Thank you  from all our family to you and to your friends who have so very kindly sent seeds for us to plant in our garden.
* Pictured are: Bill and Linda Dowdie with Mike and Kathy Applebee; second picture: Ryan and Shanda Feber

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Seaside fun

A  trip to the beach is  great fun for Mama, Papa, the kids and everyone in family.
At the weekend, taking time off from the kitchen and Kookery Club for a week, Mama Sue took her kids down to the beach instead.
And what fun they had playing in the sea and sand.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Top marks

The life Mama Sue and Papa Dave have created for their family of 58 at the Happy House scored top marks for pupils at a Blackpool school yesterday.
Elizabeth Gomm was at Marton Primary School talking about the Happy House to Claire Docherty's enthusiastic class, when, at the end, one boy said: "I'd give 10 out of 10!". Another chirped up: "I'd give 1000 out of a 1000!"; the competition for highest score culminated with "infinity out of infinity!
The kids showed a real interest in how and why a children's home like the Happy House is needed and were touched, and shocked, by the stories of how some of our kids have come to us and of how hard life is for many families and children in Kenya.
They were so keen to ask questions that their teacher had to call a halt - the school day had come to an end without anyone noticing!
Thank you Marton Primary for being such a lovely audience.
Mrs Docherty is pictured with some of the children and a print of the painting which hangs in the Happy House which they will display in their class.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Moving forward

Twin Jonathan is stealing the march on his twin brother James by beating him to the starting post when it comes to crawling.
Jonathan is progressing so well on all fours that he was chosen for the coveted Star of the Week Award at Kidz Club.
Well done Jonathan and thank Jedidah for helping him to collect it!
Charity night
It would be an enormous help if anyone planning to join the fun at our Happy House Second Birthday Party and Charity Night on Friday, March 16, at the Hotel Sheraton, Blackpool, would book and pay for their tickets as soon as possible. Tickets are £15 each, including a light buffet, from Elizabeth Gomm - you can send a cheque to her, made out to the Happy House, at 6 Burwood Drive, Blackpool, FY3 8NS plus your name, address and number of tickets required (a sae envelope would be great!) so the tickets can be mailed to you.
Mama Sue and Papa Dave are so looking forward to catching up with everyone here and keeping us up to date with the very latest news from the family, so we want to make it very special for them.
The Sheraton  is offering room in its adjoining Sheraton Lodge at £22 per person for those attending the event, but you must specify the Lodge when booking. Telephone: 01253 352723.
Prizes are still needed for the tombola, bottlebola and raffle so if you having anything you can donate please let Elizabeth know:
Thank you.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Birthday magic

Birthdays are very special to our Happy House children.
Before coming to the Happy House these kids were living in hunger, fear or neglect. They will have been daunted by every new day, not know what terrors or unhappiness it would bring.
Their only possessions, the rags they were wearing. 
In one case, at least, during a rescue in a slum,  Mama Sue had to rummage through old clothes cast on a rubbish tip  to find something to cover a naked child for the journey back to the Happy House.
So you can only imagine how a small child must feel when at Kidz Club, where all birthdays in any week are celebrated, their name is called out as birthday boy or girl!
Their faces beam as they go up to receive a gift and a card and everyone sings Happy Birthday at the top of their voices.
It is, quite simply, magic!
Stepping into the spotlight for that birthday magic  this week were Musyoka (pictured with visitor Thalia Venturi handing over his gift) and Lily (with visitor Sue Hayes). 
Happy birthday kids.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Baby Bird's delivery flies in

Gorgeous little dresses, bags and hairbands, each unique and made with love, have been sent to our girls by Lisa Ellis in Yorkshire, the talent behind Baby Bird's Boutique.
Lisa was prompted to make pretty dresses for our little girls after learning  about the Happy House from her friend in Blackpool, Claire Bursnoll, the equally talented crafter, "Mrs Marmalade", from Blackpool.
Claire had sent out some very pretty dresses which she had made at the end of last year.
Baby Bird's Lisa says: "I saw the gorgeous photo Claire put on her Facebook, the lovely smiling faces of your girls actually made me and my daughter cry!
"I live in Yorkshire where I work in a school and my husband is in the RAF. I met Claire when we were both stationed in Cyprus when our girls were small.
"I'll send some more dresses later in the year and, hopefully, some football shirts when my son grows a bit more!
"I really admire what you are doing at the Happy House, you must be such kind, lovely, people."
Thank you Lisa for your generosity and your lovely  dresses and your words - in you, we have found yet another kind, lovely friend for our family.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Cooking up cash

The kind-hearted brains behind Britain's most innovative barbecue have cooked up a cash bonus for our Happy House family.
A donation of £1000 from Brighton-based, BarbeSkew, will make a world of difference to Mama Sue's work as she takes the Happy House forward and develops the primary school.
Ed Wray and Carey Christoforou, founders of award winning BarbeSkew raised their donation by giving £1 from every BarbeSkew sold. Ed Wray also nominated Sue's Happy House for another £5,000 donation from the Leisure and Outdoor Furniture Association, LOFA and received the committees unanimous backing.
Ed said: "We heard about the Happy House from friends Mark and Thalia Venturi who have  seen the fantastic work Sue is doing, and who give their support by fundraising. We were touched by the way it is making such a difference to children's lives giving them a future they can look forward to."
Mama Sue and the kids send love and thanks to Ed and Carey for their kindness and for the efforts they are making to raise awareness of our charity and its work.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

From Brighton with love

It's always special for Mama Sue and Papa Dave when old friends come to visit the Happy House.
Mark and Thalia Venturi,  who live in Brighton,  met Sue and Dave in Watamu and have been supporting her for a long while, holding events in their seaside town to boost our funds.
Equally Marc, Thalia and their son Joe  couldn't wait for their holiday in Kenya to come round so they could get back to see how much things have changed since their last visit in 2011...  and also to present Sue with £1,000 they have raised, with the help of daughter, Emma, and their many friends in Brighton.
Marc and Thalia are thrilled to see how the children are growing , to meet the children who have joined our family since their last visit, and to see how the school has grown too. 
Joe (who had the honour of handing over a fistful of cash to Mama Sue),  is having fun meeting his old mates amongst our kids and joining in their games. He's very popular  an honorary Happy House kid!
Thank you Marc and Thalia for all you do for the Happy House, it means so much  to  Mama, Papa and all family. Pictured with the family is Joe's friend Ben Dawson.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Sue .. it's for you, Sue!

Whilst Mama Sue has known the Happy House had been successful in being registered as children's home with the Kenyan Government, she's had to wait months for the all-important formal certificate .
And sheer by coincidence,  when it did come it couldn't have been delivered on a better day.
Sue Hayes, a very experienced social worker who for many years north west director of Barnardo's, was a huge help to Mama Sue in the first three months of the Happy House.
Mama Sue says:  "She worked so hard on the documents needed to get the Happy House registered with the Kenyan Government. Not an easy or straightforward task.
"It was not until June 2011 that we were told our application had been successful but we still needed the actual certificate because once we have this we are exempt from tax and import duties.
"We  made numerous calls to try to get it without success. Then Uncle Billy contacted a lady he'd previously worked with who is now in the office of Director of Children's Services - success at last!
"Sue and her husband Ron, also a great help in our first three months, came to call on us with some friends when the delivery arrived. I knew immediately what it was and handed the envelope to Sue to open.
"She was a bit surprised, but then delighted when she saw it was the Certificate of Registration she had worked so hard for us to get."

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Taking a stroll

Masai security guard James is a colourful member of the Happy House family.
He's popular with the kids and a pushover when it comes to the babies ... as this picture shows!
On a quiet afternoon he takes  a few minutes away from the gate to take twin baby Baracka for a stroll around the grounds.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Saturday chefs

Chopping, mixing, rolling or washing up (even if your feet don't quite touch the floor) everyone loves Saturday morning with Mama in the Happy House kitchen.
This week at Kookery Club out kids were shown how to make a chilli,  plus some cakes and an egg custard for the baby brigade.
Mama says:
Dorothy a friend to our family came to  help with the recipes and we used the lovely baking equipment sent in tow parcels by Sheila Beelamin the UK - thanks Sheila you really have 'Made a Difference.
"Evans and Athmany, one of our teachers, baked in the outside wood burning  oven, and some of us used the inside oven. When you are 
baking for a family of 58 a lot of cakes need to be baked.. We made egg 
custard for the Baby Brigade and they loved it.
"When the children had eaten lunch and had their own choice of cake. I made the announcement that next Saturday we would not be baking. There was a groan and calls of "Why not Mama?"
"Well", I said, " I thought we could all go to the beach!"' 
"The groans turned to cheers. Uncle Billy asked which children would not be going to the beach, the answer came straight back - the ones who are naughty!  "They are right, we have to keep discipline in the family and with so many children we really have to be on the ball ! We do find  giving the children things things to look forward to makes such a difference.  The last thing anyone wants is to be left at home with the tiny babies! 
" It is hard  for us to leave any child behind but we have to. A couple of the boys had to  stay home when we went on a trip to the airport trip.
"  I looked at them and looked at  Uncle Billy, he just looked back and says NO Mama!
"I know he is right but I am sure we feel worse than the kids!"

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Your pictures please

I love this picture of my beautiful sponsor child Pendo.
Pendo is a ponderer.
You can never quite tell what she's thinking nor what she is going to get up to next.
I took this  "shall I, or shan't I?" picture during a week-long deluge in October, when the heavens opened and there as water, water everywhere.
All the family had gathered in the shelter of the banda for playtime, but Pendo, fascinated by the puddles forming on the ground outside was all on her own on by the rails doing her best to dip a toe into the water below!
We're asking anyone who has visited us in the last year to send their favourite Happy House snapshots to our webmaster Chris Franklin so that he can update our website.
Please send our pictures to:

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Something to talk about ..

Learning to express themselves in front of an audience, articulately and confidently, is a skill that will stand our children in very good stead when they reach the time they are ready to lead a life beyond the Happy House.
So a debating club in school is a very good idea indeed and is certainly helping them to speak out. They are learning the importance of thinking about and preparing what they are to say and to put forward a balanced and supported argument to help them win their case.
The first debate was on the controversial motion "Girls are better than boys" with Daniella's team going head to head against Evans' team.
Musyoka had the role of chairing the debate and keeping order!
I'd love to have been a fly on the wall for this one, but, sadly, whilst I've been told the subject, I haven't been given the result. 
I have no doubt it will have been a very lively session and lots of fun.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Safe in Mama's arms, our new baby.

Cast away in bushes, a rag stuffed into her mouth and another tied round her neck, miracle baby Esther, safe in Mama Sue's arms,  comes home to the Happy House certain of a family life founded on love.
Just a few days old, weighing 1.9kg, she was discovered abandoned in a carrier bag in undergrowth on the outskirts of a middle class estate in Malindi by a kindly passerby.
"She saw baby Esther with a  gag in her mouth a dirty piece of cotton cloth, and another one round her tiny neck," says our social worker Uncle Billy.
"Who knows her beginnings, but it is possible our angel Esther could have been born to a schoolgirl or a house-help who would have experienced severe hostility from their immediate families or employers. 
"We have come across cases where housegirls conceive with their employer's husbands, or sons, either through rape or through other forms of undue influence.  
"The perpetrators later ensure that their poor victims are sacked or are forced to abscond after being unable to cope with the frustrations meted to them daily. Their fateful terminations are done obviously without any benefits at all. It is double tragedy when these wives or mothers discover these developments. 
"Some of the poor victims end up losing their lives or sustaining grievous body injuries. 
"Desperate situations call for desperate measures whereby victims turn to abortion which is not legal and an expensive venture.
" Those who push for it end up in quacks' dens where the most likely outcome is that they will end up bleeding to death because of the barbaric means used.
" Others will deliver and suffocate the babies to death while others contend to abandon them in places where they can be found and taken to safety.
We cannot know what circumstances led to Esther's abandonment. But we do know that now she is a Happy House angel she will receive all the love and care she deserves."
The hospital where she has been treated estimated her to be five days old when she was found making her birthdate January 23 - the same as Uncle Billy's!
And by coincidence her name is Esther - the same as Billy's beloved mum.
Mama Sue invited Dr Steve Cushing and his wife Cherith, from Blackpool, who have been so supportive to the Happy House and to her personally, to name our new baby.
Steve and Cherith, who were making their first visit to our family, chose Esther and are to join her sponsor family.
After 11 days in hospital, supported by the Happy House with the provision of milk, nappies, clothes and medication, Esther finally came home, weighing in at 2.3kg.
And, of course, there was a joyful seen when Mama Sue brought her home  to all her eager brothers and sisters who were waiting to greet her. The older ones wanting to hold and cuddle her while the little ones marvelled at her tiny fingers and toes!
Welcome to the family little one, you are safe now - and so loved.



Thursday, 9 February 2012

Knit wits!

A grounding in needlecraft is another life skill, like cookery and gardening,  that will stand our children in good stead in the future.
Who knows we might have Kenya's answer to Stella McCartney or an African Alexander McQueen in our ranks and it is exciting to see what talents we unearth as the children discover a world of opportunity.
A friend and neighbour of Mama and Papa, Mary Jones, has very kindly given the Happy House all kinds of crafty goodies - a sewing machine, cottons, plus a jewellery making kit.
There are also some knitting needles but Mary was sorry she didn't have wool to go with them - but we are sure that there will be someone reading this who will have the odd ball or two they would post to our kids.
Mary has offered to help with craft sessions for kids and to teach them to knit as well. They may never need a woolly jumper in Watamu, but who knows where life will take them.
And knitting is another useful skill, and great for developing fine motor skills, teaching maths and provides lessons in logic and problem solving too.
In fact with a ball of wool and a set of needles a whole new world could unravel ...
*Pictured are, front row: Pendo, Ushindi and Lily, back row, Fatuma and Saumu.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Shoes ... from Facebook Francis

Shoemaker Francis, affectionately known as Facebook Francis to our extended Happy House family, runs a successful little business in Watamu making handmade sandals and leather goods.
He's always been very supportive of Mama Sue's work in his village and now he is extending his range of shoes to include black leather school shoes, again made in his workshop.
He has kindly donated the first three pairs to our kids and shown off here by Francis and Oscar. 
Mama is very impressed with the quality and workmanship and planning to buy from him in the future as we know he will always give excellent service and a good deal.
I have already told Mama that I will send the money for new shoes for my little Pendo when she needs them and I am sure other sponsors would be happy to do the same for their special child. Not only are we helping our children, this way we are also supporting a local business.
If you would like more details email me -

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Ready, steady ... cook!

All set for a bake-off, our kids proudly hold-up a stash of new cookware very kindly sent by Sheila Beelam and her family, who sponsor our elder David - David Karisa.
Sheila's parcel is the first to arrive in response to our blog appeal for bakeware for Mama Sue to use with the children at their weekly Kidz Kookery Club.
As well as silicone bakeware (great because it won't rust in our conditions of extreme heat, salt air and high humidity), Sheila sent bun cases, hundreds and thousands, chocolate chips and jelly diamonds.
What fun the kids are going to have, what sweet treats, too!
Thank you Sheila for all your kindness.

Monday, 6 February 2012

That's our boy!

Sitting pretty, and looking very cute, our David's development is speeding ahead.
In the few months since Mama Sue was told he has Down's Syndrome, David has come on leaps and bounds, thanks to the programme of daily exercises devised for him from information and advice supplied by the Down's Syndrome Association in the UK.
From being like a floppy newborn in October, David is now able to sit up on his own and is making progress all the time.
Mama tells me he is displaying some beautiful teeth. "They're popping through ten to the dozen!" she says.
The exercise programme, which mums' take David through at least twice a day, was put together by Hemadi, a trainee social worker, who was on work experience with us at the time.
We are now looking ahead to the next step for our beautiful little boy to ensure that he reaches his full potential, whatever that may be.
The second picture shows him modelling his smart new surfwear, sent by Lesley Pidcock who is in his sponsor family with her Entry Level Childcare students at Doncaster College.