Thursday, 31 May 2012

The fruits of love

A you know times are tough as we face the ever-increasing bills of raising our very special family of 58.
So it is a great joy and a blessing to know that local people are more than happy to share what little they have with our children.
The Happy House has earned a place in their hearts for the way it is helping the vulnerable children from their communities.
Uncle Billy tells me: "We got a call from a Volunteer Mama at Msabaha where a number of our children have come from saying they had collected mangoes which were ready in a central point for us to collect.
"It was a truly fruitful trip since we received more than 25 kilos of fresh mangoes - this means we will save on the expense of fruit and our children will enjoy the fresh fruit and juice - straight from nature. We have been promised more in a week's time. 
"We experienced a lot of love and support and it was touching when even an old grandma came out with her bucket full of mango fruits as her gift."
Thank you all for your love and support, you have truly made a difference in  your own,  very special,way.
*Auntie Rose and driver Noah are pictured with a grandmum bearing gifts, and Uncle Billy is pictured wit kitchen assistant, Joyce.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

So far from home

It is so, so hard for Mama Sue and Papa Dave to be here in the UK ... thousands of miles apart from the very special family they have created.
But it is a sacrifice that they have had to make. As a charity, these are the toughest times, financially, that we have ever faced and with such a large family depending on us for its every need we have to find new ways of raising money.
Mama and Libby working on ways of bringing in new money, but we are also appealing to you to help, if you can, by holding fundraising events where you can.
Mama is keeping in touch  her team by email, phone and Skype, so all major decisions are being taken by her and once a week, at Kidz Club, she and Papa are talking - and seeing the kids -via Skype.
How exciting it is to see the kids, jumping up and down with excitement, as they see their Mama and Papa on the big TV screen in the family room.
The kids tell them their news (Oscar can now proudly show off his second top front tooth, which has finally appeared months after the first!), Linus gets up as close as he can just to check it his Mama on TV and Pendo pops up to give Auntie Libby a wave!
Mama and Papa smile their way through, but this enforced separation is heartbreaking for them both.
If you can help in anyway (with contacts that we can approach) or by involving your school, colleagues or friends in fundraising, please let us know. 
Whatever you can do is so appreciated. Right now it is money that we need.
You show your love and loyalty for our kids in so many ways and are so generous and we thank you and love you for that. 
If you can help please email: or

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Happy as sandboys

The baby class has its own sandpit at our Little Chicks Nursey School and when it's time to play there the little ones say they're going to beach.
They have few inhibitions as they use their imagination to make up all kinds of sandpie dishes ... and, at times, eating them!
They discover new textures, improve hand-eye coordination and  mix and measure, so this messy play is very much a part of learning too.
As you can see from these pictures of Linus, Brian and Freddie  the children get covered in sand from head to foot but nursery assistant Auntie Lydia has them all cleaned up in no time. 

Monday, 28 May 2012

Swing sisters

Kids really don't need expensive toys.
Take an old tyre strung into a sturdy tree by a piece of rope and you have  a plaything that gives endless hours of enjoyment.
Pendo and her Happy House "sister" Karembo tried every way they could think of to play on one of the old rubber tyres strung up in the trees in our grounds.
They were in the tyre, on top of the tyre, swinging alone or in pairs .. they swapped places, took turns to push, everything naturally and happily with lots of laughter and not a single squabble.
It's hard to imagine the hardship they would have endured and how painful life might have been for these two little girls had they not been brought to the safety and love of our family.
It was a joy to watch them at play, lost as they were in a world of their own, and evidence that you really can't beat the simple things in life!

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Extra hands

Volunteer Jessika Poplawksi, from Blackpool, is now in her third week  as a volunteer with our family and is providing a valuable extra pair of hands wherever needed.
Jess,19, who is studying social work at Uclan, Preston, has been helping to keep the growth records of each child - measuring height and weight (here Peninah is on the scales with Rosie looking on) and she also went with Auntie Rehema to the clinic taking toddler Stevie, who has had a poorly chest, and Amani, who has teething troubles!

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Judith's joy

Judith Carson , who lives in Belfast, is a manager with the health service and is in the sponsor family of our little Freddie who she met for the first time when she was volunteering at the Happy House last year.
Captain of a Girls' Brigade Company they sponsor Freddie's elder sister Mariam and she has been back to see them both and to volunteer again this year.
Here Judith gives a glimpse into why she is planning to be back to help again in 2013.
She has been back to volunteer again this year
"Once you have visited the Happy House the bond is formed and it's difficult not to be affected by the kids.  This is my second time spending a few weeks in the Happy House, working with the children and seeing how their lives have been enriched by the care and love offered by the staff.
I've often been asked what does a volunteer do, and what qualities do you need.  Well, perhaps to answer the "what" - my day usually consisted of helping the teachers in Kindergarten and the Primary classes, colouring in, sharpening pencils, helping with reading and even doing a little bit of teaching!
There is lots to do whether working with the babies, toddlers or the older children.  Clapping games, started by my friend Dawn Heather, had the children lining up shouting "and me, and me aunty", then there was playing on the tyres, football, aerobics and dancing, along with exam preparations.  Thanks to the teachers, my limited French, Maths and Swahili improved! Then there was the trip to the beach, which involved sand pie fights and water games (girls against the boys - girl-power!!)
To answer the "qualities" - basically all you need is a willingness to do whatever is required; go where needed; a love for Kenya and a heart for the children.  As you can see, I totally enjoyed being surrounded by the kids and being part of the Happy House family!
The highlight of this trip was lovely was getting to spend time with all the kids including my sponsored children, and being present at the closing ceremony when they were presented with their certificates.  Only 47 weeks to go until my next trip (and counting!)"

Friday, 25 May 2012

So well resourced

When Mama Sue first started her work in Kenya 12 years ago she was so appalled by the lack of resources her aim was to raise money for teaching aids " just to make a teacher's job possible".
Since then she has helped put more than 700 children in education, and at our own Happy House School has introduced new ways of teaching which Kenyan teachers embrace with enthusiasm as discover how to get the very best out of their pupils.
That our school is so well resourced is thanks to so many of you who send teaching aids and books to use in class. These help to enhance and reinforce everything our children learn.
Thoughtful gifts, like those pictured, matter so much and we are constantly grateful to you.
Headteacher Madam Rose (pictured here with Mariam and Salama) says: "These things are wonderful.
"The project all about water is perfect for what we are doing now - because it is one of our themes for this term.
"In the school I worked in before I came to Happy House I would have to send kids home to their parents to bring money just so they could have manila paper to write on. Here we have so many resources that our children learn very, very fast."

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Karibu Auntie Lynn

There was a very important job in store for Auntie Lynn McCluskey when she arrived back at the Happy House yesterday.
After giving Auntie Lynn, from Blackpool, a rousing welcome at Kidz Club, she was asked to present a gift to this week's birthday boy, John.
Auntie Lynn, who sponsors Musyoka, is always a welcome helper and loved by our family, but this visit she also had to a very special announcement to make.
But, as Uncle Billys says, that's a story for another day!
Karibu, Auntie Lynn, have a wonderful time.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Willows welcome

Thank you so much to all the members of the Willows Ladies Group at St John the Evangelist Church, Kirkham, Lancashire, for making Elizabeth so welcome when she went along tell them about the Happy House last night.
They were so interested and inspired by Sue's extraordinary story which illustrates just what one woman can do when she has vision,determination and complete dedication.
They were touched by the stories of some of our children and delighted to see how their lives are  being transformed by the Happy House magic.
The club made a donation of £30 which the ladies topped up to £144 after holding an impromptu collection.
A huge thank you to them all for being so generous and also for a lovely cup of tea!
*If your club, school or organisation would be interested in hearing  the Happy House story pleased contact  for the next few months Sue is here in the UK  too. She is an excellent speaker so there is a chance to hear her tell her story in her own words,  and she and Elizabeth do a good double act!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Bringing you the blog .. with a helping hand

Bringing you the blog, as I have said before, is my daily dose of Kenyan sunshine.
It cannot always be good news, it is physically and emotionally challenging for Mama Sue and all of us involved in running a charity which is saving children's lives. We tell it as it is.
We do have an uphill struggle on our hands over the next few months in raising in the money we need to give the Happy House family a cushion of cash in the bank to meet those unforeseen expenses, which can crop up at any time, in any family, as and when they occur and also to raise the money we need to finish the building work on the primary school.
The primary school build is on hold, now the roof is completed and it is weatherproof.  We were lucky enough to have been given the money we have spent on it so far as a generous donation given for that specific purpose last year.
But, as we have already explained, costs in Kenya have escalated just as they have elsewhere in the world and the increase in the the cost of materials has forced our decision to stop for the time being. Mama, as you know, is a very astute and prudent businesswoman.
Mama, Papa and I are now back in the UK and will start work in earnest ,this week, on getting a fundraising plan in place.
Please, please let us have your ideas for any fundraisers you would like to help with, any large companies or trusts we could approach for donations or with contacts you may have to help us get the major publicity in national print titles, tv or radio.
We cannot possibly raise the money and awareness we need without the help and love YOU so generously and genuinely give to our family.
Please email me: or Sue on
It is strange, today, to be writing the blog in the silence of my kitchen ... without the distant hum of our children singing or playing.
At the Happy House there's never total silence. Even when the kids are in school, their voices carry on the breeze. 
When I am in the UK, Uncle Billy, Auntie Rose and Auntie Velma send me pictures and snippets of news for the blog so that you know day-to-day what is happening and when.
They are fantastic, understanding as they do why the blog has become so important to so many of our supporters, but I think they may have to watch their backs.  There's a new kid on the block ready to steal their limelight.
Just look at our Harry, two next month, and already getting handy with a keyboard.... a cub reporter, if ever I saw one!

Monday, 21 May 2012

Look out for the logo

The Happy House logo is now proudly sported by Woolston Rovers Under 9s Rugby League team. It's the Cheshire club's way of promoting our charity when they're on the field and an instant talking point.

Kathryn Forshaw explains: "Our club is called Woolston Rovers and we have been around for over 50 years. We are a community based Rugby League club with players from age 5 to age 55. our team is  the Under 9s and most of our players are aged around eight ".
We have 13 players who love spending time together, playing rugby, training and just having fun. They are: Mitchell, Tyler, Max, Kane, Declan, Alfie, Ellis, George, Tom, Connor, Bradley, Dylan and Nathan. Our coaches are Jack, Ryan and Danny.

"We wanted to support the Happy House because Ryan and I got to know Sue and paid a short visit to the school she developed in Watamu some years ago.. We managed to give some support for a few years and attended some of the fundraisers that Sue held in Blackpool and we were full of admiration for the work being done.

 From that we promised ourselves that one day we would do something to help again so when we began to look for sponsors for our kit I decided to give something to have the Happy House logo on the shorts. We wanted to use this as a way to help the boys start to look outside of their own team and learn and support other children in need.

 Every week when they play we can remind them of why they have the logo on their shorts and talk about how we can help.

As a club we have a passionate belief in the benefits of sport for children in building self esteem and learning to work as a team and rugby in particular offers the chance for children of all abilities to still play a role in the team.
 Every child will play and learn irrespective of whether the are an outstanding athete or can hardly catch a ball! We have seen dramatic changes in children when they come to the club and start to play - teachers have commented on the change they have seen at school and parents have seen changes at home.
 This is especially true for children with special needs as the inclusive, team nature of the game allows children to participate where they have not been able to do so before. My son has learning difficulties and has gone from being the awkward child who couldn't catch a ball to being a young coach and referee and I have seen him grow and develop as a result. In a very small way we hope that we too are making a difference to the lives of some children."

Our picture shows some of the young Under 9 players and the design for their shorts with the our logo. Thanks and lots of love to  Kathryn, Ryan and everyone at Woolston Rovers.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Splash happy

It is so, so, hard to leave our Happy House kids.
I am just Auntie Libz to the family and I am feeling so sad, so imagine, if you can, how it must  be today for Mama Sue and Papa Dave as they travel back to the UK with me.
Their kids will miss them every bit as much as they will be missed by their Mama and Papa. But time does fly and with so many things to do and the very pressing need to raise significant funds it will soon pass and Mama, Papa and their kids will be together as a family once more.
Yesterday, for a very special treat, Mama and Papa surprised the kids by bringing them to swim in the pool at their home in Turtle Bay.
Everyone had a ball , splashing and swimming and tucking into the Haribo sweets I'd brought with me.
Even the little ones like Harry, Linus, Brian, Natasha, Peninah, Rose , Freddie, Alex, Sauma, Pendo, Melis and Stevie proved to be right little water babies, happily ducking and diving in the baby pool while the older kids made waves in the big pool.
It was a high note on which to say our goodbyes ... with lots of smiles and lots of love.

Friday, 18 May 2012

High price of love

Here in Kenya, as in the rest of the world, costs are escalating.
Food, cleaning equipment, petrol, mechanical repairs and  general household maintenance, everything we need to keep a family of 58 children well nourished, healthy and happy costs more than it did a year ago.
Our wage bill rose overnight by 12% last year when the Government enforced a wage rise for every Kenyan worker. Something we could not budget for and which was totally beyond our control.
As our children grow up the demands on us change too - transport to football academy and inter-school sports events; new shoes and school uniform seemingly every five minutes, and of course the bigger they grow the hungrier they get.
Education demands too change and evolve. Our school is only in its second year and so it is only now , having allowed for start-up expenses, that we have an accurate picture of what how much it costs run.
The primary school is under construction, thanks to a generous donation, but the escalating costs of materials and labour have forced Mama Sue and her management team to make the painful decision to stop the build.
Since Mama Sue returned from the UK she has been working tirelessly , with her team, to look at the way forward.
Getting the makuti roof  on the school finished, before the rains set in properly, has been the priority and that will be completed this week.
Mama Sue has also made the difficult decision to return to return to the UK on Sunday to work with Libby on a fundraising drive to boost our much depleted bank balance.
It is a tough call for her. Her and Papa Dave’s hearts are here with their family, but they feel that by being in the UK for a time she and Libby will be able to forge ahead to bring in the money and getting the publicity we so desperately need.
Papa needs a cataract operation so it will also be a chance for him to get that done and they also have some personal business to attend to.
The priority, though, is to secure the future of our very special family.
Mama Sue will still be at the helm, making all key decisions and can be in daily contact with her team by Skype, email and telephone. She knows that she is leaving the family in the very secure and trusted hands of administrator Rose, social worker Billy and accountant Isaac.
It is heartbreaking for Mama, Papa , and for all the family, that they have to be separated but for the family it is the best and only decision they could make.
Over the coming weeks and months we hope that you will come forward with YOUR own fundraising ideas and initiatives to help us and we will certainly be telling you about the ideas and  campaigns that we have in mind.
Mama, who says she has the best job in the world, has for two years been “living the dream” here in Kenya where her heart is well and truly rooted.
With your fundraising, your help, your love and support,  we will have her and Papa back here where they belong as soon as we can - with cash in the bank to help us through whatever financial crisis may next occur.

N-ice one Auntie Rose

There's been a very important birthday the Happy House this week.
And we couldn't let Auntie Rose's big day go past without a surprise.
So Mama arranged for a very special treat for everyone - ice cream!
Yesyerday's celebration was planned in secret so you can imagine Auntie Rose's reaction when all the kids  assembled in the banda after school and started singing the birthday song just for her.
Then everyone tucked in.
Happy birthday, Auntie Rose, with lots of love from Mama, Papa and all the family.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Grandpa drops in

There's almost a century separating these two Happy House kids!
Grandpa Yaa maybe 94 but he still likes to get down on to the floor to play with the youngest members of our family.
Grandpa, who braved torrential rain, to come to see us before starting a journey to visit relatives in the area of birth, where they are now suffering from floods,  went on his way proudly wearing a Sampdoria cap and backpack given to him by Mama Sue.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Will turns miles to smiles

A thousand thanks to Will Gordon for his tremendous effort in completing the Jane Tomlinson Leeds Half-Marathon on Sunday in 1:58:20.
And here he is, wearing his Happy House t-shirt and half-marathon medal at the finishing line, when he downed a well-earned beer and also with Leeds iconic owl appearing to be perched on his head!
Will, who sponors of Musyoka, really went the extra mile (all 13 of them) to raise £1,285 for our Happy House family.
Mama Sue, Papa Dave and the kids were all thrilled to hear how you had got on Musyoka is now using you, Will, as his role model in races against his mates.
Every penny raised will be put to very good use.
Thank you again Will, and thank you to everyone who has supported him.

Happy House kids join the Sampdoria Blucerchiata

An exciting consignment of football kit has arrived  at the Happy House from one of Italy's most famous clubs ... Sampdoria.
And now our kids will now proudly sport the famous hoops when they step out for football training and matches, thanks to Sampdoria Club Bogliasco Blucerchiata and UC Sampdoria.
Having a team strip to wear matters so much to the kids social worker Uncle Billy explains: "It is very, very encouraging for our children as now they have it to wear for  the matches and training which they so look forward to. Having  team jerseys, strip and bags is a big "promotion" for them and will really boost their morale and give them even more reason to play well on the pitch. They love football.
"But at Malindi Academy where our children receive free training, football is about much more than a game. The management wants to promote discipline, education and talent- values we share at the Happy House. Before they even klick a ball children are told that they are expected to excel in school, be discip;ined and responsible so that they will grow into valuable citizens.
"It is about preparing them for their lives in the future.
"At the academy there are excellent life examples for our own children. There is one young player who is now playing in international matches for Kenya Under 19s. He was just a poor boy, unloved, brought from the streets. The academy brings young people from the streets to keep them away from drugs and encourage the importantance of education. If they do not attend school, do not behave, they are excluded for six months. They have to prove that they have mended their ways before they can return.
"Our children are learning so much there and now they have kit to wear they will be so proud. We have talked all about Sampdoria and told them all that we know but it will be so good to have more information directly from the club and pictures that the children will treasure.
"The club and its players will be their inspiration. Maybe one day we will have a Happy House kid playing for Sampdoria.
That is now our goal!"
 Mama Sue says: "We are so so grateful to Sampdoria for all the wonderful things they have sent for our children.  They were so eager to model their new strip for our pictures.Linus, who is two, stripped down to his underpants and was in a shirt in the blink of an eye so now the kids have made him their mascot!
"Each of our young soccer players now  have their own strip safely in their lockers. We know they will wear it with great pride and will make Sampdoria proud too!
"We hope this is the start of a really great partnership between the Happy House and Sampdoria.
"Huge thanks to Sampdoria Club Bogliasco Blucerchiata, to UC Sampdoria and also to Sampdoria Supporters and Friends of Genova.
"And, of course, to our very good friend Marco Narizzano for introducing the Happy House to them and for heading up this initiative."
Happy House kids now appear on the Sampdoria website and Sampdoria tv:!/