Friday, 30 November 2012

A romantic proposal

Love was in the air when Gary Burns surprised his girlfriend, Rachael Clamp by getting down on bended knee  to propose in front of all our Happy House family.

 A delighted Rachael was thrilled as he placed a sparkling solitaire diamond on her finger while all our kids clapped and cheered.

Our family, in on the secret, had created the perfect platform for a romantic proposal as our kids did their own wedding march to a traditional Swahili song, showering Rachael and Gary with flower petals gathered from the garden.
With Gary’s proud  parents, Terry and Wendy Burns, and Rachael’s mum, Karen Clamp, and partner Steve Durkin, looking on the couple sealed the deal with a kiss.
Rachael, taken completely by surprise, loved the decorations of palm and flowers created in heart shapes by our gardening staff, and cut the cake made by our cook Uncle Josphat.

Rachael fell in love with our Happy House family when she came to the opening in 2010 and at the time Mama Sue jokingly told Gary it was time he proposed.  So their return visit provided the perfect opportunity and setting.

We wish Gary and Rachael, from Burnley, every happiness in their future together and we know for certain, they will never forget this special day or very special place.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

With love from Lancashire

Terry and son Gary 

 Every desk and every chair in our school was once used by pupils in Lancashire schools.
When schools have been refurbished in the county furniture, which once would have gone to landfill, is given new life by Burnley-based charity Furniture for Education Worldwide.
Terry Burns, who founded the charity, his wife Wendy, son Gary, am FEW trustee,   and Gary’s girlfriend Rachael Clamp, have flown out to visit the Happy House.
They were here for the opening in March 2010, when the first FEW container-load had provided much of the furniture in use around our home. And what a difference they are seeing.
With them are Rachael’s mum, Karen, and her partner, Steve Durkin, a Burnley businessman.
So when guests who have done so much for use come to visit we like to give them a real Happy House welcome by putting on a show. FEW trustees also sent a donationt to buy everyone ice cream and sodas.
For Terry, political officer for Unite the Union NW, is thrilled to be able to see just how every item his charity has given is being put to good purpose - one of the reasons they choose to support us time and time again.
The most recent shipment also contained  computers, now up and running in our computer room, filing cabinets given by Senitor and mattresses from Silent Night. Plus other items surplus to requirements from  schools, offices and local businesses.
Natasha and Peninah
Kids judge adult dancing
For Terry, whose charity has sent shipments to other areas of the impoverished world, the link with the Happy House is the strongest because they can see where it is going and exactly how well it is looked after and being used.
Ice cream for Rose
To greet our special guests our children repeated two of the performances they had presented at the Closing day and Graduation, to the delight of everyone. Followed by a dance competition - which is always the kids’ first choice for entertainment.
Looking around one of our fully furnished new primary classes Terry said: ‘’And to think all this was once in Lancashire schools and would have just gone into landfill. We waste so much, this should be a wake-up call.
‘’The Happy House has come on such a long way since we were here What Sue is doing here is incredible. She is an inspiration.’’
Mama Sue said: ‘’We are thrilled Terry  and his family have come back to see us. He and his trustees are so supportive of us and we know how much it means to him to be able to see every stick of furniture they have sent us being put to use by our family and making a difference to children's lives..’’

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Mama's a material girl!

Mama chooses material
Everyone in our family takes a pride in their appearance and all our staff come to work in clean, neatly pressed uniforms.
They are allocated two sets each.
After more than two years of being washed and worn, every day, uniforms are looking very tired and faded. The sun soon drains the colour out of the fabric and the salt water it  is washed in doesn't help either. 
Mama has decided that new uniforms are now a priority and went to the hardware and haberdashery shop to get new material.
Nothing is simple in Africa. When she spotted a fabric she liked it would take a phone call to the wholesaler, and a detailed description of the colour and pattern etc to discover whether or not he could supply enough. A barcode would have been so much easier.
Headteacher Rose with Sifa
After about four attempts, four different patterns, the deal was sealed and a colourful material picked for the house staff while teachers have a very smart black and white.
Sifa busy at work in his workshop
Uniforms give such a professional look, but also make it easy to identify who works where in our ever growing family home and school.
Sifa, who makes our uniforms, has now been in to measure everyone and to cut the cloth and is now working on sewing up the finished articles.
 It’s a big job, but he has been working as our tailor, making all our  uniforms for staff and kids, for more than a year and is both skilled and reliable, so we know they are in safe hands. And the work we have given him has enabled him to set up his own workshop.
The uniforms are another expense, but everything wears out so quickly here we  have no option  but to find the money.
Pier pressure
It's well over a year since Marc and Thalia Venturi  brought out baseball caps donated by Brighton Pier for our kids and as you can see from these pictures of Mwende they are very popular with the kids.

It's an other illustration of how what is given to our charity goes exactly where it is intended and get used time and time again.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Barcoding and booking in

Cathy and Oscar
Barcoding and scanning  the 7,300 books we have in our Happy House library is now underway thanks to Micro Librarian Systems.
The Stockport-based company, which has adopted us as its charity, gave us a Junior electronic management system which will enable us to track reading trends and progress across our school as well as ensuring that we know exactly who has borrowed which book, dvd , game or musical instrument and when..
It’s a huge asset to our librarian Cathy who also helps in school.  Once she got the system installed on her computer she started work on getting our stock on to the system.
Cathy is delighted to have the Junior Librarian which, she says, puts our library way ahead of any other library in the district and a takes the Happy House a step nearer to having a first class library.
There are many more books still to unpack  that Mama, Papa and Auntie Libby brought out with them  and we hope that in time we will get many more.
More books given by you
Encouraging reading is a top priority, because as Mama Sue has always said  ‘’If a child can read, a child can learn.’’
Our children are becoming real little bookworms and enjoy talking about the books they have read at Kidz Club.
We are so grateful to Andy O’Brien,  managing director at MLS and his company, for their generosity and to all those of you who have sent books from our wish list for the children for Christmas.
As we have said before a bookplate with their name on it will be put in each child’s book so that it is owned by them, but once they have read and enjoyed it we will ask them to add it to our library so that it can be kept safe and shared with their brothers and sisters.
This will ensure that every book is looked after and read by as many children as possible

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Bigger Bus Appeal .. driving ahead in 2013

Christmas cards and stamps are so costly, do you really need to send so many?
Move over please....
Maybe instead of sending out loads and loads of cards you could cut back on a few and tell your friends you are making a donation, instead, to help get our Happy House family on the road ... together.
Today we are launching our Happy House Bigger Bus Appeal - in the hope that in 2013 we will be able to raise enough money to buy a 34 seater bus, a vehicle big enough to take all our growing family out in one go!
We do have a mini-bus, secondhand when it was so kindly donated to us, but now our family has outgrown it.
It is fine for trips involving just a few children, but in most cases we are transporting more children, plus adult helpers, than there are seats.
The kind of bus we would like
And that's a safety issue, so we must have a vehicle in which we can safely transport a large number of children.
Trips to the dentist, hospital etc are frequent and involve a 25-mile journey each way!
Even buying school shoes is an epic trip, again 25 miles to the shoe shop, when you have 59 kids in the family. Taking children in relays takes a great deal of time out of a day, involves more staff, and is very costly, financially, in fuel and in wear and tear on the vehicle.
A larger bus is needed to enable children from outlying areas to access our school, which is now almost complete thanks to your past help and support.
We are a family, and like to travel as a family, so for family outings a bigger bus would ensure that everyone can take part.
Our older Happy House children are getting more involved in activities beyone the Happy House. They get free soccer training at Malindi Academy which is 25 miles away, they love it and we have some very good young footballers, but getting them there poses a problem.
Open wide .. all 59 of you!
Our Happy House school pupils take part in inter-school events, sporting and academic, and that can involve transporting a large number of kids a long very long way.
Football training in Malindi
We were so proud this summer when nursery school pupils won the district final of a spoken verse competition. They beat schools locally in the zone and area heats to reach the district final, which a journey of many miles.
Our fundraising target is £30,000, but we know that it is, over 2013, a possibility. There are some people who like to have a project to fundraise for, so maybe this could be it?
Our appeal has been kickstarted by Marc and Thalia Venturi who have donated the £855 they made at their recent charity night in Brighton towards a new bus, Thank you Marc and Thalia and to all those who supported your event in any way.
We are a small charity doing a very big job so it is unlikely that there will ever be a time when we will have enough money for all we need. Like Oliver we will always be asking for more!
But we know that with every day we are making new friends. People, like you, who share our belief that every child has a right to grow up safe, happy, well and loved. That every child, regardless of their beginnings, deserves a chance in life.
We thank you for caring, for taking our family into your hearts, and for your continued generosity.
To donate to our Happy House Bigger Bus Appeal please click here: and please share this link with your friends and your family.
Thank you.

Young bloggers take over

We have three Happy House bloggers today. Shakila, Rukia and Margaret.
Shakila and Rukia have chosen to write about meeting Mama and Papa in Mombasa while Margaret, MC of the welcome home party, is telling us more about that. Wjile in the UK, Mama has been talking to the kids on Skype and told them they could have a welcoming party if they organised it themselves. They did!
 The pictures were taken by Mercy.
Shakila writes:On Saturday we went to Mombasa and we were waiting 
for you  and when we saw Mama Sue, Papa Dave and Auntie Libby  we were so happy and we were singing  for you.
And Mama Sue said we are going to cafĂ© and we went to have  some drinks and it was nice , we love it. 
Rukia and  Shakila
At the morning we were ready to go to Mombasa.
And every body was ready too
And the bus  was so big and  we like it.                               
Thank you Aunt Libby for letting me `to write a blog.
Rukia tells us:   I  hope you  are  fine and  me too. 
You  have  came back  to  Happy  House  Mama  Sue  and  Papa  
Dave and Auntie Libby.  And  we  went  Mombasa  we  saw  a  big  place  and  before we went  there  we went  to  airport  when we saw Mama , Papa and Auntie we was  very happy.’’

Now it is Margaret’s turn to write about the party:  Mama Sue  said that as Happy House big girls and boys, so we can plan for a party and organize it. 
So at that moment everybody stood and we started cheering (hooray, hooray) After we finished cheering we were told that the party is ours not for them. So we had to organize a party. 
And the Kids Council helped us. So we had to start with the MC, then the activities
Margaret and Janet
and their leaders. The MC was Margaret and the leaders were ( Janet, Mercy, Evans, Mr Athman, Musyoka and Shakila)  and the activities are games, eating competition, aerobics, staff aerobics, dancing competition, party girls and music chair. We did the party on and all the staffs came and they really enjoyed it.
Everybody was telling me that “this is the best party in the Happy House!”
And I was glad to hear that.  That was the end of our party!.
Best wishes Margaret the Happy House family xxxxxxx
Jeduda reads her own blog

*Our children know and understand just how the daily blog tells our friends around the world what is happening at the Happy House and every Monday they look back on the previous week with Uncle Billy there to explain anything they may not understand or to answer any questions they have. It is also rewarding for our young guest bloggers to be able to see their work up on screen. Well done kids, you are getting to be very good writers and we look forward to seeing what you have to report in future..

Saturday, 24 November 2012

School ends with a sparkle

School closing day was a cavalcade of colour and creativity as our children showed off their considerable talents.
Every child from pre-schoolers to primary had a part to play and played it perfectly in more than two hours of verse, music, drama and dance.
The show, organised by our teachers helped by volunteers, was stunning from the the traditional Christmas nativity, through to a wonderfully imaginative  celebration of cultures represented at our school from the many African tribes to those with roots in other continents including the Italy, the USA, France and the UK.
Brilliant costumes, made cheaply  from sourced local material , and  from items  kindly donated to by so many of you from the UK and elsewhere, added to the effect.
Happy House scouts gave a formal start with a a display of marching before raising the Kenyan flag as everyone stood for the national anthem.

The opening act was presented by our playgroup and baby classes  performing Ten Little Indians  and Butterfly, Flutterby. From there it was on to our older children with so many varied acts mostly in English but also in  French and Swahili.

Everyone in the audience was delighted with the performances, some joining in with the dancing when a child, dressed costumes representing a different tribe or country, took to the floor
. It was Uncle Billy who sparked the audience participation when he joined in with  a  Kikuyu dance.

Chief guest was the local education officer who congratulated the school on its high academic standards, making it one of the best schools in his jurisdiction, and on its administration. He remarked on the way it forges ahead progressively but also acknowledges and appreciates the many tribes, nationalities and cultures 

Sifa and Papa
Director and Mama, Mama Sue, spoke about her belief in education, providing the best and making  the Happy House school a centre of educational excellence . She explained how we are a charity, not a business, and that every shilling given, every item donated goes exactly where it is intended …to supporting our children.
Mama also presented certificates to children who had performed well in the recent exams.
Well done to everyone who helped make this such a special day for everyone and many, many  thanks to our teachers and  the shining stars of the day ... our kids!

Friday, 23 November 2012

Little Chicks graduate

How proud we were yesterday when five of our children graduated from our Little Chicks Nursery School.
John, Fatuma, Lily, Francis and Oscar will be moving up from Kg3 in to primary Class 1 when the new term starts in January.
It’s a big event in a child’s life and graduation ceremonies are part of the academic process in Kenya.
Our Happy House five, plus day pupil classmates, looked so smart in their black and red caps and gowns.
Graduation took place as part of the closing day celebrations when every child had a part to play in the entertainment for assembled guests , including some very important people with the education officer as the chief guest.
There was just such a busy programme and so much to talk about that we will leave that for another blog and concentrate, today, on our graduates.
They sat so patiently through the speeches waiting for their moment to shine. And shine they did as each stepped forward to receive their graduation certificate from our Happy House director who is just “Mama’’ to them!
As they were bursting with pride so was their Mama, delighted to see her Little Chicks ready to fly up to bigger things.
It is thanks to her foresight and vision that they have a home and education and it is wonderful to see how much value they place upon it.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Clinic call

Rose and Jedida woke up feeling very under the weather and it was clear  a trip to see the doctor at  the local clinic was necessary
Jeddy’s temperature was soaring by the time we got there and Rose, too, was also listless and down in the dumps.
The doctor gave them a good checkover, they had pin-prick tests for malaria and then we waited, very patiently, for the results.
Both girls tested negative and were given some medicine to help bring down their temperatures and make them feel better.
Two minutes after arriving home, they were both fast asleep and will, hopefully, be a as right as rain for school closing day today.
                                                                                 Happy to see you
Susan and Adriana  meet our kids
Visitors are always welcome at the Happy House and Auntie Libby has been acting tour guide this week.
Our latest callers were Adriana Prieto and Susan James.
They are volunteers working at other homes in Watamu and they wanted to see for themselves what our Happy house was like.
Adriana , an international relations graduate from Mexico City, and Susan, a retired probation offer from Bakersfield, California, were so impressed and amazed by the high standards of both childcare and education. They were also delighted to meet Mama Sue,  who has created this centre of excellence.
They could see how we are raising the bar in everything we do, and giving children the very best childhood and equipping with the education and aspiration to go on to achieve as adults,
Susan hopes to come back next year to volunteer with us and is also planning to join our family as a child sponsor.
Today they will be joining us for the morning for school closing day celebrations and graduation day.
They will be very welcome as will al those others who are joining us  for this important occasion and our new primary school open day.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Congratulations and celebrations

Our kids put on the party to end all parties for their Mama and Papa yesterday.
From the choosing director of ceremonies to DJ,  organising entertainment and competitions the kids had planned and rehearsed it all.
They put up the decorations, helped in the kitchen and got both the house and themselves all dressed up so they could give their Mama, Papa and Auntie Libby the biggest welcome home.
And as it is also coming up to the first anniversary of Auntie Rose’s wedding to Uncle Fred, and Auntie Libby’s birthday there were surprises in store for them all.
The party opened with prayers, led by our chair of Kidz Council, Evens, who then handed over the director of Ceremonies, Margaret. First up in the competitions was an eating contest for the playgroup kids who wet head to head to see who could eat their biscuit the fastest. With Linus the outright favourite, it was a shock to everyone when dark horse Brian won the race.

Our little girls, dressed in fairy costumes, came on next with ring-a-ring-a-roses, followed by aerobics by the kids, who put on a brilliantly choreographed display,  followed by enthusiastic staff who whilst very good couldn’t quite match the kids!

A wedding procession - with Hassan and Rose as bride and groom - honoured Auntie Rose and Uncle Fred’s anniversary. A lovely surprise for both of them.
The dancing competition between staff and kids was so much fun, but not easy for the judges.
In the final showcase the three winners were Samson, Rose and Auntie Freda.
Musical chairs, croquet and other competitions, plus hotdogs, cake and pop completed a day family fun.

For Mama, Papa and Auntie Libby who received lovely gifts from the children, who had been shopping in the village to buy them, it was the most perfect homecoming.
What wonderful children we have and how talented they are.  They had worked so hard to make this so , so special for everyone.
Thank you to all of them for just the best day ever!