Sunday, 31 March 2013

A budding talent

Today is the first day of English summertime and just the perfect time for Mariam to tell you about her favaourite pastime.
I hope you are fine, and me I am fine. This is Mariam. I am writing a blog about the garden. 
In holiday when were at home from school we help the aunties and uncles
. I like helping in the garden.
I help in planting, watering and removing weeds.
 Like now I planted tomatoes with the gardeners and they are growing well, we are near to harvest them. 
You know that when you eat vegetables you become strong.
I am helping so the Happy House can be strong. I love helping at the garden.
Happy Easter from all the Happy House family.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

A new baby and siblings bring us to 72!

A tiny baby, weak and fragile as a newly-hatched bird, is now the youngest member of our family.
Three week old Athmani, weighing just 1.5kg, came to us, with his older sister Sudi and brother, Abu, because their grandmother, a refugee from violent clashes in the Tana Delta, was unable to provide for them.
To go on a rescue with Uncle Billy and Auntie Rose and to see, first hand,  how Mama Sue's Happy House offers a safety net to children in need was both emotional and enlightening, writes Elizabeth Gomm.
Uncle Billy had received a call from Naomi, a district nurse working in a clinic in Marakbuni, an area close to the Sabaki river, about 36 kilometres from Watamu.
She had told him of baby Athmani, one of twins, born prematurely three weeks earlier.
Athmani was delivered safely, but then his mother became gravely sick trying to give birth to the second twin, who was breach.
By the time she was taken to surgery it was too late for both her and her child and they died together.
with Naomi and Uncle Billy
Their grieving grandmother had for three weeks been trying to raise the baby, feeding him cow’s milk diluted with water.  He was unable to digest the milk  and he had dropped from 1.8kg to 1.5kg..
The children's father was present while we spoke. Because no dowry was paid to him by his wife's family on their  marriage, there was, in their culture, no obligation on him to provide for his children.
The fisherman had deferred all care  for the newborn and his older kids to the grandmum.
Clutching  the baby to her,  the woman tugged at my arm pulling me towards a clearing where , tears streaming down her face, she pointed to  the mound of earth  where her daughter and Athman’s twin are buried.
All I could do, which seemed so inadequate, was to put my arms around her, tears welling in my eyes. We had no common language, but I hope that I was able to give her just a little of the comfort she deserved.
Rose and I meet baby and grandmum
Abu, a little boy of about three, and Sudi, around four, were curious as Auntie Rose and I tried to make friends.  They looked fed, but were pitifully dressed in rags and both were infested with ringworm.
 An older sister, 13, who we learnt was in school looked better cared for and two other children were also being cared for and educated elsewhere.
Uncle Billy ,Naomi, and Paul, a local man who is pharmacist at the clinic, talked with the grandmum, explaining to her about the Happy House and what it is like and how we could help her grandchildren.  As she listened you could see some of the stress , that makes women like her old before their time, ease slightly.
A final resting place
All she wanted was the best for the little ones. She explained how she had come back to her father’s homestead when she was forced to flee the tribal violence in the Tana Delta and her own husband had deserted her.
Humble home
She had nothing, other than the meagre roof over her head.
Every now and again she would look towards me, at first with apprehension but then, after some time, with a smile.  She had realised that she was with people she could trust and to whom she could entrust her grandchildren’s care.
One of the local women changed Athmani  into the clothes we had taken, whilst Rose and
  I changed Sudi and Abu.

Ready for their new home
Abu smiled with delight when I pulled out a red t-shirt, with cartoon tractor on the front, for him to wear.
The papers signed, the grandmum unable to write making her mark with an inked thumbprint, we made our way back to the matatu to start our journey home to the Happy House. 
 As we walked the grandmum  repeatedly threw her arms around me and stroked my hair.  “She is so happy,” Naomi explained “she says she is going to write to you in Giriama!”
As we drove off they waved and smiled and promised, as soon as they have enough money, to visit the children at the Happy House.
Abu and Sud
Rose held Athmani and I sat in the back with Naomi, Sudi and Abu.
 After a drink of water and biscuits, Abu, fell asleep on my lap . Sudi, uncomplaining, looked out of the window.
“They are so good,” I said to Naomi “yet they must be wondering who we are and what is happening to them.”
“What is happening,” she said “is life”.
And in Kenya, where there are so many living in poverty,  this is true.
Acceptance is the hard reality of life.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Twins leave our care

Twins Deborah and Florence are no longer in our care having returned to their mother.
She is a single mother of eight children, and once relieved of caring for the twins, her youngest, was able to return to work selling bananas.
When she came to take back her girls she told our social worker Uncle Billy that an Italian family she knows have offered to take on all her financial responsibilities to enable her to be a full time mother to all her children and to be reunited with the twins.
As Deborah and Florence had not yet been committed to our care through the courts, we had no choice but to hand them over.
 Uncle Billy would have been happier to have kept them here for a while so that we could see that the arrangement between the mother and her benefactors was working out.  But his hands were tied.
The Happy House family is here and should anything go wrong, Deborah and Florence, who were thriving in our care, will always find a home with us.
We hope that will not be necessary and that all goes well for all the children, but we are here,with our loving safety net, should they need it.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

A badge of office

Empowering children and raising their aspirations is what Mama Sue has instilled as the Happy House way.
So motivating children to learn, achieve and to want to take on responsibility plays an important part in every day life in school and at home.
When Mama Sue told Auntie Libby she would like badges for children on the school council, Auntie Libby offered to buy them, understanding just how much they would mean to those who wear them during their terms of office  and also how it would encourage others to want to be prefects etc..
Yesterday at assembly the badges were handed out to the head girl, Janet, head boy, day boy Nigel, and to each of the prefects.
They went back to class wearing them with pride.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Italian connection

Our Italian connection gets ever stronger and we have a growing number of supporters and child sponsors there.
Among them is Piera Lauria, her partner Oscar and their son Mattia, six.  It is two years since they last visited the Happy House and so it was with great pleasure that we welcomed them back.
They brought with them so many wonderful items donated by their friends in Italy --- three  cases, packed to the brim, with clothes, toys, toiletries, pencils, pens etc.
Piera also brought with her the money raised from a very successful lunch she organised at Caffe Teatro, Milan, two weeks ago.She and Oscar were delighted to see how much the Happy House has developed and to see how our children have grown and Mattia soon made friends with our kids.
Oscar also played a spot of football with some of our little ones who were queuing up to kick the ball while Piera chatted to some of the others who were fascinated by her pretty bracelets.
Piera has so many ideas of ways in which she can gather more support from people in Italy and is to help translate a page for the website. She has already edited our video A Very Special Job to give it a faithful translation in Italian which we will add to the website in the next few weeks.
Her great disappointment was that Mama and Papa were not here but she is hoping that they might be able to visit Milan shortly to meet our friends there.
Thank you Piera, Oscar and Mattia, we are so grateful for all that you do and for caring so much for our family, we look forward to seeing you back at the Happy House later this week.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Books bonus

Happy, healthy and bright … our kids are eager to soak up every bit of knowledge .
And books are so important in helping them to develop their literacy skills and their general knowledge.
We now have almost 8,000 books in our library and Cathy, our librarian, was delighted when more, all donated by friends in the UK, arrived with Elizabeth and Brenda.
She is now busy barcoding and cataloguing them using the Junior Librarian systems so kindly donated to us by specialist-company MLS of Stockport.
The system is a great boon to Cathy who can see at a glance exactly who has borrowed what and can also follow each individual child’s reading pattern.
Classes are held in the library every afternoon to improve reading and understanding and also to teach children how to use reference books, dictionaries etc.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Armfuls of love

Auntie Libby
  There was a lovely welcome awaiting Elizabeth, Auntie Libby to the family, when she arrived at the Happy house on Saturday.
Brenda and Red
With her were old friends Brenda and Red Groves who sponsor Charity and who do so much to help our children.
The children were thrilled to see them all, but the utter excitement that bubbles up when their Mama and Papa come home wasn't there.
 They are disappointed that Mama and Papa couldn't come this time, but understand, and are reserving the jubilation, quite rightly, for the two most important figures in their lives.
Libby, Brenda and Red had a lovely lunch with the children and spent time catching up with their news and seeing how much they have all grown.
For Libby, too, it is sad to be coming back without her dear friends Mama and Papa, but there is work to be done and she is looking forward to a busy time working alongside Rose, Isaac and Billy.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Fine in our family

 Ndoro, Erastus, John and Fatuma.
Today, Janet takes over the blog:
How are you ?
I hope you are fine and me too and I am  working hard at school.
This is Janet writing to you about the new kids.
The new kids are fine and enjoying being at the Happy House. We welcomed them happily and we are happy to receive them.
We are taking care of them because they are also part of our family.
In the picture are Ndoro, Erastus, John and Fatuma.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Smiles all the way

It was smiles all the way from children from the tiny Hindlip First School, near Worcester, when they stepped out on a sponsored walk to raise money for our Happy House.
It was healthy living week at the school so the children wanted to do a sponsored walk in the fresh air as part of the programme.
The school, which held a sponsored walk for us last year, takes a great interest in our family and regularly check the blog.
There are only 98 children in the school but they managed to raise a magnificent  £521.50!
Thank you so much to all the children, staff and helpers who made this such a success. 

Friday, 22 March 2013

Mama on the mend, and for the love of Levian

So many people have been phoning and emailing to ask  after Mama Sue who was so unwell she was unable to attend the charity night last Saturday.
It's been a really tough week, what we thought was a bug turned out to be a massive infection, the result of an insect bite whilst last in Kenya which she thought had cleared up after a course of antibiotics, but which flared up again and totally floored her, and she was unable to move her right hip.
Mama was admitted to hospital on Sunday morning for intravenous antibiotics. She is now on the road to recovery, responding to treatment and will, hopefully, be out at the start of next week.
Sadly this means that she and Papa won't be flying back home today to see the family today as planned. This is so hard for them both as home with their kids is truly where their heart lies. They love their children so much and are very much loved in return
Thank you to everyone who has been in touch. Mama and Papa send you her love.

For the love of Levian ...

An Italian company which sells fitness is also selling the Happy House to its 40,000 members.
GetFit, which has 12 clubs in Milan, plus one in nearby Gallarate and another in Switzerland, is one of the subscription points for entrants of this Sunday's Stramilano,  an annual run over a choice of three distances, which attracts more than 50,000 competitors from five continents.
Her husband, Livio Leardi, is CEO and owner and GetFit, and he and his wife Susanna are hoping to sign up 2,000 runners for the event and a Euro from each one will be donated to our family.
They have gained guardianship of Levian, a little boy, with a tragic background, who they found in care of another Kenyan children's home and who they have been helping for three and a half years.

And for most of that time Susanna has wanted Levian to be in the custody of the Happy House.
Once they became guardians they asked Mama if he could move to Happy House with their full financial supportm giving Susanna and Livio every confidence that he is being well cared for in a family atmosphere and is receiving the best education,. when they are back in Italy. He has settled down well and is much happier than he was in the previous home.
Susanna says: "I visited Happy House and I fell in love with Sue and her all big family. But The other main reason is Levian, my African baby.
I visited Happy house because of an English couple. They suggested to me that I go there.
I was looking for a good school for my baby.
I met Levian in an orphanage three and half years ago, he is now four.
Since I met Sue I fought with all my strength to move him to Happy House....and finally after three years I succeeded!
My husband and I  have signed the "guardianship" in the court of Malindi and we have became Levian's  guardian and he now is a student and a special guest of  Happy House."
Susanna is nw keen to help promote and help the Happy House in any way she can, and is raising awareness and money via GetFit and Stramilano
Stramilano, the most famous city race in Italy, which has had a place in the hearts of the Milanese for 42 years.  It is open to everyone, of all ages and abilities, to run at their own pace.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Fandabidozi family!

Fandabidozi ... that's the superlative one little girl at a Fleetwood school used to describe our  Happy House family.
After watching our new video The Happy House Haywards and hearing all about our children from Elizabeth Gomm and and Rotarian Sandra Foulkes (whose family sponsors twins Pendo and Saumu), the pupils at Larkholme Primary School are all fired up to raise enough money from their Africa Day next week to sponsor one of our children.
The Africa Day is the idea of the school's Rotakids - the junior wing of Rotary partnered by Fleetwood Rotary Club.
The children were enthralled by what they saw on the video and could see just how the Happy House is bringing real joy into the lives of children who have had a sad start in life.
When Elizabeth asked them if they would like to help Mama Sue to make a difference, there was unanimous and very noisy YES!
Thank you Larkholme we look forward to getting to know you better.
In the news
Thank you to The Gazette, Blackpool, for using this story about our Happy House school:

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

A bumper delivery

It was all hands on deck when old  friends of the Happy House from Austria came to call.
The very kind group of friends always make a point of calling in to say hello when they are in Kenya and always bring with them a big donation of food and household items and the children were eager to help unload their vehicle and carry everything into the house.
They were shown round so they could see how very much things have changed and come on since their last visit and, as always, were impressed with what Mama and her charity has achieved.
Thank you gentlemen for caring and for all all the goods you brought with you, you are so kind.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

The Happy House Haywards

The inspiring story of our Happy House Haywards - the first generation of a brand new Kenyan family - is told in our new video.
It was shown for the first time at our charity night on Friday and now we would like to share it with a much wider audience.
Please share the link with your friends, relatives, colleagues and with anyone you can think of. 
We always need new friends and the need to generate more funds us crucial to take us forward.
Please watch it now:
For those who would like to make an online donation to our work please follow this link:
*The video was kindly produced by Sheila Davies from pictures taken by Adriana Prieto, Elizabeth Gomm, Steve Cushing and Sheila Davies. Additional commentary is by Steve Cushing.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Happy House party time

What a wonderful night!
Papa and Terry Burns
Our Happy House  Charity Night and Third Birthday party on Saturday was fantastic evening of family fun and celebration.
It was just so disappointing that Mama Sue, who inspires us all, was poorly and unable to be there.

New sponsors 
She had been so looking forward to it and was so upset, as were those of you who had come so far and were looking forward to seeing her.
But  everyone rallied round and pulled out all the stops to give her and her Happy House family an £8,525 tonic!
That's the total raised, including a promised matched donation of £3,000 from Santander.

Our lovely Papa Dave came along a spent a few hours trying to get round to say hello to everyone and UK voluntary coordinator and trustee Elizabeth Gomm, who works so closely with Sue played understudy to tell everyone just how successful the fundraising mission that has brought Mama and Papa to the UK for a prolonged stint has been.

Discoman Adam and Elizabeth

But the family has grown, we now have 71 children dependent on us, and our children are growing. These bring new demands and make the need for more fundraising and more sponsors ever more pressing.
In that time Sue and Elizabeth have been actively seeking new funding and sponsors and succeeded in finishing the primary school. They have done much to consolidate the financial foundation of the Happy House.

Bobbie, Andrea and Lesley
Elizabeth also announced the next project which will take the Happy House forward in the future .
It is for independent living accommodation as children must, by law, leave the Happy House care at 18.
But some may not be ready to be fully independent, and will need  and home and support whilst they finish schooling, establish themselves in the workplace , or a home to come back to in vacations for those who go on to college or university.
Barry Hay and Paul Foulkes
The Happy House is the children's family, Sue and Dave are their Mama and Papa, and if a child at 18 is not ready to move out, no family, no parent, wants to cast them adrift. 
Nor will we.
Raising the money will be a tough call, but Sue and Elizabeth are on the case and know, with your love and they'll do it.
And to emphasize,what a real family Mama and Papa have created at the Happy House there was the first showing of a new video, The Happy House Haywards, produced by Sheila Davies. It shows the real difference being made to so many young lives and is both inspiring and emotionally stirring. 

A night of fundraising always has a serious side, but it's also about having fun. 
Everyone joined in, there were a few games, a tasty buffet and some dancing. 

Gordon Oates, Alan and Barbara Hebden
Thank you all the lovely people who came along a huge success ...  additional thanks to  Missa Miles entertaining with her fabulous voice, to Adam Discoman for being just the best dj,  Wendy Hay for balloons, Andrea Manders for organising the bottlebola, Louise Webster Gaines and her husband Gary for organising the raffle, Lynn Baya Thoya for Lynn's Lucky Loot and  just doing anything needed, Terry Burns for Terry's Teddies, Scott Webster and Red Groves for Putt a £,  Sarah Latham who made the birthday cake (delicious) ,  Lucy Groves, Chloe Groves  and Grace Dunbar for running the tombola, Ellena Manders, Kathryn Pidcock, Emma Fineman (pictured left) for selling Happy House bags,  Karen Miles (pictured right with Gary Webster) and Lesley Pidcock for pitching in wherever they could. 
Prizes galore for Betty
 To everyone who helped in any way , who donated prizes and who spent their money to help our Happy House kids, thank YOU.
Raffle draw: :Lynn and Adam
Paul Hatch and his lovely mum Betty

Prize haul

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Oscar gets busy

Today's blog is written by our 
Oscar.  He's a real little character and very keen to lend a hand:
I Oscar was during the half term break helping the aunties in the laundry.
I was washing the clothes, ironing and hanging the clothes on the clothes line.
I really enjoy doing this work."
Charity night
Thank you to everyone who travelled to Blackpool for our annual Happy House Charity Night and Third Birthday Party last night. It was a huge success and there will be a full report on tomorrow's blog. If you have any pictures from the night for our gallery please them email

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Party time - in Milan and Blackpool

Piera, her son Mattia and friend Elena
Grazie Piera! A massive thank you to our good friend Piera Lauria who held a very successful family lunch and cabaret at Caffe Teatro in Milan last weekend which raised 1,200euro for our Happy House family.
In an email to Mama and Elizabeth, she says:
 "About 60 people attended to the lunch, we had a full house  and the guests were absolutely satisfied:  We had colored balloons and savannah animals as table's centerpieces - zebra, elephant, rhino, monkey,  hippo, buffalo and giraffe)
Firstly, to start the day, our guests listened to the translation of the  Queen song This is the World we Created as in my opinion it is really deep and the words are terrific!
Then we showed the video of the Happy House, Making a Difference, with Mama Sue and Uncle Bill talking about your mission and telling the stories of Harry, Evans and Esther  (thanks to Elena for the translation in Italian and all the time she has dedicated to this project). At the end I added some photos took during our last visit at Happy House with Jambo-like soundtrack.
We wanted our guests to see the Hous ,the kids ,to hear about their needs and what Mama Sue has done and is doing for them. 
We also wanted to make a difference!
We highlighted that the children are doing so well there and the Happy House just gets better and better. The children are so happy now and everyone has to be reminded of how they were when they went there: frightened, hungry, sad and neglected little beings. Most of them sick as well.
Their lives have been transformed thanks to your BIG HEARTS AND EFFORT and that this is happening is also due to the kindness of people like us and we are very grateful to all the people who attended our first fundraiser for caring for the Children of Watamu.
We are proud to have friends like you.
We thought our guests like to have something to do and something to look at during the fundraising lunch, rather than just listening to me telling what my family and I lived by Happy House and enjoying the food so livening the day up was as simple as hiring a comedian and doing a raffle. Guests bought many raffle tickets during the lunch.
Then we had a pleasant lunch and a stunning comedy show! Everybody was amazed by MAX BUNNY (the Comic).
Furthermore we sold our Easter eggs…wonderful!!!
We are very satisfied of what we did during our fundraising...and much more satisfied for what we raised for the Children of Watamu: about €1.200= (we’re still selling our Easter eggs …so the aforementioned amount shall increase!)''.
Party smile from Peninah
Our thanks to Piera, Elena for pulling out all the stops to help our family and to everyone who attended the lunch, bought Easter eggs or helped in anyway. 
You truly are making a difference.
Today is the day
Today is the day! It's our annual charity night tonight .. which is also celebrating the third birthday of the Happy House. And how far we have come in those three years!
We look forward to seeing all those of you who are coming to Blackpool to join us and send our love and smile to all those of you, around the world,  who are unable to make it.
Your support, and love, are our cornerstone.