Monday, 30 December 2013

So much still to do - Mama Sue looks ahead to a new year

As we stand on the threshold of 2014 we wonder what does this year hold for us?
Home where Mama and Papa belong
 Dave and I look back over 2013 and it was a very difficult time for us, I had severe health problems that kept us in the UK away from our family. 
The children missed us just as much as we missed them. In September 2013 we arrived home to a fantastic welcome from all our family. The airport was alive with laughter, singing and dancing.
 We welcomed Rose’s baby Joy into the world, who is now a Happy House Kid coming to work with Rose. Joy is in the baby banda with our other little people.
Converting the banda
 I made a lot of changes, including converting a banda into a computer room, library and three offices to make more room upstairs for  children who need the love and safety of a home at the Happy House.
We painted everything that didn’t move, varnished the floors, put new mattresses, pillows and sheets on the beds. New curtains and bedcovers completed the makeover.
The children are thrilled with the changes and taking great care of everything, especially each other. 

The football stadium created by the kindness of Frankie Asher is a very special place, also the play area that we have developed further due to funds from the Limavady Rotary Club. Of our 78 children we have 35 who are all under five. Papa Dave calls them the Bash Street Kids.
 When we drive in the gate they start chanting, Papa Dave, Papa Dave, Mama Sue, Mama Sue, we are so lucky not many people have such a welcome to work every day. There is then a rush to where we park the car, each one wanting to shake hands with us. I know we just have the best job in the world.
Play time for Bash St kids!
 As we move into 2014, we turn our attention to the school and the education of our children and those who come into school from the local community. We have very bright children who are like little sponges soaking everything up and moving forward. 
We have increased the number of classes ready for the start of the school year in January, employed young vibrant teachers who fully understand what is expected of them. A Nigerian doctor once said to me, ‘You are giving those children a fantastic gift. The gift of an education. Once they have that no-one can ever take it away from them’ 
It is so true, wherever our children go in the world they will take the Happy House Magic with them.
 We have employed a sports teacher, who is coaching the children in football, netball, and volleyball. The little people are learning to play rounders, to skip and play hopscotch. 
We are working closely with the Children’s Office to arrange football matches with other homes in the area. We are contacting schools who have no such facilities to come and allow their children to enjoy. Many local children do not attend school, they sit by the side of the roads with blank expressions on their faces, these are the forgotten children. It is these children who come and share. It gives them something to look forward to in their often very lonely lives. We provide a simple meal of vegetables and rice. This can be the only meal they will have eaten in two days.
We are now working hard to raise funds and plan for a Secondary School. The level of education is so high at the Happy House that there is not another school these children could move on to.  We have the land to build on. We need four classrooms, a science laboratory, a staff room and toilet block. The children will use the Happy House facilities for meals plus the library and computer room. 
We have a great friendship with another charity, Furniture for Education, who will equip the school with all the desks, chairs etc. 
Bound by love
We have done the projection on the cost of materials and labour in the present economic climate. The school would be completed at a cost of £18,000.
 We are also looking further than the secondary education. In time to come we must build an Independent Living Unit for children who go to college or even university, they need a place to come home to during holidays.
 Some of our children have been abandoned at birth. Children who have no blood relatives that we have been able to trace, but are fortunate enough to be loved by the Happy House Family.
 Some of the children at the Happy House are tied by blood others tied by love. These children will always remain our responsibility, even when they leave to start work and make another life for themselves, they will always be ‘A Happy House Kid’. 
 The Government in Kenya state that when a child reaches the age of 18 they can no longer reside in a children’s home as they are now classed as an adult. How can we say to a young person, ‘All right off you go into the world.’ Parents do not do this to their own children, how can I do it to my children? And these truly are my children in every sense of the word. I am Mama and my husband is Papa to this ever growing family.
 I have committal orders from the courts to legally bind these children to me. We are the only ‘parents’ many of them will ever know. The Happy House is truly a home for these little people, a real home not just ‘A Children’s Home’.
 Home is where you know you are loved. When things go wrong you can always go home to people you can rely on. Home is where you run to when you get top marks at school. Home is where you shyly take your boyfriend to meet your Mama and all your brothers and sisters.
Home is where you get married from, and in time bring your own children to meet your family. Home is where we share laughter and sometimes tears, but where we have the true bond of being a loving caring family.
Empowering women

We have been supporting women in the community as part of our ongoing work. We help families to get back on track and take their children back into a family, with support for education and health plus guidance from the Happy House. We bring children home on a temporary basis, sometimes for a few weeks and sometimes for months to help families cope with whatever life has cruelly thrown at them. I have also spear headed a campaign for birth control among the women whose children we bring home. Women who sell themselves for a few shillings, just to be able to eat. Women who suffer mental health problems. Women who do not understand that birth control is even available. Women who are brought up as second class citizens and truly believe that a man has the right to impregnate her. 
Uncle Billy (4th from left) and network members
Our very caring Social Worker, known to the family as Uncle Billy, has organised a network of children’s homes, who all share information and generally support one another. One home might get a call to take an eight year old girl but not have a bed available, they can then ring other homes in the network to find a bed for that desperate child.
They share ideas and discuss the problems they are encountering, with children, parents or even the Government rules and regulations governing homes.
 It works so very well, many like minded people working towards caring for children and empowering women to take control of their own lives.
I spoke at a meeting with UNICEF, who do a lot of good work. They complained that they had built resource centres, but people do not come to them. I asked, ‘How do you expect people who do not have money for food to be able to pay for transport into the town?’ UNICEF has many large off road vehicles that could travel and reach so many people in the very rural areas. This is not a place where decisions can be made in offices; people need to be out there and actually hands on in the communities where there is no support, no advice, no help at all.
Education is the key
 Many, many children are raped; it can often be their own father who thinks he has the right to be the first man to take his daughter. The mothers of these children have often been married at 10 years old and had also been raped by their father. So it goes on.
 In our world we wonder how do these things become normality, but I  can assure you they do.
 A neighbour can rape a little girl, the father finds out the neighbour gives him a goat. Oh that’s all right then, the deal is done. What about the child?  Every time all this comes back to the children. 
Education is the only way out.  Not just books and computers but sex education, birth control, women’s rights. So many do not even know they have rights.
 There will always be so much to do, but with your help and support we will change and, 
yes, save lives.
 We thank each and every one of you who do so much to show our family such love and support. 
We will always need more sponsors, as our family grows in size and numbers so do their needs. 
We will always struggle to make ends meet but I know with your kindness and generosity we will achieve so much for so many, together.
 We wish you all a very happy and healthy 2014, and hope to welcome you home to the Happy House to meet our very special family.
 Love and  best wishes,
                     Mama Sue, Papa Dave and the Happy House Family xx

And they call it puppy love...

Francis, David and Musyoka have been given the very important task of feeding the family puppies, Big Al and Polly.
Musyoka, his younger brother Francis, and David seemed to grew an inch they were so pleased and proud to be given the responsibility of ensuring regular mealtimes for the two Labradors.
Papa explained how much food they should have and how often, and the three boys are sticking to a very strict regime and the pups are lapping it up!
All the children love the puppies and Uncle Billy says the Francis David and Musyoka are now known as the Happy House puppy whisperers!
New year message
Tomorrow we have a very special blog when Mama Sue looks back on 2013 and ahead to the new year and beyond. Don't miss it.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Going to the salon - by Shakila

To give our older children more independence Mama decided they should go out into the village on their own.
The boys go to the local barber to have their hair cut while the girls go in groups to a variety of small salons, and they are very small, for their braids.
Today's blogger Shakila writes: 
I am writing about the Salon. We always go to salon on a Saturday. But the small ones remain at home.
We are happy because we are going out and it’s good.
We always enjoy doing our hair  and at the salon you choose any style you want . They are many styles which you like and you will be very smart.
On a Monday when we go to school all the teachers tell as that we are very smart.
We are happy as a Happy House kids
From Shakila 
ps: Thank you, I think you will enjoy my blog.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

School blog: Preparing for a new year

Our school blog has moved Saturday just for this week and next because of Christmas and New Year, it will then be back to Wednesday as usual. Madam Rose writes: Having celebrated a merry Christmas successfully, we are now back to prior preparations the new school year. 
Teachers are busy scheming for the next term’s work, that will take 13 weeks according to the ministry of education, in order to avoid time wastage come next year.
Since we are adding two classes, two more teachers have been employed. Thorough interviews have been conducted and the teachers have shown the kind of Happy House magic that is needed in our school. They are qualified, well trained and very competitive.
Our teachers have been out in the community to talking to local parents about the high standard of education and facilities at Happy House school to encourage enrolment for the new year.
Admission is still in progress but there are very few places remaining so parents should hurry for a chance to enrol their children - the earlier the better.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Santa drops in

 Jingle bells, jingle bells , jingle all the way ...  there was music ringing out when Santa arrived with a sackful of goodies for our Happy House kids.
Excited children gathered round, laughing and chattering as he made his entrance.
This year he was given a helping hand from Jackson, our friend from Imperial Bank, and Daniella and Margaret were his mischievous helpers, the elves.
There were presents for everyone , followed by a delicious meal of hot dogs with onions and tomato ketchup, followed by ice-cream with lots of lovely fresh fruit,
Susanna Gregorio,  and Levian, the little boy she is guardian too, visited with friends to and were thrilled to see the delight of the children as they tried out the bicycles bought by money raised by GetFit , the fitness clubs in Italy and Switzerland owned by her husband, Livio Leardi.
The two labrador pups now have names -  Polly and Big Al. They have been named after Papa' mum and Sue's dad.
Mama said :"Musyoka and Francis have taken charge of the feeding programme. We bought puppy biscuits and dog meat for them and Papa has shown Musyoka how much to give
It is lovely to see the pups out playing, then they go and have a lala, just as our babies do."

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Santa's surprises

 Christmas bought some wonderful surprises for our Happy House family.
Not only did Santa bring gifts for every child, there were also gifts for everyone to enjoy and cherish.
Susanna Gregorio and her husband Livio Leardim who owns GetFit chain of fitness centres in Italy and Switzerland, have raised money at the centres to build a bicycle shed and to buy bikes for our kids.
And the little ones couldn't wait to try them out!
We have no doubt that our fast learners will soon find their balance and be free-wheeling without the need for stabilisers.
Mama and Papa also had also lined up a surprise ... two Labrador pups.
They were an instant hit with our children when Mama and Papa introduced them to the children explaining how the pups are just like little people and need to be cared for with love, care and respect.
*Santa pictures  on the blog tomorrow.
Shopping plus
Thank you for raising money for Children of Watamu Happy House - Kenya by doing your Christmas shopping online with 
Your support has made a real difference to our fundraising and together we have raised £31.98 in the last month. That is enough to buy three pairs of school shoes ready for the new term starting in January.
 As the post Christmas sales begin, if you are online shopping please shop via to help us raise much needed funds- it doesn't cost you a penny more as the donations come from the retailers you shop with!
And don't forget to spread the word to family and friends to let them know just how easy it is to fundraise for free! 
Thank you for your support.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Christmas comes ... on four legs!

The Christmas bells are ringing out to welcome our two very timely arrivals ... Mary and Joseph.
The two young donkeys are a gift to Mama from her good friends at Giriama Residence, Linda and Mary.
Mama has often said how much she would like a donkey, and now she has two beautiful young animals.
Mama chose their names in honour of the little donkey that played such an important role in the Christmas story, carrying Mary to Bethlehem.
The children will learn how to care for them and to groom them and Mary and Joseph are sure to provide the love and comfort that  a pet can.
Mama and Papa are thrilled with their wonderful and generous gift.
A happy and peaceful Christmas to all our friends, across the world, who today, and all year round, hold our family in their hearts and who give us the most priceless gift  ... love.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

The halls are decked!

 The decorations are up, the presents packed and Santa's on his way.
How exciting tomorrow will be for our children when they celebrate Christmas with their Mama and Papa.
Some of our children are spending Christmas with relatives, as we have continued to strengthen their bonds with their families, and they were waved off by Mama and Papa on Saturday.
As Santa hasn't yet called in at the Happy House they will have their gifts when they come home.
For those who remain at home, and it is always difficult when they see others leaving, Mama and Papa will make sure they a very special Christmas. 
Mama says: "They have been putting the tablecloths on and making table decorations. Musyoka is in charge of that! 
"The girls have been trying on their wings, and Katana and Daniella are the two elves.
''Auntie Coral is just making some alterations to the suits.
" Papa is out buying sausages, more ice cream and lots of bananas, melons and pineapples, so much better than sticky lollie ! We actually managed to get ice cream cones in Nakumat last week. Josphat is making the bread rolls. So we seem organised ready for tomorrow."
Thank you to every one of you who has send Christmas parcels, cards and greetings to your special Happy House friends and to all our family,
Your love and care means so much and will make another magical Christmas for our kids.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Surprise visits for two little girls

 There have been surprise visits for two of our Happy House kids.
Mama Tima, who cared for Natasha Franco from her being just a babe in arms until she was five, came to see how she is doing.
She brought with her her own family and Natasha's two older brothers Al Haj, 13, and Jamal, eight, who are living under in the care of a well wisher.
Uncle Billy says it is good for her to maintain her links with brothers and with Mama Tima
There were also visitors for Happy John. Child rights activist, Supa, and her friends called in to say hello the little girl who Supa has supported.
They very kindly brought with them gifts of maize, maize flour, cakes and biscuits for our family.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Surprise presents - by Janet

Some of our older kids have recently moved into bedrooms upstairs, so that we will be able to give a home to more children in need.
And Mama wanted to make the move a special part of growing up for the big kids by letting each group choose materials for their room, and to have a real say in how it should look.
To their great excitement, Mama and Papa has another treat in store as Janet, today's guest blogger, tells us:
This is Janet writing a blog about the surprise presents bought by Mama and Papa for our new rooms upstairs.
It was on a Sunday, when Mama and Papa went out for shopping, as they were purchasing things they needed.
While they were in the shop they saw something special which they knew ,as soon as they purchased it for us, that we will be very happy.  
The next day, Mama called the room leaders for upstairs.  There are three of us.
So we went in the office after our holiday clubs in the evening.
Suddenly we saw mama taking out three bags with something inside of the three bags. 
We were also surprised when Mama gave us the bags on looking inside the bags there were radios for our rooms, we felt so excited.
We thanked mama for the lovely radios 
Sent with love from Janet x

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Festive cheer from the Lyndene

Bringing festive sparkle to hundreds of guests is a speciality at the family-run, Lyndene Hotel on Blackpool's promenade.
And even though it's one of the busiest times of year, director Debbie Dunn found time to hand over a wonderful £350 collected in the Happy House bucket which lives on the reception desk.
Debbie (left), who works at the hotel along the owners, her parents Barry and Carol Young, and her husband Steve, was moved to support our family after reading Mama Sue's inspirational story in the Blackpool Gazette.
As well as the collecting bucket, the Lyndene also sponsors two of our children, Sifa and Mellis.
Thank you to Debbie and to staff and guests or their love and support.
Debbie is pictured with colleague Susan Sainsbury.
Driving ambition 
Every good wish to Birmingham businessman, Jonathan Heeley, of Smart Driving Solutions who will set out at night fall to today drive the length of UK from Land's End to John O'Groats, on one tank of fuel, in the hours of darkness. It's a tough call, but Jonathan is motivated to do it by his own driving prowess and to raise money for our Happy house family.
Good luck, Jonathan, we look forward to seeing a picture of you at the start and finish!
Next Steps
Thank you to children and staff at Next Steps Childcare Centre, The Royal Bath and West Showground, for their donation of money raised for our family in 2013.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Birthdays bring a bonus!

There's been a birthday bonus this week for Musyoka.

He'd already celebrated what we thought to be his birthday way back in March, but when, after three years, his grandfather arrived with his birth certificate we discovered not only was his birthday in December, he was also two years older!
Such is the mystery with some of our children, and unravelling the  "secret" of their birthdate is an arduous but necessary task which takes up a great deal of Uncle Billy's time.
As there would be a very long time from last March, until December 2104, Mama decided Musyoka should have two birthdays this year!

No wonder he's laughing when he receives a gift and a hug from his Mama.
Also celebrating their birthdays this week are Mercy (top right) and the eldest in our family, Lucinda, who is 17.
There was a Star of the Week award for Jedida (above left) for being so loving to all those around her.
Happy birthday kids, and well done Jeddy.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Making the magic work

 Every birthday at the Happy House is special and a cause for celebration, but sometimes there is a child's birthday that is not only heart-warming, it is heart-stopping.
And this week our beautiful and determined David is three years old.
David, abandoned in hospital shortly after he was born, has defied all the odds. Firstly, by surviving at all - he was such a poorly baby. And then, at 10 months, he was diagnosed with Down's Syndrome and Mama and Uncle Billy were told he would probably never walk, nor ever amount to much. 
But at the Happy House we don't wish or wait for our magic to work, we make it work. We put all our energies into finding out how we could help him and. then armed with the best information, into encouraging  and exercising him to get mobile - mentally and physically. 
Our wish was to help this little boy to be his best, we didn't want rewards, but seeing David, now in school, chasing after a football and laughing and playing with his peers is worth more than any treasure. 
David is our diamond, a sparkling example who lights up the lives of those around him.
To see his curiosity as he receives his birthday gift from his Mama Sue should make all those of you who invest your time, energy and money into supporting our family so proud.
Without you, magic like this just could not happen.
From David, his Mama and his Papa, and all the family, thank you.
Pictures of more birthdays celebrated at Kidz Club and our Star of the Week will be on the blog tomorrow.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

School blog: Lessons in life

Our headteacher, Mr Athumani, reports!
 The quest for knowledge continues in the school holidays when holiday club has many activities for the children to enjoy, have fun and to feed their hungry minds.
There were so many things for them to do – from games to improve times tables and time telling, to reading, football and other sports.
The kids really enjoy taking part.
We have some who want to be teachers when they grow up, or social workers as they see Uncle Billy at work and understand what he does, or others want to be journalists as they have learnt from Aunty Libby. You could always find a group of kids reading newspapers or a storybook or novel.
Well organized into groups, the children had full use of our new resource centre created by Mama and Papa. How fascinating it is to see and to have such a lovely place.
Learning in Happy House takes place at different places – in the classroom, playingfield, greenhouses, kitchen or resource centre. The children can get their information first hand from the person who knows the subject best.  The kids value this as it helps them to have a better understanding.
They are sorry that holiday club has come to an end, and look forward to the next time.
Our children have been back in class for the last week or so, finishing at the end of this week,to ensure we make most of every chance to learn.
Mama says, quite rightly, that we only have one chance of education.
All teachers have been working to help each of child to stretch themselves to reach their full potential and to provide them with challenges  to help them forge ahead in the coming school year.

Last minute shopping?
Online shopping at the last minute for Christmas?  Please can raise money for our Happy House family at the same time by tapping into  donations available from hundreds of major retailers and businesses (inc Amazon, M&S, Tesco etc) at the press of a button - no cost and no catch!  It's not just for Christmas but all the year round. It's a win win!
Thank you.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Sporting gifts

There was an early Christmas gift to keep our kids on the ball.
Day pupil at Happy House School, Faida Peterson brought a donation of two football and 26 bibs, gifts from Guido Bertoni, managing director of Garoda Beach Resorts.
Guido and his wife sponsor Faida who is in class five.
Our sports coach Steve is seen receiving a football from Faida.
Mama Sue is keen on extending the facilities we have to children living in the local communities.The library, football training field  and equipment is available to other children homes and schools who may wish to make use of the wonderful resources we have.
Hopefully, in the new year the Children's Department will set the ball rolling for a programme  to link with the other 18 children's homes locally.
Uncle Billy says: "This will truly keep making a difference in the wider community as we always endeavour to do."
Thank you Mr Bertoni and family!

Monday, 16 December 2013

Volunteer Toni flies in from Oz

Toni and Janet ready for the beach
 Our new volunteer Toni Lamond has now settled in after her first week at the Happy House.
Toni, who has worked in both the fields of hospitality and horticulture, is spending three months with our family and has travelled all the way from Australia.
Toni writes: 
I come from the land down under ,  the children call me Aunty Toni.  I am writing this on my fourth day here and my sixth day in Watamu.
Volunteers get the week end off, which is great. I will be here for 12 weeks in total so I should get to know this place and the people very well.
The first day I arrived, the teachers and volunteers took the younger children on a  short nature walk, close to the Happy House, all holding hand and helping each other.
At lunch that day and every day they all sit down quietly, say their prayers, and then eat.  And then it’s lala (sleep time), for the younger ones. Its quite amazing how they lie on their tummies and are sleeping in no time.
The next day was a big trip to the beautiful Watamu beach. We all had a hoot! Many kids climbing all over me at once was a bit like a beauty treatment - sand body scrub, what more could you want?
On the walk back to Happy House we dropped into Giriama residence to show the children their two tortoises.  We have  a  refreshing  soda. Can you imagine around 50 children sitting quietly  waiting for their drinks, it`s incredible how well behaved they are. 
 On a normal day in the school holidays, like today, we take the kids outside and play from 9am till lunch. The children just love the KG castle and the playhouse and the swings. It is not hard to keep the children happy, of course you get the odd squabble here and there but in  general they are fantastic!
How can you not love them?
Everyone , once in their life, should have this experience -it opens your world and your heart.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Mama and Papa making a difference - by Evans

Our Happy House kids benefit from and the enjoy the changes Mama has made since she returned from the UK in September, as today's blogger, Evans, tells us:
I am writing a blog about how Mama and Papa are making a difference at the Happy House.
It is nice and loving to see new changes at the Happy House.
Since Mama and Papa came home, there are a lot of changes. We, the Happy House kids,  appreciate what they are doing by taking care of the things that they do for us.
These new changes are; The new reading and relaxing room a and the new bedrooms.
The rooms are very nice, Mama  thought the big ones could have there own space to relax.
When they had come home from UK they an idea that we Young Farmers could have a small business.
They share their idea and everybody liked the idea. They said if we could plant crops then can we sell them to some of the hotels. And then we save the money for trips.
The young farmers like this and did as they were told.
 And now we are waiting to harvest then we will sell.''

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Santa's helpers

Housemum, Auntie Nancy is Santa's helper this year.
She has the very important job of making sure the parcels he delivers to our kids are just right for their ages, sizes and likes.
And it is thanks to all of YOU, wherever you are in world, that he has enough goodies to go round our very big family.
Parcels are arriving all the time and we are just so grateful to every single one of  you for the amazing love and friendship you show to or children.
Uncle Billy says: "We are getting Santa’s goody bags ready so as to meet the deadline on D-day! We wish to thank you all for the Christmas cards, clothing , stationery, sanitary packs, colouring books and pencils, Christmas trimmings and gift bags, DVDs, story books, flash cards etc.
Aunty Nancy is busy with packaging the little surprises for everyone which  will go a long way in ensuring that all the children feel loved and cared for. We feel indebted to you all and we trust that our good Lord will bless you and make all your dreams come true in the festive season."
It seems that even at this time of year, when everyone is so busy, that you have our family uppermost in your thoughts.
Thank you.
Birthday boy
Birthday boy Fred  looks very happy indeed after receiving his birthday gift at Kidz Club.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

VIP invitation to the bank

 Kenya's Imperial Bank is celebrating its 20th birthday and the Watamu branch invited some Very Important little People to cut the cake.
The Happy House is one of its biggest customers and so we were asked if all the children celebrating their birthdays in November and December could attend.
Linus and Hajiri were given the honour of cutting the cake, a job they they took very seriously indeed, and all the children received birthday cards and cake.
The bank made sure that no one was left out and sent biscuits and juice back with our children to share with all the family at home.
Thank you Imperial for making us a part of your party, and Happy Birthday to you.
Pictures: Top left: Linus and Hajiri cut the cake, and (bleow left) with the goodies to take home to our family. Top right: A birthday card for Lucinda and (blow right) a birthday card for Mercy.