Wednesday, 31 December 2014

School Report: Getting set for 2015 and kids on a thank you mission

School may be closed until Monday, but our teachers are busy getting ready for the start of term, and the new school year, on Monday.
They are working with Mama to plan the move to the kindergarten on the new site and all it entails to have the classrooms  set for pupils.
During the break, they have also
been out and about canvassing the local communities in  Matsangoni, Malindi and Gede, to advertise the school and bring in more fee-paying pupils. 
These fees help our charity to sustain the school which is run on a not-for-profit basis.
The teachers also enjoyed taking part in the family's Christmas celebration, helping prepare the meal, and taking  their turn in the spotlight to entertain the children.

Thank you 

Good manners are so important in childhood and throughout life and our children are growing up understanding that using their "nice words", saying please and thank you, are an absolute must.
They also understand that they should look after each other and their home.
The result is polite, kind and caring kids and who appreciate all the lovely items they have in their home and the people whose donations and gifts make such a difference to their lives.
So there was no shortage of volunteers to go with Papa to say thank you to the very kind local businessman, Ali Modhammed, who donated three goats for their Christmas dinner.
He owns a big hardware shop, Sheikh Mohammed Hardware, in Malindi which is where Papa goes to buy supplies and Papa took a group of children to see him and to say thank you on behalf of their brothers and sisters.
Kind hearted Ali insisted that his brother should be on the picture instead of him.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

School build forges ahead

Teachers look round
With the new school year beginning in less than a week,  all the stops are being pulled out to get Happy House school ready for start of term.
As you will know, we had to take the decision to move the school on to a new site, already earmarked for our secondary school, to ensure we complied with a change of regulations for the education of children living in children's homes.
The rules, which surfaced when we started the procedure to renew our registration, require children to attend school outside the confines of a home.
In just a matter of weeks, our Little Chicks nursery school has been demolished and rebuilt, using as much of the salvaged materials as possible, on the new site. It is now nearing completion.
The primary school, a complete new build, may not be ready by the start of term but it will not be far behind and, in the meantime, the existing classrooms will be used. As soon as the school is finished, those classes will also transfer and the vacant rooms will be put to use to take more children, in desperate need of a safe home, into our family.
Carlos, our builder, has been managing the construction work under the watchful eye of Mama Sue and Papa Dave.
Little Chicks, almost complete
Papa has been negotiating for materials in order to get the best prices possible.
The build has also been a bonus to the local community, with so many people are out of work because of the huge slump in tourism, as it has employed up to 60 men and women on the site.
Mama said: "We took the teachers to the school this (Monday) morning ,they loved it !! The inside is now being painted the galana pathway around it just about finished pointing.
"We are now planning the move."
The kids  are so excited too, They can't wait to go out to school every day.
What a happy sight it will be as they all leave in the mornings and come home in the afternoons.
Volunteer Susan James with primary school backdrop
The only drawback is the huge financial setback. It is a something we could not have anticipated and will use up money we had as a contingency fund -  vital when running an undertaking as big as the Happy House which has so many young lives depending on it.
But it was the only course of action we could take, and in the long term the most cost effective, so we hold on to our hope that because it is right for our family, the money will come.
If you would like to make a donation please go to:
Or if you  know of any trusts or organisations that might consider making a grant to Happy House, please get in touch.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Cash injection from Bupa

Our Bupa friends
Generous staff at Bupa have given us a healthy tonic!
The Bupa central people team based in Holborn, London, raised £1000 in the run up to Christmas.
They heard about Happy House from colleague Andrew Dickinson, a member of Musyoka's sponsor family, who, with his wife Amy, volunteered with our family last year.
His mum and dad, Michael and Sheila,  sponsor Musyoka's brother,Francis, and his sister, Anna, is in their sister Mwende's sponsor family.
Andrew was delighted when the team he works with took up his suggestion of raising money for our Happy House, as he explains:
 "We work across the Bupa group of companies to provide HR support and services to the 76,000 Bupa employees globally.
 The Bupa founding purpose that drives all our work is to provide longer, healthier and happier lives to our customers and wider population.
Andrew and Amy with Musyoka and Francis
 This is why I am so pleased we have supported the Happy House because you are an amazing example and really bring our purpose to life for each and every Happy House kid, providing them with the opportunity of a longer, healthier, happier life.
The fund raising efforts were led by Aimee Lugard and Rachael Winston who are our key administrative support team. 
They took on my idea of raising money for the Happy House with great enthusiasm and big hearts!.
A few of the children needing dental treatment
 They got the team to agree to donate instead of a secret santa across our 30 people strong team and also got the whole office involved in a cake sale. This meant people from across our team baking festive treats and then selling them in our head office in London where about 300 people work.
 I also have to mention Bob Costa and Rachael Winston for the personal generosity in making large one off donations that really helped us blow our target of £250, four times over!"
Mama Sue,  delighted with the donation which has come at a a very difficult time, has told Andrew that it will be used to cover the costs of dental treatment and also to buy text books for school. 
She asked him: "Please thank everyone who has worked so hard for the children, it is greatly needed and truly appreciated.
Our  family has had a growth spurt, we are now just about at 101, with more to come I know. The lack of visitors is really biting into the community now.
 There are a few more people here just now, but mainly Italians who have their own houses so do not bring work for the hotels. 
 This donation is a great relief to us as we are also suffering from lack of visitors, who bring food, clothes shoes and many other much needed items.
  It is a tough time for us but we are a loving family so together we will all get through this difficult time. We have so much love and support around us from so many kind and generous people."

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Wonderful Mama and Papa - by Margaret and Janet

Janet and Margaret were among the first children to come to Happy House when it opened in 2010, and with Mama and Papa's love and encouragement they are growing up into confident and clever young women -  sisters in all but blood.
And today, they tell us how much their Mama and Papa mean to all the family:
This is Janet and Margaret writing about how important .Mama and Papa are in our Happy House family.
They have made it a wonderful place for children to achieve their goals.
If it could not be for Mama Sue and Papa Dave’s kind hearts then a lot of kids could not have achieved anything. 
Mama and Papa have helped children with everything they need and made children smile again.
Mama and Papa  have made everybody happy at the Happy House family and we appreciate your kindness and generosity.
You have shown you are such wonderful people who care and love children very much.
We are hoping that our dreams will come true, with your support.
Thank you Mama and Papa for making differences in our life. 

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Pizza and pilau treats

Christmas treats were on the menu for our Happy House family - pizza and doughnuts amongst them!
The older children had fun making the mamhari dough for the traditional breakfast sweet treat.
The pizza  at snack time came courtesy of the generous owners of Hosteria Romana, a lovely Italian restaurant in Watamu.
And how the children loved it!
For Christmas Day lunch they tucked into chicken pilau (always a favourite) followed by ice-cream.

Friday, 26 December 2014

Farhida comes home to Christmas

In the true spirit of Christmas, we will always have room for another.
And look who came home to Mama on Christmas Eve?  A beautiful baby girl name Farhida.
Farhida, who is seven months old, had the most tragic start in life with a mum who has mental health problems which were endangering herself and her baby.
Farhida is now entrusted to our care where she will get the love and nurture she needs.
Mama said: " All the girls had their arms out ready to take her from me and to the aunties."
If you would like to help support a Happy House child by  joining our sponsor family please email

Thursday, 25 December 2014

The greatest gift ,,,,

Christmas is all about giving.
And we hope today, as you open your gifts, you will truly enjoy every minute of this special day.
The gift we we are able to give to children in Kenya, thanks to the work of our inspirational Mama Sue and to each one of you who supports our charity, will stay with them always.
In our Happy House we give them hope, love and respect.
 In our school, the gift is education and opportunity it brings with it.
When Sue first started her work in Watamu in 2000, she was very much on her own, working all hours to gather support for the school she was determined to pull into the 21st century, and to give the teachers the tools with which to teach.
With the enduring love and encouragement of Papa Dave, she registered a charity in 2003, and started a sponsorship scheme to help put needy children through school.
Assad was one of them.
He was sponsored in 2003 by a husband and wife who were regular visitors to Turtle Bay Hotel. When the wife died, the sponsorship fizzled out but Mama continued to fund him until 2007 when he was one of her first sponsor children to  graduate from class eight, achieving  the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education  - a landmark in the life of every Kenyan child.
Now 21, Assad met up Mama and Papa  again, by chance.
Mama says:
How pleased he was. He says were are his Mama and Papa as he was an orphan when he came to school.
He talked about us having parties at school, and giving bicycles so kids would get to school more quickly and of how, when he went to college, he knew all about computers because of what I had done to equip his school.
He remembered when he finished primary after getting his  KCPE.  "When we passed Mama you were so proud of us," he said.
I told him:  I still am.
He was holding my hand and kissing me.
He knew Dave had been in the army and that he supports Leeds, he remembered everything." 
Assad  says: "I was in SDA in 2003 to 2007. 
Am so proud of Mama Sue and Mr David who made me and changed my life. 
I am  so thankful of them, they pay for me for all I need for four years.
I am so proud of them. They are good, gentle, caring and the loveliest people have ever met in my life. They are good people. They changed my life in study for free and give everything for me.
I am so thankful and grateful to them and pray they have  all the best in their life.
I treasure them in my life forever.
God Bless them."
Sue's meeting Assad brought the realisation of hope she has held in her heart for years.

"When we first  were first sending shoeboxes out to school, I told Dave that, in years to come, I would like a young man to come to me and say: I remember you coming to our school and giving me a present. Now it has happened."
Assad is not a lone voice, there are hundreds like him who will not forget their gift from Mama.
Her gift to Assad, and to all of them,  was an education which now, as an adults is helping them to rise above the poverty they were born into and to strike out to fulfil their own hopes and dreams.

Happy days for Jeremiah

For little Jeremiah who had lived with hardship and hunger before joining our family a few days ago ,  his dreams are coming true as he discovers,   for the first time,  the joy of being a child at Christmas.
He is pictured (left) on the day he arrived, filling his tummy with his first meal for two days, and on the right, cuddling his new teddy by our Christmas tree. 
Now he goes to sleep in a bed and wakes up to a breakfast every day - and this morning it was the traditional festive treat, doughnuts!

Happy Christmas.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Christmas festival with Italian friends

 Our children were guests of the local Italian community when they celebrated a Christmas festival.
They had put up a tree on the roadside at Richlands and our children painted seed pods silver and red to decorate it.
There was singing and dancing and our Happy House kids were happy to take their turn to entertain and did their Mama and Papa proud, as always!
They enjoyed sweet treats and drinks and had a brilliant morning.
Thank you ViVi Watamu for inviting us to be a party of your special morning.

Homeward bound

Jo and Peter Reid, their son Maxwell and his friend Ben Cheston are now back home on the Fylde coast after an incredible visit to the Happy House.
Ben and Max were volunteering throughout their stay, and Peter and Jo also helped out in any way they could ... with Peter being given a starring role at our Christmas celebration.
Thank you Jo, Peter, Max and Ben for your support and your friendship.

On the ball

 Italian footballer Alessandro Lucrarelli  called in on the Happy House yesterday.
 Alessandro, who plays for Parma,  his wife Cristiana and sons Mateo,  Jacopo and Diego, who are holidaying in Kenya, brought with them many gifts including clothes and pencils.

They also made  a donation towards our food bill.
The kids loved meeting them all and we are very grateful to them for their generosity.
* Our blog brings you news from the Happy House every day of the year, including Christmas Day, so don't forget to check in tomorrow for a story that will lift your spirits.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Jeremiah need never go hungry again

 Her legs paralysed, this grandmother's only mobility is her wheelchair,
It is difficult for her manoeuvre and the only way she could get to visit her granddaughter Keziah at the Happy House was by asking local children to help.
She brought with her  a grandson Jeremiah, who like his cousin, Keziah, had been abandoned by his mum who moved on leaving him behind with his grandmum.
That Jeremy and his grandmother were in hardship was in no doubt.
Mama Sue and Uncle Billy  watched as she hauled herself out of her wheelchair,  and shuffled on her bottom., her legs dragging up the steps into the banda.
Talking  with her grandmother, Uncle Billy and Mama learned she and the little boy hadn't eaten for two days because she had no means of buying food.
Her only income is from begging,  and she had been taking Jeremy,who is around three years old, with her.
But in times of general hardship, the pickings are small.
Mama ensured they were given a nourishing meal, and it to the grandmother's relief, it was agreed that little Jeremy should come home to Happy House where he would be loved and cared for and would never go hungry.
Mama also arranged to get the grandmother and her wheelchair back home in the comfort of our transport.
Jeremy is settling in well and having fun with his new little playmates who are making sure he feels at home!

Monday, 22 December 2014

Children in need join our family

 In a country like Kenya, where there is no benefits system, the death of a husband and breadwinner can drive a widow into despair and destitution
As hard as they may try, when they cannot be sure of putting food on their tables, the women give into defeat, seeking to put their kids into care while they try to earn a living and get their lives back on track.
Their situations are are made worse by the hardship caused to the community because of the massive fall in tourism.
This was the case for both  Fatuma and Ann whose children joined our Happy House family last weekend - just in time for our Christmas party day!
Fatuma's husband died in a a motorcycle accident in Gede last year. 
He had been working as an electrician at a local hotel.
After his burial in his ancestral homeland of Tsavo, Fatuma found it impossible to settle there with her children Hussein, six, and Husna, nine.
She returned to live with her own widowed mother in Watamu who, having suffered a  stroke four years ago, was in need of help.
They were in dire straits. Unable to afford fees or uniform, the children were no longer attending school.
Fatuma needs to be able to work to try to reorganise her life and to look after her mum,  so Hussien and Husna have joined our family where  she knows they will be safe, loved and educated.
Ann and her children Zeria , 12, and Reece , five,  were all living in a single rented room
After losing her husband recently to liver cancer, Ann has been struggling to pick up the pieces and to support her family.
Having been brought up in a children's home, she has no relatives of her own to help her.
Her eldest son , Claude, who is 16, and is in form two primary school,  is currently at his paternal grandfather's homestead.
Ann says her in-laws are aged and ailing and not able to give her support.
She is trying to earn a living going from house to house offering to do laundry work in exchange for a fee.
Her husband had worked as a welder and supported his family with ease, but without him they have nothing. 
We have not yet establish the certainty of Claude's future schooling.
For now Zeria and Reece have been taken into the loving care of our family, initially for two to three years to give their mum a chance to find work and is able to support them at home and in school.
All our children gathered (right) to greet their new "brothers and sisters" and to make them feel welcome from their very first minute in our family.
Tomorrow: Jeremiah comes home to happy House.
If you would like to help by sponsoring a Happy House child, please email

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Best day ever - by our kids

The Happy House Christmas Party Day was for the whole family, and everyone played their part.  The children were at the heart of the organisation and hosted the event. Today, nine young bloggers give their view of a happy day.
 Janet: The day we had been eagerly waiting for finally came.
On Tuesday morning, everyone was really shining and very smart after we had our breakfast.
By the time Mama, Papa and all the visitors come everything was in order and under control.
Margaret being the master of ceremony welcomed Musyoka to officially open the ceremony with a word of prayer.
The program was well set by the MC and soon the entertainments started.
Father Christmas came at 10am and something very funny was when the young ones saw him riding the donkey with the presents in the cart they started crying, seeking for help from their brothers and sisters.
 After presenting the gifts to everyone Margaret called upon the fellowship group who had three Christmas songs to present.
 While they were singing the kids were also having their snacks.

 There was an acrobatic group who had an item to entertain us.
 After that some of the young girls’ cat walked and they were very good, we had staff dancing competition then we had our lunch the lunch was very delicious then we all had an ice cream with fruit salad. The party ended well and hope everyone enjoyed themselves.
Jedida: On Tuesday, the Happy House kids were celebrating Christmas day.
Mama Sue invited some of her friends. There were many people at the party.
The party was good and we enjoyed very much.
I was very excited .
Margaret was in charge of the party.
We sang the Chrismas songs.
After Father Chrismas came. He gave the Happy House kids some Christmas presents.
Then it was snack time and we ate some fruits and some samosa and after that it was some of the activities.
Soon it was lunch time we ate pilau, goat, fruit, salad, ice cream.
So after that we danced until the party ended.
Baraka: We were waiting for Father Christmas and he came with the donkeys. We were happy to see him.
He began to give the presents. When he finish giving out presents, there were some activities, like dancing, catwalking; some acrobatics and fellowship group.
We really enjoyed, it was real nice day.
Thank you Mama Sue for the party.
We were all so excited about the Christmas party, the aunties had something to entertain for us. And it was a Giriama dance, also the children had something to show Mama Sue.
The master of ceremony was Margaret she had to give out the papers of the party programmes to the teachers, Mama Sue, the Uncles and all the big adults. The first program was High school musical,  Rukia and Samson were the singers, after that then aunties.  I loved the way they danced .
had a great day at the Happy House. We had early Christmas and it was very fantastic.
Everybody was doing something on that special day, we had difference activities that the guests were entertained with, these are songs and, dances we also had acrobatics I really enjoyed during that time of acrobatics, it was my best part.
We had a BBQ surely it was the best Christmas ever.
When we finished eating breakfast, Aunty Fatuma told us that we go and change into our safari clothes.
We were very happy to be told that.
The big boys and girls they helped the small girls and boys to wear their clothes.
After that we went to put on our clothes then we went to the big banda and Evans had the music on and we danced. And then the master of ceremony came.
We started our activities at nine a.m.  We started with High School Musical after that we watched the aunties dancing.. Then Father Christmas came and gave us presents.
For lunch we ate pilau, meat, ice cream and fruits salad.
We had a great day. We planned the party ourselves and it went wonderful. We sang danced and we were entertained by the aunties, uncles and teachers. And we really had a wonderful day and also we enjoyed the delicious food. Thanks, mama, for being a wonderful mother.
We had early Christmas it was a happy day to everyone it was the best Christmas I have ever seen. There were activities which were done, they were so nice like catwalking not  only that one but also  we had a dance, acrobatic, fellowship singing a song, teachers with their  song, and aunties with Giriama dance also the uncles the danced their song.
 Father Christmas came and gave as some presents we had a nice lunch we enjoyed ourselves.
 I will never forget that day

It was on Tuesday morning when everybody had prepared her or his self for the party.
That party was for many people and we also had different activities to do. Example of the
activities that we had are dancing, Christmas songs and also acrobatic.
Then we had many
Types of food which had been brought by Mama Sue. She had brought three goats and one
sack of rice.

 We also had the master of ceremony Margaret and her assistant was Musyoka.
If you missed yesterday's link to our video of this happy day, here it is again:

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Happy House Christmas 2014 - on video

It one of the busiest weekends of the year.
You are likely to be rushing around doing your last bits of shopping and getting everything set for the big day on Thursday.
So we are giving you an excuse to make yourself a cuppa, put your feet up for 15 minutes and see how our family Christmas celebration unfolded.
With songs from the children, a visit from Santa, dancing from our kids and the aunties entertainment is guaranteed.
And then there are our catwalk divas, some of the smallest members of the family, coached by their big sisters, who strut their stuff like seasoned fashionistas!
Enjoy, share it with your friends, and thank you, every single one of you, who sent parcels or donations to help make this day possible.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Elves deliver Christmas memories

 Volunteers play an important role at the Happy House and, in return,  we hope to enrich their lives with experiences  that will last a lifetime.
Those who come to us are of all ages, from many different countries and backgrounds, but who share a common aim - to make a difference.
They work in our family assisting with a multitude of tasks in our busy household and school.
They turn their hands to anything and everything, but it's not often that they are asked to be elves!
Ben with Said and Ndoro
That's exactly what happened when Santa was recruiting his helpers for our Family Christmas Celebration this week.
Max and  Saumu
 Volunteers, Ben Cheston and Maxwell Reid were in the right place at the right time, and there were costumes, in just their size, in Santa's sack
Friends Max and Ben, both from the Fylde coast of Lancashire, were game for a laugh and happy to to play their part in bringing Christmas joy to our 100 kids, teaming up with Max's dad, Peter, who played the man in the red suit.
The two lads, who fly back to the UK at the weekend, will not only have had a memorable experience, they will also have the joy of knowing they will not be forgotten!

Thursday, 18 December 2014

A Christmas box of delights

Christmas is a magical time for any child but for our children at the Happy House, who have come to us with so little, it means so much.
While those who have been with us for a previous Christmas there is the excitement of the build up to the big day, and when that day dawns, as it did on Tuesday, their faces lit up with anticipation of what is to come.
And the day didn't disappoint as the kids had a ball
All except the youngest member of our family, Abdul, who screamed his head off when it was his turn to meet Santa, but his tears soon turned to smiles when he realised that the bearded stranger was bearing gifts!.
But for the rest of  those who have joined our family this year, it was a magical mystery tour ...  of celebration, entertainment and, for the first time ever, a gift from Santa.
At the request of the children, our Christmas Celebration came early so that Uncle Billy, Auntie Rose,  teachers and other staff members who would be off on Christmas Day, some travelling long distances to be with relatives, could enjoy it with them.
As Mama has always wished, and encouraged, her children are caring and sharing and having their special day without the adults who play such an important part in their lives wouldn't be the same.
The highlight was the arrival of Santa and his elves, this year Peter Reid, took on the role with his son Max and his friend Ben Cheston as his helpers.
Santa arrived in a cart , laden with gifts, drawn by our donkeys Mary and Joseph. 
There were cheers as they came through the gate, with excited children jumping up and down and dancing with delight.
There was a programme of entertainment opening with  songs from High School Musical, Wind Beneath My Wings, and entertainment from the aunties before Santa distributed gifts with help from Mama and Auntie Velma. It is thanks to all those of you who so kindly sent parcels that every child received a lovely new outfit from Santa -  best, or as they call them "safari", clothes for high days and holidays.
Then there was more fun, song, dancing, a fashion show by the toddlers and the teachers and uncles took their turn to entertain.
The Fellowship Group sang with guitar accompaniment and there was more dancing and a jaw-dropping display by a team of local acrobats.
No Christmas celebration is complete without a meal and our family enjoyed roasted meat, chicken, pilau ,salad, fruit salad with ice cream, juice and apples.
This Christmas means so much to Mama and Papa. It has been a difficult year, with a prolonged stay in the UK when Mama needed treatment on her fractured leg. 
For much of  that time they were uncertain when they would be able to travel home and a family Christmas seemed a distant dream, but now it is here , and they are there, exactly where they want to be, and where they belong.
Mama says 

"On our Christmas Day I was so proud of everyone. 
"All the staff pulled together to prepare the delicious food. The teachers made mahamri doughnuts and samosas on Monday. The children helped to chop the fresh fruit salad.
"The outside staff slaughtered three goats, a present from a hardware store in Malindi, ready to barbecue.
"We had chicken, pilau rice and salad. It was truly a feast. 
"As snacks the children were given fresh oranges and samosas.
" At four everyone had an apple. 
"The children organised the entertainment, they sang songs, did some dancing and brought the little ones to do a  catwalk show
".I had asked the teachers, aunties, and outside staff to also do something for the children as after all it is the children’s day. I always feel we are building childhood memories.
 "Santa arrived on the donkey cart, it was just brilliant. At the end of the afternoon everyone was saying the best party ever!!
 "When it came to dinner time at six No one wanted anything but fruit salad and juice and all went to bed just as they should be, happy, happy, Happy House Kidz."
* Watch this space for a video of Christmas at the Happy House. Coming soon!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Christmas starts with a treat

There was a sweet start to our Family Christmas Day when our children tucked into breakfast of mahamri,  delicious doughnuts, made with coconut milk, and a traditional festive treat in local villages.
And the dough had been made on Monday by our teachers who spent the day in the kitchen helping the aunties to prepare a feast which included pilau, goat, tropical fruit salad and ice cream.
Once breakfast was over, and the banda ready for the big day, the children, dressed in their best clothes, and bubbling over with excitement, fathered to wait the arrival of a very special guest ... flying in directly from the North Pole for the occasion.
More of Christmas at the Happy House on tomorrow's blog.