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Today I went to town and used my PHONE to pay for EVERYTHING.
See, here in the 'third world' we have this really cool, modern thing called 'mpesa.' Basically, we load money on our phone by going to a little shop, handing the guy cash, and then he sends it digitally to our 'mpesa wallet' on our phone.
In a society where most people do not have bank accounts, and having cash in one's house is risky, mpesa is amazing.
Mpesa is everywhere. I took a taxi and paid by sending 'money' to the taxi driver's phone number.
I paid for our 30 'day old' chicks the same way.
I paid for our lunch, our groceries, our cow feed, etc... all through my cell phone that has now turned into my virtual wallet.
I pay our workers this way, as well, keeping our house cashless and safe.
Pretty cool? Huh? Money from our USA bank can be sent directly to my phone, too! It is INSTANT. No waiting. No going to a moneygram office or an atm. It is like someone handing me cash over thousands of miles right into my hands.
It has its limits, though. It only allows $1,000 worth of transactions in one day, and that is the max amount you can have in your 'wallet' at once. But we find it is a pretty modern thing for where we live.
*We have been using mpesa for years, but thought it would make an interesting article!
Our friend is doing a fundraiser to help us repair our vehicle Dolly!
We need $2,000 in 2 weeks. Please consider sharing our campaign and helping with whatever you feel led to help with. Details are on the campaign site.
If you already help support our project, we don't want you to give to the campaign, but maybe share it with your friends!
One of our readers is enjoying our archive posts so much, he suggested I remind folks that they are there! So for fun, perhaps, or to get to know us better, maybe try reading through some of our old blog posts. We have come a long way since 2005!
I like to always talk about the positive and try to keep things light, but for the sake of being completely honest, I am going to tell some truths.
As I was taking inventory of our farming successes and failures... I realised that we have not been completely successful.
Our rabbits have not produced much for us (people). Our cats have probably eaten over 150 baby bunnies over the two years since we moved here. In fact, we only have the male and the female rabbits left. The babies all vanish. Finally, we made our enclosure completely cat proof with double wire, and bunnies were hopping all over the place. A few weeks later, they started dying without any symptoms. I called the vet, but he didn't have the meds on hand. By the time he found some, the babies had all died. Hopefully, the mom and dad will produce more soon, and they will thrive.
Our cow has given birth three times since moving to The Shire. This is a success. However, each calf has been a bull, and we need more COWS. So that end of things is a failure. At least our cow produces milk for us to make butter and cheese.
Our chickens have been eating their own eggs, and they don't sit very well. From one 'couple' we have hatched and grown probably a maximum of six chickens in two years. We hardly get any eggs since they like eating them before we can. This is not a success. Since we ate the rooster this afternoon, we have found 2 eggs unharmed in the coop! Obviously, they won't be fertile, but we can eat them. I think we should just eat our 4 hens, buy 30 chicks and rear them up for future eggs and meat.
Our pigs have been the MOST successful animal on the farm. They have birthed 11 babies in the last two years, and we have sold 5 and given away the rest. We hope to buy a second sow so we can always have piglets around...
As far as farming produce goes, we managed to grow some maize that looks pretty small, but our fruit trees are growing (minus the ones the neighbor's cows munched). Plus, our boxes are growing beautiful carrots, spinach, a few beets, oregano, and strawberries!
Often times, one can get bogged down trying to find out more about A Future and a Hope like 'who we are and what we do' through our blog since we update it frequently. So we decided to build a website with basic info about us at www.afutureandahope.com
This website is a great way to share about our work in Kenya.
As we expand our project, we are needing more folks to help us out each month. What is really cool is that we are NOT a big organisation so you can see exactly where your donations go. We don't hire fundraisers nor do we take a salary. In fact, to save funds, I built the website myself, and I am continuing to tweak it a bit. So please, get to know us and be a part! We have lots of things going on, and if you are curious as to what those things are, check out our website. :)
We have been hoping to start this project for quite some time. This week, we finally started our riding therapy for children with disabilities or traumatic pasts. The first session went smoothly, and the kids were smiling ear to ear!
The benefits of horse therapy for children with Cerebral Palsy like Peter pictured above are huge. Just by riding a simple walk, his abdominal muscles will get stronger and stronger. Children who are wheelchair bound evently gain strength to sit up and some even learn to walk with assistance. But most importantly, they have fun and gain confidence through riding.
This is such a fun project. It requires a lot of work on our end keeping and training our horse to not be bothered by all of the people walking around her, the music, clapping, etc. plus getting enough people to lead the horse and walk along each side with the rider... and it requires a great deal of work from my friend Haley who hired a van, bought snacks, and convinced guardians and parents to bring their kids!
Years ago before moving to Kenya, Johnny and I bought a house in Port Arthur, TX. We felt so happy to have a bigger home that we decided to 'give back' by taking in homeless people. We received so much negative feedback from the 'church' asking us why we would do such a thing. It was the beginning of our pulling away from religion.
But what we learned from that experience was that we can help people with things that we HAVE. Start small. Step out and be bold by doing just a little with what you have where you are...
Often times, when people hear that we care for orphans in Africa, they gasp, "Wow. You are so special." And it makes me feel as if this idea exempts them from thinking they, too, can do something 'great.' I am no one special. Johnny might think he is special, I don't know... But the reality is we are normal folks who had to start somewhere. I knew that children in Kenya didn't have taxpayer dollars helping them when they lost their parents. I also knew that I loved being a mom so I decided I could offer the little I had to fill a need. I decided to be a mom to more than my own children. Now we have a small homestead in Kenya helping orphans and people in the community thanks to people like you who support us.
Fast forward to 2016, we have lived through raising 15 children. I have learned many lessons along the way. When we started taking in children (mostly preteens and teens at the time), we had expectations that our new children would be so overwhelmed with love that they would just fit in and be like our own kids. We knew they had traumatic pasts, but we didn't expect it to be difficult to connect to them. We loved them as our own, but for some reason they wouldn't talk to us, or they would do strange things like hide food in their shoes, or urinate in weird places. It was hard. We needed help, but we found that there wasn't any place in our area of Kenya that would fit the bill. Our Kenyan children had issues with trusting people because people hurt them in their pasts so counselling with a 'human' wasn't exactly the answer.
So here is where we are now: our orphansnomore are growing up. They have turned into beautiful girls who are still in our care for a few more years, but our dynamic is changing. Johnny and I feel as if we can't continue raising new batches of children forever. We are developing our farm to be a model for future orphan care projects. We also are helping orphans stay in school by paying their school fees and buying uniforms, books, etc... but I have this fire in me to fill another hole by doing something I am passionate about using things we have on hand. Once again, I find myself excited to be starting something new.
Having the farm and having the gift of having a horse that was given to us as well as tack that was donated is such a wonderful thing. (I believe every child should have a pony and learn from them if possible. Here is a good article on that.) And being the person that I am, I don't want to just keep a horse to myself. I want to use our horse to help kids in need. Why not combine the two things I absolutely love: horses and helping people? (Not to mention Kenya is the perfect place to do just that because horses are inexpensive to keep in Kenya costing around $39 or less a month for a good doing pony up to $74 a month for a guzzling Thoroughbred. That includes shoeing, hay, feed, salt, vet. That's less than people spend on a dog per month.)
This is not an 'all of a sudden' thing. I have been planning and preparing for this for YEARS. It is only now that I am feeling bolder and more confident about it. I attended a bit of training in Nairobi on two different occasions. I have studied, and I am still studying. Am I completely ready to do therapy with horses? Not quite, but if I wait until I am completely ready, I will never start. So, I will do what I always do. I will start with what I have where I am. I have people asking for this 'service,' and I have been preparing to a point where I feel like we can take the first steps to starting this endeavor.
I have a friend who works with disabled children who she believes will greatly benefit from this venture. She is not the only one hoping we get this going. Another friend who works with orphans wants to bring them here as well. Not to mention my own orphans-no-more who will and do benefit from this.
With that said, we are starting small where we are with the horse that we have. We are doing our first 'riding for disabled children' this Wednesday with three children who have cerebral palsy. I am so excited about this. I want to make children feel special, loved, and give them hope. I want to help disabled kids develop confidence and muscle tone. I want to give orphans a place they can feel love and acceptance, and I want to give struggling orphan guardians a place where they can see their children heal from traumatic pasts.
I don't think horses are THE answer nor will this be all we do, but I do believe they can be a part of how we bring hope to the hopeless.
There is a school, a nursery school, in Nakuru run by a good friend of mine. Nursery school in Kenya goes for three years. You have your baby class, middle class, and top class. When one graduates top class you move on to class 1 (first grade.) Nursery school is an important step for these children to prepare for primary school. Unfortunately not all students can afford to pay, or have trouble paying all the fee or paying on time. Without fully paying the fees the student cannot take the final exam and move on to the next grade.
We committed to pay the school fees of two of these children a couple of weeks ago. Part of our mission of bringing hopeful futures to children here in Kenya is helping them to get access to education. Paying fees, lunch fees, uniforms, and even sometimes paying for school trips is part of how we are keeping kids in school and in reach of a hopeful future. I would like to pay for more students in this school to help them be better prepared for class one.
Since I know the owner of this particular school well, I know the funds are needed and will be used to improve the school. Thus improving the education of these little ones just starting out on their educational path.
There are seven students we have identified that need help for this term. I have already paid one school fee at 5,500 KES, which is about $54 U.S. dollars. If we can raise another $324 for the other six fees this will go a long way to helping the school, and the students.
I am not committing to sponsoring these students for the rest of their school career, just would like to give them a boost for this final term of the year. In fact some of them will graduate from top class and move on to first grade next January.
We would appreciate any help you could give towards this project. Just follow this link for information on how to donate, and make sure to include a note that it is for the nursery school fees.