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Aug 12, 2019

Busy Days at JWHS and GCSC

Jacinta and Vivian
Jacinta and Vivian

Busy days at JWHS: We are at our desired capacity of eight children in residence. Our capacity for children living with extended family is limited only by the number of sponsors. 

We have had a few temporary children. They are placed with us for their protection until their day in court when the judge decides a permanent arrangement.  It is amazing how quickly our hearts attach. It is hard not be able to follow up. But the court works to make the best decision for the child. 

For several years we had only boys then added a few girls. Now we have 5 girls and three boys.  Lot's more giggling. 

Jacinta and Vivian are our newest girls.  Jacinta in the headband and Vivian with the hoodie. Vivian had run to the police when she learned that the Aunt/Grandmother they were living with was planning to have them circumcised.  FGM is outlawed in Kenya but is still a strong cultural practice. Both of the girls have difficult backgrounds and landed in the same relative’s home.

Jacinta is in Class 6 and Vivian is in Class 8.  They are both quiet girls. It is a pleasure to have them. They had been very withdrawn when they first arrived and kept their hearts guarded.  It was a delight on Sunday.  When ready to leave for church the 4 newest girls walked up to me and each in turn gave me a big hug. A huge barrier was removed, a trust given I pray to never break. 

As reintegration to relatives is our goal, we have been working to fill in the blanks in these girls’ stories so we can plan the best for their future.  Until then they are helpful at home, studying hard at school and filling us all with a wonderful new dimension of a majority of girls. They give us such joy and purpose.  

The Gordon Clem Study Center is nearing completion.  Movies are shown each Sunday afternoon and the small library is accessed three times per week and now that school is out, children can come make use of the resources.  Our goal to offer free organized tutoring to the community children is on hold as the law in Kenya forbids holiday tutoring. We trust that this mandate will be amended to allow FREE voluntary tutoring.  

In addition to growing season and a large garden, we have been working to finish the perimeter fence. After tomorrow we will have completed 4 sides of this one acre and on to the last side!. I will no longer see the neighbor's maize from my window (sad) but soon it will be so hard for anyone to come in that side (glad). It was one of the two most porous sides. 

The need for this expense and labor is justified often. Even while working on the fence, posts and slabs were stolen. There, so far, has been no physical assaults but certainly thefts and unwelcome visitors.  

In praise of our manager, Chege, and the children I would like to mention that this is not an easy task. First the posts are lifted onto the roof of the G Wagon, then unloaded by Chege assisted by the children.  The post holes are dug with a machete and a piece of metal by Chege and the children. The rails are hoisted to the roof of the wagon and unloaded by Chege and the children. Nailed to the posts by Chege and the children. Then the off cuts, (the sides of the trees when cut into timbers,called slabs in US), are loaded onto the roof and unloaded by Chege and the children near my mud house so I can listen for a thief  in the night. Then the trusty chair is brought out to the driveway and each board is cut with an 18 inch crosscut hand saw. Then nailed to the rails by Chege and the children. In short... Lots of muscle work and time by Chege and the children. The only powered tool is the G wagon. 


Thanks Donors and Thanks kids and Thanks Chege.


Third side of the fence.
Third side of the fence.
Dance Class
Dance Class

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Jul 12, 2019

Help low income campers attend camp this summer!

Successful one-match fire in progress!
Successful one-match fire in progress!

Dear ecology champions, defenders of vulnerable kids, supporters, and nature lovers!

Camp Forest is in full swing. We are submerged in our canoeing, one-match fire-building, swim safety, animal track identification, eating wild edibles, and using knives safely and competently. In short, we are learning a ton and loving every minute of it!

Thank you for taking this journey with us! Because of you, we are able to provide low income kids affordable and meaningful woods experiences. Yet there is still unmet need: we are only able to fund about 50% of our campership applicants this year due to the mission shift of one of the grant we relied on for camperships. We strive for every child who needs it, whether because of financial constraints or guardians' time constraints, to be able to access healthy relationships and natural experiences.

To that end, please consider providing partial or full day camp camperships ($225) or overnight camperships ($500) to provide healthy and confidence-building camp fun to deserving children.

We also have several camp openings remaining for the 2019 season. Check out our schedule to sign up for a week with Camp Forest. We have camp experiences for both children and adults, so feel free to share our report with those who may be looking for such opportunities!

Thank you again for all you do to help us treasure the beauty surrounding us and share it with others.

 

Sincerely,

Catherine and the Camp Forest Team

Salamander harbored by an Oak tree
Salamander harbored by an Oak tree
Learning tool use at Camp Forest
Learning tool use at Camp Forest

Links:

May 13, 2019

Family searches, rains, and community study

Family search
Family search

JWHS

A new girl was brought to us at our home (JWHS) in April. A neighbor cared for the child and alerted the officials. There had been severe neglect and the mother is now serving time in jail for it. The children have all adjusted well and the new girl is assisting one of our other little girls who is having some very difficult adjustment issues. Living at the Home as of this date are three girls and three boys. Outside of the home but being educated with our assistance are ten additional children ranging from college to lower primary.

 

The rains delayed two months past the traditional start of rainy season – the fear of famine loomed over the village. Finally in May the rains began and the rush to plant filled the homesteads with activity. We also got our hands dirty and spirits lifted. At this time the potatoes, and maize and beans are popping their heads up promising at least a small harvest.

 

After settling all our children in school for 2019, the search for families continued. A day long adventure into the village of two of our children brought unexpected (and expensive) adventure and a firm lead for locating the grandmother. Family searches are important. Each child knows they have relatives and as long as they remain disconnected, they feel acute pain. Occasionally the rejection is unwarranted as the extended family has been searching for the child. Unfortunately often the family has avoided the child due to the fear of monetary burden. Regardless of the reason, the child has a need to know. We work with families to help reduce the real or perceived barriers to connection, as well. Family reintegration is often a wonderful occasion. Other times the child would not be safe in that environment, so we try our best to maintain some sort of remote relationship.

 

GCSC

Last year a donor assisted us to complete an addition that was started in 2003. It is now functioning as the Gordon Clem Study Center (GCSC). The study Center houses a small library, and large study/group space. Three days per week is for Open Study, and Sunday afternoon brings a movie matinee. During the day adults and college students may use the center for enrichment activities or private study, and Saturday morning will soon offer an enrichment activity for children.

Fields awaiting late rains
Fields awaiting late rains
GCSC group study center
GCSC group study center
Studying at GCSC
Studying at GCSC
 
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