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Feb 11, 2019

Report: Excerpts from our 2018 annual report

*2018 JWHS children's home*
As we finished 2018, seven children lived at JWHS with a full-time social
worker, Bev, and with Chege (JWHS Manager) commuting from his home just
down the road. Unfortunately, Isaac ran away as of November. We are still
searching for him.
Currently in partnership with the Government of Kenya’s push for
reintegration of children in their home communities, Expanding
Opportunities is looking for more systematic ways to provide community
support so that Kenyans are empowered to care for and educate their most
vulnerable children.
Chege and Catherine recently attended a training on reintegration and
gained the tools we will need to push for family unity in 2019.
[image: image.png]

*Children updates*
Oti graduated Form 4 in 2017 and was accepted into Chuka University in
2018, where he studies economics. He is the 4th college attending graduate
of JWHS! He is being helped in his schooling by some very generous donors
at Trinity Episcopal Church in Lenox, Massachusetts.
Samwel had a big year. He took his exams for entrance into secondary
school. Though he got lower marks than he wished, he is eager to attend
high school in 2019.
Imam, like Samwel, will also be attending secondary school next year, and
he attended his circumcision ceremony and subsequent seclusion. He came to
us at age 6 and is now 15. ExOp continues to reevaluate the potential for
permanent reintegration on the basis of Imam’s safety, health, and
happiness.
Stephanie came to us in 2013. She is now a 15-year-old girl on her way to
womanhood. She took her qualifying exams for secondary school and will
attend Form 1 in 2019. We hope to be able to search for family members in
order to reintegrate Stephanie with her roots during 2019.
Mike has been with JWHS since 2007. He completed Form 1 this year but his
marks did not meet the expectations we set for him continuing in secondary
school. We searched for vocational training for him, but could not find
affordable, feasible training, so in 2019 he decided to return to his
grandmother’s house to attempt secondary school again. We are currently
trying out Michael’s reintegration with other members of his family in a
temporary way.
This October, we traced Gerrison’s steps home from his school in Nairobi
and found his older brother! They had a joyous reunion, and we are
following Gerrison’s reintegration with his brother’s family in 2019.
We went looking for Daisy and Kiptoo’s mother in October but our lead was a
false one, and we wish to track their grandparents in Kericho in 2019. Daisy
is partially supported and Kiptoo is unsupported by sponsors.

In the community
[image: image.png]
Because of ExOp support, 16 community students bought the supplies they
needed (including uniforms, books, writing utensils, and fees) to attend
school successfully in 2018. Community students are selected by Bev and
Chege on the basis of parental poverty indicators like debilitating
illness, single motherhood, and other referrals and unfortunate life
circumstances.
Also in 2018, four of our community students graduated from secondary
school, and one graduated from primary school. Way to go, kids!
10 children require our support as of January of 2019. First term dues
total $1360 including JWHS school fees.
As our attention shifts to community empowerment, we will be following our
children in the community more closely, counseling families, and
strategically supporting in-home care among both JWHS graduates and
underserved community members. All of these efforts will take resources in
the form of transport and human resources. Expect to see this section of
the report expanding in future years!

The Gordon Clem Study Center

The GCSC is located in the common area at JWHS. It is named after the
former headmaster at Saint Thomas Choir School in New York – Gordon Clem
had a heart for service and always wished to do work like that of ExOp in
Sub-Saharan Africa. His students and friends at Trinity Episcopal Church in
Lenox, Massachusetts have helped inspire the study center at JWHS, where a
library and study area are available to the public for free.
We envision this space in the future as a thriving center of formal,
informal, and cross-cultural learning in a rural place where these
opportunities are not readily available. We hope that one day it will
support itself through paid workshops, a café, and other services.
For the time being, the center is crowded with children after school lets
out. To be a better resource for these children, the center needs better
security, more books and media, a salaried overseer, and advertising.
The Gordon Clem Academy in Isiolo, GCSC’s predecessor, was turned over to
local management last year, and it is still in the process of securing
teachers.
[image: image.png]
Students and teachers from a GCSC 2018 summer arts camp, “Splash in the
Arts”

Link to our wish list for ways to support:

*https://bit.ly/2QraURN <https://bit.ly/2QraURN>*
Jan 22, 2019

Winter at Camp Forest 2019

Camp Forest asleep
Camp Forest asleep

Dear supporters,

Camp Forest is bedded down for the winter, but we are excited about our 2019 camp season! Your support provides low-income and underserved children incredible, woodsy experiences. If you know of campers age 7-18 who would love a chance to learn about cross-cultural wilderness living skills, please share with them our 2019 schedule (below). Also, if you are an adult and want to join us for Training Week, you'll get a primer on primitive skills yourself, and a taste for what Camp Forest has to offer!

Camp Forest sessions are weekly. Campers may attend as many weeks as desired. Our program is a mix of individual and group work so campers can attend any week to advance their knowledge, skills, and experience towards their next badge level.

June 24 - 28 | TRAINING WEEK

Join with Camp Forest Staff and learn about teaching and mentoring children in and about the Natural World. Learn about the deeper levels of Nature Therapy used at Camp Forest. Learn about Coyote Teaching, direct experience, safe space, mentoring, free form scheduling and finding one’s inner passion for learning. Adam Stone, with over 10 years of experience working in this field, will help you develop the skills needed to work in a wilderness camp.

July 1 - 5 | WATERSHED EXPEDITION and DAY CAMP

Join with Camp Forest in this unique combination of Day Camp and Expedition for youths and adults. A camper, youth, adult, or family can spend the week on the river or choose some days in which you only attend Day Camp on the river. Learn about the local watershed by hiking, canoeing, navigating, tracking, studying ecology, learning survival skills, and working on the badges of Camp Forest and Maine Woodsman. Open to Families, adults, and youth ages 7-17.

July 8 - 12 | FOREST BASICS WEEK | JUNIOR MAINE WOODSMAN

Introduce yourself to nature and the forest. Learn basic plant identification, build a shelter, identify animal tracks, learn to navigate in the woods, make fire and gather around it to play nature games and sing songs. Gain understanding of nature and respect for all life while working on the first badge level, the Osprey Badge. Campers who have already received the Osprey Badge or who want to work on their Junior Maine Woodsman badge can further develop their skills to advance to the next level. Open to youth ages 7-17.

July 15 - 19 | MAINE WOODSMAN WEEK

Camp Forest participates with the State of Maine’s Junior Maine Guide Program. Start by learning skills for the Maine Woodsman Badge and advance to Junior Maine Guide level. Campers experience a week in the woods learning the basics of outdoor living: building their own shelters, cooking outdoors to sustain themselves, developing mapping skills, treating advanced first aid issues (fainting, stomach aches, sprains), developing an awareness and appreciation of the outdoors, and perfecting their water-based skills: canoe paddling, fishing, fish identification, and more. Once Campers have developed sufficient skills, those ages 14 – 18 can take test for their Junior Maine Guide from the State of Maine during Maine Guide Testing Week. For information on the Junior Maine Guide program, visit https://juniormaineguides.org/. There is a required sleepover for this week. Open to youth ages 7-17.

July 22 - 26 | JUNIOR MAINE GUIDE TESTING WEEK (Alt - Animal Week)

This week is a special week for testing to obtain the Junior Maine Guide title given by the State of Maine. It is a state-wide week-long test where campers from across the sate gather at Stephen Phillips Preserve in Rangely, Maine for a week of rigorous testing. Campers will be accompanied to the testing site by Maine Guide, Adam Stone. Campers must be ages 14 – 18 to test. Not a DAY CAMP WEEK.

Please Note: *Minimum of 6 registrations required for testing week. If minimum is not met, Camp Forest will run a regular week of Animal Week Day Camp.

July 29 - August 2 | ANIMAL WEEK

So many animals live all around us here in Maine, but we hardly ever see them! Spend a week getting close to our animal neighbors in every way. Learn to walk like a fox, see like an owl, hear like a deer. Starting out with painting our faces like our favorite local animals, we’ll go on to track and find sign of all the animals in our woods, make crafts from animal bones and furs, learn bird calls and frog sounds, and even get to see all kinds of animal skulls, pelts, track casts, and photos. Every day, we’ll play sneaking games so that we can get closer to the animals, walk like the animals walk, and learn where to sit and hide to watch them. By the end of the week, you’ll know what kind of animals live around you, where to go look for them, and what kinds of tracks and signs they leave behind. You may feel like you’re a fox or a rabbit yourself by Friday! Join us for an animal adventure and go home ready for the next level – biology, hunting, photography, or just seeing lots of animals! Open to youth ages 7-17.

August 4 - 11 | HILLS TO SEA EXPEDITION AND DAY CAMP

For adults and youths, this is a special overnight expedition and day camp combination. The Trail is 47 miles long and passes through private property. Camp Forest has been given permission to conduct this expedition under the guidance of Maine Guide Adam Stone. We will traverse 10 or fewer miles per day to make it possible for young children to participate. Any member of the public is invited to participate provided they are able to navigate the trail. Camp Forest will provide drop off and pick up spots if you want to participate on a daily basis rather than sleepover each night. The expedition begins Sunday afternoon in Unity, Maine and ends the following Sunday afternoon in Belfast, Maine. Families are welcome! Open to youth ages 7-17.

August 12 - 16 | EAGLE AND BEAVER SKILLS WEEK

Camp Forest’s unique badge system challenges campers to a high level of skill and accomplishment. Eagle and Beaver Week is a week for digging deep into the part of your badge journey that inspires you! During this self-directed week, you’ll have lots of access to one-on-one and peer mentoring to make progress towards your next badge level. Learn survival, shelter, navigation, carving, basket-making, natural arts, tracking, plant identification, cooking fires, ecology and community skills. Make baskets, ropes, tools, leather bags, and gear off the landscape. Mixed in with the usual games, swimming, songs, and skills, you’ll help each other finish those primitive projects that take more skill and focus. Navigation, map and compass, and emergency medical skills required for the Maine Woodsman Badge will also be included. Osprey Badge skills or equivalent is required. Skills for the Eagle, Beaver and Maine Woodsman Badges will be learned. Required two night sleepover Wednesday and Thursday night. Open to youth ages 7-17.

August 19 - 23 | HARVEST WEEK and DINNER

Nearing Fall and the time of harvest, we will be in natural abundance. Harvest blueberries, apples, hazelnuts, and fish. Learn forest harvest skills, play games and prepare for the community harvest meal. Families welcome. Open to youth ages 7-17.

August 23 | HARVEST DINNER

A Harvest Dinner will be enjoyed at Camp Forest from 4:30pm to 7 pm. All community members are welcome to attend. A Free Will donation jar will be available with proceeds applied to the campership fund of Camp Forest. Please bring a fresh harvest dish. REGISTER NOW!

Register yourself or your child below today!

Links:

Nov 14, 2018

Qtr 4 JWHS: The search for lost family

Daisy and Kiptoo at JWHS
Daisy and Kiptoo at JWHS

In Kenya at JWHS (the ExOp orphanage), our last few months have been dominated by the search for lost family members. Since we regard the family environment as, generally, the ideal place - albeit sometimes needing support - to raise children, we act on every viable tip we get that helps us reunite the orphans at JWHS with positive kin influences in their lives. If successful, we search for the best possible outcomes for the child in question depending on in-depth analysis of the resources and mindset of the located family members.

With regard to three of the children, Garrison, Daisy, and Kiptoo, we received promising tips about mother, brother, uncle, and sister sightings. News about Daisy and Kiptoo (the brother and sister pair who came to live with us just a few months ago) came first.

Daisy and Kiptoo's mom had disappeared for several months before a neighbor realized the children, no older than 8, had been fending for themselves for several months, living off butcher scraps and whatever else they could find to eat. When Daisy got sick, Kiptoo was forced to reveal their situation, and child services brought them to our place at JWHS. 

As Bev, ExOp's Director, writes, "They had some difficulty adjusting. Neither of them had ever been to school so they entered nursery. They are quite bright and performed very well. Now they have settled in and daily hugs are in order. One day as Daisy was working so hard at communicating, she talked about her mother, and sister, and aunt. She mentioned her dad’s death and some of the difficulties in her home. She talked about having no food and no one coming to see them and care for them.  And she described her mother.

"About three weeks later we got a tip that her mother was in a town about 1.5 hours away. The person who gave the tip showed us the house but the woman was not there.  Trooping around the town for an hour or more finally brought another tip. The woman who was escorted out of the bar to the car was very tipsy.  As she approached the car the children said, "this is not our mother." The woman still claimed to be their mother but we did not believe her. She did not even know their names.

"We are glad we followed this lead.  Maybe the next lead will be the right one."

With Garrison's search, we were luckier. Chege, JWHS Manager, tells his story:

"When Garrison came to us the story was that his sister lost him when they traveled to Nakuru to visit his grandmother. He was found by police on the streets and was brought to us. [Later] Garrison told me the school he was in in Nairobi. I took him to that school and asked him if he would know his home from the school gate. He tried though the place had changed because of new buildings. Finally we got there and found his elder brother who was soo happy because he had been coming to Nakuru to look for Garrison on the street without success. It came out that after his mom died Garrison suffered mistreatment from the woman his father remarried. He decided enough is enough and ran away from home. His brother has promised to come to Nakuru - He is raising Garisson's younger sister and would love that they grow up together."

Beverly adds, "[This is] why we try so hard... Many times we fail but occasionally... Garrison has an older brother. This man, suffering that nightmare we hope to never have - a missing loved one - had been searching for Garrison. He has spent all his money searching. He had slept hungry on the streets searching. Joyous reunion... now we have family to help decide the best for Garrison."

Many conversations and visits will occur before we decide what is best for Garrison, but meanwhile, he has his family back. The resources we mobilize in search of and support for connecting families with abandoned or otherwise orphaned children like Daisy, Kiptoo, and Garrison are not part of the basic needs we request in support of JWHS children's day-to-day. If you would like to help JWHS children search for and connect with lost family members, please consider a special donation this season.

Garrison, after reuniting with his older brother
Garrison, after reuniting with his older brother

Links:

 
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