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.
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
GCSC group study center
Studying at GCSC
Apr 19, 2019
Waking up Camp Forest in Maine Spring
By Catherine Sanders - Assistant Director
Adam newly recertified in Wilderness First Aid
It is April already. The snow has melted, Maple syrup season is ending and the trees are starting to bud. Adam Stone, our Maine Guide and Lead Counselor, is back in town from Peru and busy waking up the campgrounds and getting recertified. Mark, counselor, is also busy, brushing up on his wilderness skills and exploring fun corners of the Maine woods for diverse species of wild edibles and fire-starting fungi.
In the coming weeks, we will be receiving requests from low income campers for discounts on their camp admission. We'd like to take this opportunity to thank you for your past support - we subsidized part or all of over 30 camperships last year!
Please consider renewing your support for Camp Forest's 2019 campers so we can provide wilderness training, fun, and newfound confidence to childrren badly in need of affordable outdoor fun.
We also hope you, too, are considering Camp Forest for your outdoor retreat this year. Remember, all children and adults are welcome!
See you in the great outdoors, we hope!
Mark in Camp Forest's common area
Fungi Art from one of our campers
Feb 11, 2019
Report: Excerpts from our 2018 annual report
By Catherine Sanders - Project Leader
*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”