Caring for Both Vulnerable Girls and Boys of Kenya

by Expanding Opportunities
Caring for Both Vulnerable Girls and Boys of Kenya
Caring for Both Vulnerable Girls and Boys of Kenya
Caring for Both Vulnerable Girls and Boys of Kenya
Caring for Both Vulnerable Girls and Boys of Kenya
Caring for Both Vulnerable Girls and Boys of Kenya
Caring for Both Vulnerable Girls and Boys of Kenya
Caring for Both Vulnerable Girls and Boys of Kenya
Caring for Both Vulnerable Girls and Boys of Kenya
Caring for Both Vulnerable Girls and Boys of Kenya
Caring for Both Vulnerable Girls and Boys of Kenya
Caring for Both Vulnerable Girls and Boys of Kenya
Caring for Both Vulnerable Girls and Boys of Kenya
Caring for Both Vulnerable Girls and Boys of Kenya
Caring for Both Vulnerable Girls and Boys of Kenya
Caring for Both Vulnerable Girls and Boys of Kenya
Caring for Both Vulnerable Girls and Boys of Kenya
Caring for Both Vulnerable Girls and Boys of Kenya
Caring for Both Vulnerable Girls and Boys of Kenya
Having more girls than boys shifts the power
Having more girls than boys shifts the power

Ever since we shifted our focus more towards reintegrating families in 2019 (away from providing permanent institutional housing), we have deepened our connections with the households and communities surrounding us that are most in need. We see this as the culmination of our work, even though COVID has kept our progress minute. We are working towards permanent solutions among all 10 children.

Here are some of the triumphs that you have helped us make in the past few months:

  • We found an older brother to 2 siblings who were left by their mother. The mother was in prostitution and running from the police. We plan to reunite them this month.
  • Provided menstrual hygiene products to one of our children who was reintegrated last year, so she can continue going to school regularly.
  • Found and collected birth certificates for two of our early marriage escapees.
  • Arranged for a visit by the father of one of our abandoned children.
  • Are in talks with relatives of 4 siblings at JWHS, who we think are promising reintegration parners.
  • Sent nearly all of our JWHS and community students back to school in January after the COVID hiatus.

All of these small triumphs come after months of searching and groundwork spearheaded by our Manager, Chege, who dedicates his life to these pursuits. Over the past year, he has taken steps to take on more leadership at JWHS and we hope for the opportunitiy to reward him accordingly.

For your part, you have helped by:

  • Sending money
  • Arranging us to present at your community meetings about our work
  • Sending prayers and kindness our way
  • Offering labor on our board or in our shop
  • Coming to JWHS to visit and building connections with our Kenyan community

Without ALL of these pieces, we could not do what we do in our corner of the world. From our depths, we thank you, and we ask that you keep us in your hearts and minds in the coming months.

 

With gratitude,

The ExOp Team

Before school waiting for the crew
Before school waiting for the crew
Just the 10 of us
Just the 10 of us

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Karanja is our newest board member
Karanja is our newest board member

Wow, it's been an exciting couple of months at JWHS. 

On the US side, it may not surprise you that we are 100% in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, and we are turning our attention to our own operations, decision-making processes, and board makeup in an effort to 'decolonize' our organization. As part of this process, please join us in enthusiastically welcoming Joseph Karanja, P.A. in Michigan and former beneficiary of Expanding Opportunities, to the U.S. Board! We look forward to more board changes in the near future, so stay tuned.

We are also offering our website (ainamoja.com) as a platform to US-based black, African American, and indigenous artisans who would like to showcase their art on our site. So far, we are so pleased to offer Phaedra's (a former Maine resident) beautiful copper and silver jewelry on the site. If you know of other artists who you think we should be collaborating with, please let us know! Follow Phaedra on Instagram @thephorgerymetalwerkx or @pchigirl and shop at ainamoja.com and https://www.etsy.com/shop/Phorgerymetalwerkx.

During COVID19, we are fully educating most of our children at home in Kenya. To help make our curriculum stronger, we have partnered with the organization Ending Needs, who has provided us reading and educational materials. They connect our children to pen pals across the world and they are helping improve our English instruction. Also, we think Ending Needs is a great fit for Expanding Opportunities, based on the name alone!

In efforts to work with a new Child Services case manager, we have also done a lot of repairs and maintenance on our property in Kenya. We have replaced old mattresses, tiles in the bathroom, and gutters that were leaking our rain water. We are also working to upgrade our solar electrical system. It has been expensive, but worth it, and the place looks great!

Our newest child, let's call her "Tess" to protect her privacy, is still undergoing court cases, political turmoil, and counseling for trauma as she bravely seeks to testify against her abuser. She could use all the prayers and positive thoughts at your disposal as she recovers from childhood trauma no one should have to endure. Thank you to those of you who supported her financially and socially on Facebook in the last few months! Though her ordeal is far from over, your generosity enabled a supportive environment for her to adjust to her new life. She is beginning to trust Chege, Sarah, and Alice, and is fitting in with the other girls her age at JWHS. 

Beverly is on her way to the United States for a couple months to visit family. She will be in Florida and, we hope, Maine, so if you are there, please reach out to her while she is in town!

Meanwhile, Kenya is preparing to send children back to school. We don't know when the call will come, but when it does, we will have to provide school fees and uniforms for the 20 children we currently support in schooling. Please keep us in your thoughts, prayers, and pocketbooks as we adjust to the "new normal" in Kenya and within the organization, and thanks so much for keeping us in your hearts during these crazy times. We need you now more than ever!

With love and gratitude,

The ExOp Team

One of Phaedra's beautiful copper pendants
One of Phaedra's beautiful copper pendants
JWHS's little school
JWHS's little school

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Coronavirus classroom
Coronavirus classroom

First of all, I want to thank all you generous souls who have reached out to find out how we are, have checked in, donated, or shared your stories. We feel incredibly lucky to have you on our side during these crazy times.

The locusts are devouring crops and we have been on lockdown at JWHS since March, but the good news is that the government has relaxed its restrictions on who can be an educator during this time, so Bev and Chege and Alice have been working hard to become teachers as well as caretakers and managers. The children have resumed their studies in full. 

While family searches are necessarily on hold as a result of the lockdown, we have been attending in new ways to our residents' past trauma. Once a week, a counselor comes to do group work with the kids, helps provide them the tools they need to face their pasts, and also provides us the tools to better serve their needs. We are also able to check in with our recently reintegrated children via phone.

Another program innovation we have implemented during coronavirus, we have instituted a more rigorous process for designing and tailoring our programs to child needs. We created child development teams that meet on a monthly basis to talk over each child's skills, aptitudes, needs, and future prospects. These conversations allow us to make sure we are attending meaningfully to the growth and development of JWHS children.

The virus has put a lot of pressure on our staff and food resources, so we again thank those of you have contributed even while you are dealing with your own traumas, challenges, and grief. We are touched beyond words, and we humbly ask for your continued support as we look for sponsorship for about half of our 10 residents. Please consider sharing our need with those you know who may be touched by our programming and our message.

Meanwhile, be well, stay safe, and hold our gratitude in your hearts!

Buds
Buds

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2019 JWHS crew
2019 JWHS crew

We have had a busy end to 2019 and a really exciting start to 2020! Thank you all for your support as we transition children to their own communities and bring more children under our care.

As of February, 2020, three of our JWHS confederates (the top 3 in the group picture) have transitioned into the community. Stephanie is living happily with an aunt in Njoro, Samuel with a grandmother in Molo, and Imam, nearly a man, is living nearby JWHS and helping us out with shamba work (gardening). We remain with 10 children after the arrival of 4 small ones at the tail-end of 2019. We are also supportung 10 children in their education in the community.

We achieved another major milestone with our longtime donors' support when we finished the fence this year! No more unwanted visitors and stolen goods. Hello, security!

Unseasonable rains also mean our grounds are flourishing with peppers, eggplants, spinach, and herbs. I officially came on as organizational director and the Kenyan board met in Nairobi in January to discuss reintegration and income generation. We heartily welcomed Chege, Sammy, and Johnny onto the team!

For upcoming priorities, we are serious about our outreach to the community and healing our kids' trauma with access to social, psychological, and emotional resources in addition to basic needs. Please help us access quality care for our remaining 10 children today by providing money for counseling ($150/month), for home visits (varies, but ~$50 per visit), and for basic needs ($100 per child).

The fence was completed in January!
The fence was completed in January!
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Fenceball at JWHS
Fenceball at JWHS

Jacinta,Vivian, Nyeri, Daisy, Stephanie, Kiptoo, Sam, and Imam... they are beginning to heal from past traumas and the pain of new social lessons, and they are learning how to play together. The playground outside the Gordon Clem Study Center serves as basketball, football (soccer), tag, and "fenceball" arena, so when chores are done and homework is complete, each child can join in. The first three girls listed and Daisy's brother, Kiptoo, still need sponsors, so if you want to make a huge impact on someone's life, consider a one-time or recurring donation.

We reached a milestone in the life of our crisis center last month, when two of our JWHS "graduates", Johnny and Sammy, now employed college graduates, accepted our offer to join the organization's board. We couldn't be more thrilled with their addition or that of our stellar JWHS manager, Chege, who all bring unique and experiential vision to the Kenyan side of things.

We also had contact with Daisy and Kiptoo's extended family, who was thrilled to know that they are safe, and who may soon be willing, with enough community support, to take on some of the care responsibilities for those children. This is some of the most difficult and rewarding work we do - uniting children with long lost family. It takes numerous, unsuccessful trips before healthy relationships grow and the barriers to reintegration come tumbling down. Next month, we will begin this process for our two most recent additions, Jacinta and Vivian.

The Gordon Clem Study Center received a facelift through the immense effort of our Director, Bev, who painted floors, signs, and ceilings to have the place warmly inviting community kids who need a place to study, and for play time with ours and neighboring children.

Thank you all so much for being part of this journey. Please stay tuned for more in the saga of education and family-building, and consider your much-needed and tremendously impacting contribution today!

With love and gratitude,

Tea and socializing
Tea and socializing
The new signage for our wonderful study center
The new signage for our wonderful study center

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Organization Information

Expanding Opportunities

Location: Brooks, ME - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @EXOPP
Project Leader:
Beverly Stone
Brooks, ME United States
$851 raised of $30,000 goal
 
17 donations
$29,149 to go
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