Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Public Speaking

Tristan and his small group getting ready for the fifth grade social studies presentation on the native people of North America.

On Tuesday morning, Miss Grime's classroom at Rosslyn Academy was a stir with proud parents, students and presenters as the fifth graders shared their research on the various first nations people of Canada and the United States. Tristan and his group did a fantastic job describing the cultures and way of life for many of Northwestern tribes people. As an artifact they made a cool little totem pole.
Tristan is enjoying his last year in elementary school at Rosslyn Academy(Next August he will be entering middle school). We are so thankful for the wonderful teachers and friends that God has brought into the lives of our children since we came to Kenya.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Long View

The Eastleigh Community Centre's Leadership Team and Board of Directors meeting this weekend in Kasarani.
The leadership at the Eastleigh Community Centre is working through a midterm review of the five year strategic plan for its sustainable community development programs. Along with identifying the gaps and new opportunities arising, it was a wonderful opportunity to deepen our connection with the centre's board of directors and our colleagues.

Please hold the ECC in your prayers as we seek God's direction and discernment for the next chapter of ministry in Eastleigh.

Poetry Recital

Emma and her classmates participated in a 3rd Grade Poetry Recital this week at Rosslyn Academy. Despite lots of butterflies, Emma and her friends did fantastic!

Emma recited the Shel Silverstein poem
"Falling Up"

Emma with her friends Mary and Maddy
celebrating after a great recital!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


When you wake up in the morning in Kenya, you just never know what to expect. Practically every day has some twist or turn that interrupts our best laid plans. Some surprises are wonderful, while others not so much! But today, out of the blue, there came one of those moments that just make you smile!

Erica and I had just finished a meeting with Zahra, and were walking together through the community centre when we passed through a crowd of young men. One of the fellas spotted Erica and began to dance his way toward her.

... That was a little surprising.

He then went on to sing to Erica "The Shining Girl". Not a few lines, but he rapped and belted out his serenade to Erica for all to hear. We almost fell over from the laughter.

Erica thanking her enthusiastic songster.
He was the highlight of our day!

New Colours

Erica holding a few beads glazed in a new speckled finish at the Eastleigh Jewelry Project -- Noor.

While the refugee women of Noor have been off these last two weeks for the final days of Ramadan and the celebration of the Muslim holiday Eid, our friend Patrick has been busy firing thousands of beads which the women had made and glazed, during the past two months.

Along with the local glazes, we are experimenting with test glazes purchased from the United Kingdom. The ladies are trying to broaden their palette of colours and designs. One of our favourites is "sea speckle blue". We can't wait to see what the new beads look like within Noor's new creations.

Erica and Patrick with some of the newly fired beads

In all, the ladies are working
with eleven new glazes

Friday, September 18, 2009

Children's Club

How do we use our hands?

On Thursday afternoon, the Refugee Children's Club met to sing together, play games, and discuss the importance of how we use our hands. Nelius, the head teacher from our Iftin English literacy program, came as the guest speaker to talk to the children about conflict resolution. Over the past month, their teacher has needed to address fighting amongst some of the students in the new refugee class. The 17 students span from ages 8 to 16 years old. None of them have attended school before and they speak very little English or KiSwahili.

Nelius had the children trace each other's hands, and then together think of ways that they use their hands to help one another and the ways their hands can be used to tear each other down. The whole group shared about the sources of conflict between them and discussed better ways of building peace rather than fighting. Please continue to pray for these children as they work together to build better patterns of living in community.

Children from the Thursday kids club.

Global Connections
Global Connections' leadership visiting
with Nelius at the Eastleigh Community Centre

Also this week, we were delighted to host a group from Global Connections, an organization that facilitates volunteers and short term groups to serve with various local service organizations in Kenya. They specifically work with groups that seek to help the orphaned, widowed, oppressed and the environment. The Eastleigh Community Centre's Women's Empowerment Initiative is exploring the opportunity to work in partnership with Global Connections as we continue to broaden our impact in serving the displaced Somali community within Eastleigh.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Go Green!

Emma chasing after the ball in
Rosslyn's Intramural Football Club
This fall Emma is playing in the after school football club at Rosslyn Academy. Every Monday she puts on her team colours to compete against the three other teams of third, fourth and fifth graders.

Emma taking her turn in goal.

The Green team is doing very well this year, in yesterday's match with the Reds (The team of Emma's buddy Mary), the game ended in a 4-4 tie with a nail biting final goal by the Reds in the last seconds of the game. Emma and her friends are having a great time -- as are the proud fans in the stands!

Emma and her team mate Keenan Carline
"Go Green!"

Henry and Reese

Emma and Ava trying to help our puppy
Reese to walk on her leash

Tristan having no problem with Henry,
who is raring to go!

They are growing up so fast!

Tristan and Emma have begun the challenge of training our puppies, Henry and Reese, who have just turned six months old on September 8th. They are growing up before our eyes, but Henry especially has had a super growth spurt as he's nearly twice the size of Reese. He is the natural walker of the two. Reese still needs a lot of coaxing along.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Bearing Fruit

It is exciting to see the six vertical gardens in Easteigh, that we planted with the refugee women of Iftin, are beginning to bear fruit. These tomatoes are among the first that will be harvested in the gardening initiative.

Aaron, Phares, Zahra, Rhoda and the first six community facilitators being training for the Self Help Group program.

Along with the gardens, we are seeing wonderful advances in the Women's Self Help Group program. Presently, eight Somali and Oromo women have come forward to serve as community facilitators. We met today to discuss the expectations around training and to formalize what the next few months will look like. After the celebration of Ramadan at the end of September, we will be hosting the women in our home for an intensive week of training over the first week of October. Together we are excited for what the future holds as we work as a team fighting "umasikini" (poverty). "We can do it!" encouraged Zahra to the girls. "It will take dedication, determination, discipline, and sacrifice. But we can do it!"

Waste Not!

Mr. Charles Oyando demonstrating how to create fire briquettes from waste materials.
The Community Centre hosted a Solid Waste Management workshop today for youth with our community. During the gathering, a representative of a local environment organization called the Mazingira Institute came to show the participants how they can turn ordinary solid waste materials into fire briquettes that can be solid for cooking fuel.
Commonly in Kenya, people burn charcoal in order to boil water and cook meals. Literally every home we have visited in Eastleigh is burning charcoal made from trees outside of Nairobi. The simple technology that we were introduced today combines waste saw dust, paper materials, and charcoal dust to make an efficient burning briquette. The process uses no electricity and has very little start up cost. A group of young men can easily form themselves into a business, collecting solid waste materials, mix, press and dry them into briquettes and sell them in the road side markets where people look for traditional charcoal.

One of the local youth providing a helping hand in operating the simple wooden press.

Reuben and Vincent are two of our colleagues from the Eastleigh Community Centre who organised the workshop.

Finished fire briquettes being left in the sun to bake.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Opening the Way to Peace

A barbed wire gateway leading to the football pitches of the Eastleigh Community Centre.

Over the past month, we have been working with the Eastleigh Community Centre to reach out to young Somali men living within Eastleigh. Among the common interests of Somali youth, football ranks very high. As a way of engaging and mobilizing Somali teens and young adults, we are working on a peace football tournament. We see the tournament as a way of building local participation, enhancing cohesion between conflicting groups and as way of engaging youth in discussions that will identify their priority needs for development. Already we have twenty teams interested in participating in the event. We are meeting with the leaders of these teams today to discuss the way forward as we involve representatives from each group as part of the planning and leadership of the event. This planning portion of the event is as important as the tournament itself, as it gives us a wonderful opportunity to work alongside young emerging leaders within the community.

Please keep this initiative in your prayers. There are many obstacles yet to overcome. We pray especially for our friend Reuben who has been an incredible help in reaching out to the young men in the community.

Also in pray: Please remember Erica and our colleague, A., as they travel each day this week, and next, to a crisis management conference in Karen.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Today was Ava's first day in preschool at Potterhouse School, near our home in Runda. She was very excited to get out the door this morning with her backpack on ready to meet her classmates and teacher.

Ava walking to her "peach class" with a new friend

Ava with her teacher Mrs. Dianah

Ava checking out her classroom: After she found her desk and a pink chair she was very interested in the toys. We over heard her calling her big sister, Emma, on the play phone. We know that she is going to love going to school!