Friday, September 30, 2011

What a Week!

John hard at work in the renovations
of the new Iftin classroom

All this week, Erica and the Fallingbrook Heights volunteers have been busy in Eastleigh with Laura, Nelius, Farhiya, Patrick and the Iftin ladies. Here are a few glimpses into the week:

Nelius and Farhiya moving the Iftin literacy classes
outdoors as the entire Eastleigh Community Centre
undergoes a much needed facelift!

The new Iftin Unity Garden
is taking shape!

Nelius helping one of the Iftin girls water some of the sack gardens infront of the new classroom. Already eight teams of refugee women have entered the urban gardening contest and are growing vegetables in sack gardens throughout Eastleigh. We are so excited to see the ladies are putting their gardening training into practice both in the community centre and in their own homes. We pray for great success!

Lila helping to lay out the hundreds of new Kenyan readers and story books for the Eastleigh Community Centre library.

Yesterday morning, they presented a mountain of new books and sports equipment to the staff and students of the primary school. It was an emotional day as the little library rarely receives new books, especially African readers. All of the books provided by Fallingbrook Heights were purchased in Kenya and are a part of the official Kenyan curriculum. A huge thanks to the generosity of the Fallingbrook Heights Baptist Church who raised the funds for the library. (On behalf of the team, we also want to thank the Nairobi Textbook Centre for their discount -- it is amazing how many books they were able to bring into the school!)

Erica and Don in the new workspace for Noor Creations.

The Renovations were completed late yesterday afternoon, thanks to the dedication of the team. On behalf of the members of Iftin and Noor, we want to share a BIG THANK YOU! The transformation is incredible!!!!

The team is off for a weekend break, but they will return to the community centre on Monday to lead two days of professional development workshops with the entire staff.

On a personal note, we are excited to be celebrating Ava's 5th Birthday this Saturday. She left for pre-school this morning with a big box of mommy's cookies to celebrate with her class.

We hope you all have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Moonlight VCT

Moonlight VCT
in Embu

The ACC&S Guardians of Hope in Embu, are working in partnership with the Kenyan government to help their community know their HIV status. While the church has been promoting voluntary counselling and testing for several years, they have recently discovered a strategy for overcoming the fear and stigma attached to attending a counselling and testing centre -- hold them at night!

"We want people to know their status," shares ACC&S GOH project officer Patrick Maina. "Church members and the community have long associated HIV and AIDS with immorality, but we are helping the community understand that there are other avenues that people contract the disease. Knowing your status is key if we are to stop the spread. But more than this, we need people to access counselling and testing in time rather than waiting until they are so far gone."

Embu's next moonlight VCT visit will be on October 9th. They are anticipating 360 people over the night long event, to come and receive counselling and testing. Counselling is important, as people need to be prepared to hear their results and know what options they have. Please be praying for this vital ministry of the church as they follow Jesus' example of being available to their community, even in the dark of the night.

To learn more about the Guardians of Hope program check out the Canadian Baptist Ministries webpage at

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Eastleigh Makeover!

Pharis Nyaga introducing the Fallingbrook Heights team to the vocational training centre program at the Eastleigh Community Centre

Erica is leading the Fallingbrook Heights short term mission team in Eastleigh this week. Yesterday she brought them in for a quick tour and then they jumped in with both feet as the team began helping out with the literacy classes, and renovations to our work spaces. Don and John also began a series of workshops with the older students in the school, and Don and Joy went on a home visit in the community.

Joy Hepburn sharing some geography with the Iftin Women

The team teaching a class with Iftin:
they appreciated the openness of Nelius and Farhiya
who are sharing the morning classes with them this week.

Erica, Julie and Lila painting
the new Iftin literacy classroom

Along with the renovations to our new work spaces and offices, the entire community centre is getting a major makeover through the support of the European Union and other donors. Carpenters, tilers, painters and a host of volunteers are working throughout the centre. This Wednesday will be a huge clean up day with all of the students participating. The centre is a bee hive of activity!

John and Nick working on the renovations to the new Noor Creations' workshop

Erica was the first customer for the Peace Group SHG
who are using their savings to start
a scarf making micro enterprise

Erica introducing the Fallingbrook Heights
team to her favourite basket shop

Praying for Change

Children receiving vitamin supplements
at a CBM feeding project in
Northeastern Province, Kenya

In the past three months alone, approximately 30,000 children have died from malnutrition and preventable illness in the Horn of Africa. Canadian Baptist Ministries is partnering with the Sister's Maternity Hospital, in Garissa, to provide immunizations, medical services, and daily food and water to nine affected communities along the Tana River. This is an area where thousands of displaced people have come for help with small villages more than doubling in size from the influx.

Through the generous support of churches and individuals, we are working with partners in the local community to help vulnerable families survive. But more than survival, we are praying for change. The present relief efforts are only a first step, as Canadian Baptist Ministries works with communities eager to break a pattern that has held them in a feast and famine cycle for generations. Together with the local government, the Kenyan Red Cross and community elders, we are actively seeking sustainable change that will enable the communities we are serving to make better use of the waters of the Tana River to grow their own food and provide a rich economic benefit for the region.

Change is not easy. We all favour what we know over the unknown. Certainly, there will be a lot of learning, risk and failure on the journey ahead. But as we make this journey with local Kenyan churches and Muslim communities, we pray for deeper bonds of love, understanding and grace. God is a liberating God. Ultimately, we trust his Spirit at work in the lives of many to bring about healing, growth, and transformation!

Women and children lining up for water at a mobile clinic and feeding program of Canadian Baptist Ministries and the Sister's Maternity Hospital, near Garissa.

A Waliwana women participating in a small
women's farming cooperative near the
Tana River, in Northeastern Province.

Under the Acacia Tree
Erica and Diane Bannister speaking with Somali women
at a feeding clinic in Doloweyn,
Northeastern Province, Kenya

Children taking turns drinking from a large water container
at the Doloweyn feeding centre and clinic in NEP.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

CBM NEP Drought Response

A little boy in the CBM Ambulatory Feeding Project
in Bula, Northeastern Province, Kenya

Since July, Canadian Baptist Ministries has been responding to the impact of the drought and famine in the Horn of Africa, through targeted feeding projects and health care services in mobile clinics in Kenya's Northeastern Province. Through partnership with local community-based organizations and agencies, we are feeding 7000 people living in overlooked villages and informal settlements.

Presently, Erica and I are working with our CBM colleagues, Tim and Diane Bannister, Yattani Gollo, and William Wako, to implement the next phase of CBM's drought response as we seek to help vulnerable communities to become more food secure, and mobilize them for self help initiatives and improved public health.

Please pray for these ministries as we work side by side with communities desperate for change!

September 2011 - Family Fun


Tristan at the Brown's Cheese farm in Tigoni, Kenya

Last weekend, we had a delightful time with friends visiting the Brown's family cheese business outside of Nairobi. It was a fun Sunday visiting with new friends and learning about how cheese is made.

Mommy and Emma in the cheese aging room

The Brown's Cheese Company was started a generation ago, as the Brown family started making cheese for themselves and for gifts. Soon their friends were wanting to purchase it, and from a small attachment to the farm house, a booming business grew.

Daddy and Ava on the tour -- It's not easy being cheezy!

Guinea Fowl roaming around the farm house

Emma's first swim meet of fifth grade

Also this past week, Emma was back in the pool competing in freestyle and back stroke in the Rosslyn Academy Invitational Swim Meet.

Emma did fantastic placing in second and third in her two heats

Fallingbrook Heights Arrives!

Joy, Don, Lila, Nick, Julie, John, Aaron and Erica
photo taken by Emma Kenny

Early Friday morning, we had the pleasure of welcoming the Fallingbrook Heights team who just arrived from Ontario, Canada. We are thrilled to be working together with them in Eastleigh over the next two weeks.

We have shared the past two days in orientation as the team prepares to work with both the Eastleigh Community Centre's primary school and the Iftin ladies. It has been raining off and on since they came -- also a sign of blessing in Africa!

Please keep this team in your prayers. We know that the next two weeks will go by quickly.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Urban Gardening

Our friend and colleague, Andai Jackson, teaching
some of the Iftin ladies about

It has been an exciting week in Eastleigh, as Erica and the members of the Iftin Women's Empowerment Program begin a new chapter as both Noor and the literacy class move into new space. Erica also led the ladies in building a new urban garden for Iftin. Here is a glimpse of the work, but we will have pictures of the completed garden in a few weeks.

Patrick and Erica meeting with ladies of the
Noor Creations women's self help group
in their new work space within
the Eastleigh Community Centre

Erica helping Nelius and Farhiya move into their new
classroom for the Iftin literacy project

Aaron interviewing some of the Noor members
for fivekennys podcast

You can listen to our audio journal on iTunes or

Tomatoes in the vertical sack gardens

Nelius and Hawa ready to plant
seedlings in the new garden

Farhiya and some of the Iftin women using rocks
in the irrigation columns of the vertical bag gardens

Several of the school children joining the Iftin
group as they prepare their new urban garden

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

New Beginnings in Eastleigh

The new school term has just begun at the Eastleigh Community Centre, and with it lots of beautiful new faces!

Farhiya, Nelius, Patrick, Erica and Laura
in the new Noor Creations workshop

We are excited to be starting the fall in two new spaces for the Iftin literacy classes and the Noor Creations jewelry project. Not only are we expanding our space, but we now have offices and a garden area. This will be a busy month as the team pulls together with the Iftin ladies to make this new space home!

Tunis, Fardosa and Ayan making beads in Noor

Rachel, Sarah and Nicole meeting with
Erica and the Noor ladies.

Today, we also had the pleasure of connecting three fellow Canadians with Noor and the ministry of the Eastleigh Community Centre. Rachel is a professional jewelry artisan from Regina, and shared some time today teaching in Noor.

Jacinta, Sarah, Racheal and Nicole
with children in the ECC Preschool

CBM Drought Response

Malakote women weaving prayer matts along the Tana River,
in Northeastern Province (NEP), Kenya

Erica visiting with a group farming group of Somali and Malokote women who live in the community of BulaIftin, in Garissa District, NEP.

Aaron and Erica meeting with Malakote women and elders as part of our CBM Drought Response Assessment, this past week in NEP. Aaron is returning to the drought affected region this coming week with another assessment team, as CBM prepares for its next phase of ministry in NEP. It is encouraging to see these communities working together to grow food along the River -- a source of life in an arid land.

While listening to the stories of mothers struggling to feed their families and find clean drinking water, we heard again and again words of appreciate to God for the compassion and help of Canadians who have helped them and their children through this famine. Please continue to pray for these strong women who walk through this dry and barren place to provide for their children.

Diane Bannister greeting Somali children at one of the
ambulatory feeding centres in Sankuri, NEP

A Hornbill poking around the Bura
daily feeding project, looking for his breakfast!

On the road in Garissa