Our Last Day….For This Year

Today was heads and hands down finishing the third room. A few final touches and we will be done.

Miss Mary finished up the curtains for the rooms and the unending pile of repairs. The sewing machine we bought is going to stay here and will be used by Mama Jacinta. Miss Mary was able to spend time with Mama teaching her how to use it to be able to continue repairs.

Tonight was our last night with the children and spent a lot of silly time together. Sunglasses, bubble gum, and just spending time together was just what was needed by all

The time seems to move slowly while we are here and then it is over and we wonder where the time went.

Yes, and even an outdoor movie

George and Wesley had a great idea for a final treat for the children. Watching Avatar outside. life is about creating memories and this in one we will not forget.

Tomorrow is packing and cleaning and the beginning of our long journey home. We leave for Kisumu in the afternoon. Catch a 7pm flight to Nairobi and then a midnight flight to NY and the. 15 hours later……..

And They’re Comin’ Round 3rd.

Musimbi, Sammie, Jaille, Spiderman

Today we started room three. You know the drill move the cribs from room three to room two before 9am naps and start all over again. By now we got it down to a science. First shift in for painting, second shift clean and prep, third shift tile, forth shift cut, fifth shift grout and clean and rounding 6th is Miss Mary with the new curtains. And since there are 4 of us we obviously have multiple positions.

In between working on the rooms you can usually find me holding, playing with accidentally taking) one of the little ones. Today was an absolute beautiful day-sunny and high 70s.

Joy leaves tomorrow to go back to the states for a month for a family wedding in Tennessee and a visit with family and friends in Rochester. For a special treat we had a good ole fashion bon fire and roasted marshmallows. We did not have chocolate or graham crackers and Oreos seemed to work for the children just fine.

Did you notice the sign? Just cracks us up every year. After we sugared up all the kids we sent them to bed and headed off ourselves. Take a listen to our night time serenade.

Our Father Across the Continents.

Sunday School in Bukura

Miss Mary

Today is Sunday and typically the children all go to church. Today was a bit different. We were asked to have Sunday school at home (since our host Joy was not able to take us). Miss Mary gathered the children to talk about the most important thing you can do is to love God and one another.

Sunday School in Rochester

I also had Sunday school today with my children from Rochester. I arranged to have a zoom call with my 4th and 5th graders from my Sunday class. I had the older kids from Burkura with me during the call.

I talked to both the kids about the power of prayer and of course what everyone’s favorite Marvel and DC character. We ended with all the kids saying the Our Father across the continents.

I hope the video comes through. It was a great moment and I hope one that the children will remember to pray for each other. The adults then had a lovey Sunday family dinner followed by a little fashion show of some of the dresses that we brought from my friend Nanci.

Road Trip!

Today we took a break and took ourselves and the children on a day trip to the Kakamega National Rain Forest. https://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5508/

We went to the Rondo Retreat Center at the entrance to the forest for lunch and a walk around the grounds and forest trails.

The grass was a treat for the children to run on and we brought a soccer – er – football to play with.

Fun was had by all.

Road Trip!

Today we took a break and took ourselves and the children on a day trip to the Kakamega National Rain Forest. https://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5508/

We went to the Rondo Retreat Center at the entrance to the forest for lunch and a walk around the grounds and forest trails.

The grass was a treat for the children to run on and we brought a soccer – er – football to play with.

Fun was had by all.

Fri – Yay at Rehema

Pretty much a normal day here at Rehema. By the time we wake up, the Aunties have the kids to school, the babies up, dressed, and fed, and are already hanging laundry. Even the dogs are up and waiting patiently outside our door for Mr. Tom. Hey, we are on vacation and we deserve to sleep in past 730! Lol

We have an Auntie that takes care of us too. We hire the Aunties to cook for us, giving them an opportunity to make extra money. They get paid a salary from Rehema when the income is available so this gives them a little something to hold them over. They are truly amazing, wonderful women who take care of this children like their own.

Sammie, Alec and Timo

These are the little boys that were part of the baby brigade when we were here in 2020. They now walk themselves back and forth to school – yes going outside the gate, down a busy rode and to the school. They come home for lunch and have the afternoon to play outside or watch the tiling and painting activity in the nursery.

One by one the older kids come home anywhere between 2 and 5 depending on the age. The girls school is further away and Jack goes and picks them up.

Sam helping with Kai

By 5 everyone is home, uniforms off, play clothes on and time for dinner. The kids all eat the same thing at the same time and then back outside to play – unless it is pouring and into the dining room they stay.

Friday Night at the Movies

Tonight we have the kids over for movies and treats. George downloaded movies onto his computer and we hook it up to a projector and speaker so all 11 of the older kids can see. I remember when we would circle around a small computer screen.

We can’t believe that we have been here a week already. We are hoping to take the kids on an outing tomorrow to either the rain forest or the pool to go swimming. Update on the projects: room two painted and tiled. Next cutting and grouting and then onto the 3rd room.

Zion says Lala Salama

From George, a Former Rehema Child

George Mwangi

Many of you know we met George last year when he came with us to Bukura for a few days. He grew up at Rehema since he was one. He is now a 23 year old living and supporting himself as the marketing and promotions manager for Rehema. He joined us once again this year along with another former child Wesley who is about to graduate from Pan Africa Christian University. More about him tomorrow!

They both came to join the Joi Team and be part of the 2023 Mission to Bukura. He published the Rehema newsletter today and wrote about his experience being here and I thought you would enjoy reading it.

The Simplicity of Love In everyday Interactions

Having grown up at Rehema Home Nairobi my entire life, we would get a lot of teams, come and visit and help make our living areas more comfortable. I remember how excited I’d get every time our rooms got a new coat of paint or new tiling. After 23 years of witnessing this happen, I finally get to be a part of a mission and I am all here for it.

On Friday a group of 4 and I flew in from Nairobi into Kisumu where we drove for an hour and a half into Bukura a small town about 30 minutes from Kakamega town. We came to Rehema Home Bukura with the intention of tiling the little girl’s room and 2 baby rooms. We arrived and were greeted by barking dogs, excited kids, and a fleet of the most hospitable Aunties I have ever met. We spent the weekend getting settled in, getting groceries from town, and setting up so we could start tiling

A week in and I am loving being around the kids and helping out at Bukura. It takes me back to when I was a child living at Rehema Home. I can feel the love that the administration, staff, and our team pour into the kids, and get excited every time one of the kids ran up to me, or when I make their day by doing something as simple as giving them a little treat.

I see the simplicity of love in the everyday interactions between the administration, staff, and the children they care for. It is the small gestures we make every day that brings smiles and laughter, fill our home, and create a sense of belonging for our children.

As a child who has grown up at Rehema Home and now works there as a Digital Marketer, I have come to realize that at Rehema Home, love is at the center of everything. Rehema Home’s biggest mission is to provide a safe and loving home for children who have been orphaned or abandoned and to help them grow into happy and healthy adults.

I believe I am a testimony of the wonderful work that Rehema Home does and hope that everything I do while I am at Rehema Home Bukura will remind the kids that they are loved and cared for and will eventually lead them to have the best opportunities in life.

Love may be one of the most powerful emotions in the world, but it is also one of the simplest. It is a reminder that sometimes the greatest things in life are the ones that come from the heart. If you believe in the power of love and want to help make a difference in our kids’ lives, then please consider making a donation to Rehema Home. 

Your contribution will help purchase tiles, and paint which we will use to make the girl’s room and 2 baby rooms more livable. We have already started tiling and have finished tiling the girl’s room, you can see the before and after below. It will also go into helping pay the Aunty’s back salaries. They deserve it for all the wonderful work they do at Rehema Home Bukura. 

Together, you can help us continue to spread love and make a positive impact at Rehema Home. To make a donation click the link below and indicate that the money will go into our 2023 Mission to Rehema Home Bukura

Rehema Home

A Story about Joy

Joy is an amazing young women that has dedicated her life to the children of Rehema. She is from the Rochester area originally and calls Bukura her home. She takes care of the home and the children making sure that is runs smoothly and the children are taken care of. This is a 24 x 7 job and one that is very difficult even in your country of origin. Having this responsibility in a foreign country with a very different culture and skin color makes it even harder. Last year when I was here I sat down with Joy to learn more about how she came to be here.

The video was to large to upload with the WI-FI here at the home and linking it here. https://karensjoi.com/2022/08/03/asante-sana-for-your-support/

Today I went into town with Joy to help her with some of her errands. Buying new mattresses was at the top of our list. The team before us had donated a sum of money to purchase them and they are desperately needed and will be so welcomed. The ones we wanted were the blue ones on the top shelf. When it was brought down the price was $500 shillings or $5.00/per mattress more expensive then her budget. That does not seem like very much to us, but when you have to buy 12 it gets very pricey and the extra 6000 shillings will help pay for other important items. Every shilling counts when you run on donations.

We made a few stops along the way to a super market, hardware store and tailor shop. We ran into people she knew and was introduced to them with a gracious hug. We even stopped for a Kenyan hotdog for lunch. Don’t worry Zweigles.

We had a rain free day so the little ones were able to come out between afternoon nap and dinner to have a ride on the whirly bird – I think that is what you call it. They were on it for a good hour without a peep and enjoying every minute. Yes, even with Tom cutting tile in the background.

Last night we fell asleep to the falling rain and tonight to the singing of praise by the Aunties. The night shift gathers every evening for prayer before saying good night and to pray over the children, family and friends. I too pray for you and yours and want to thank you for all the support you have given these children.

Wait, What? This Sounds Familiar

Today is declared as a national holiday. Some of the children went to school and some did not. When they went to school the classrooms were empty because some recognized the holiday rule and some did not…..wait, what?

Tell me if this sounds familiar. Nairobi had their elections last August. The losing candidate – by only .6% – thinks the outcome of the election was not correct. He declared today a national holiday (which he can’t) for his supporters to march and protest the election.

SOOOO, back in peaceful Rehema, it was a lovely day. The older girls did not go to school so had fun coloring with the crayons with pages brought by Tom and Mary.

Miss Mary was hard at work mending clothes and had an audience of children eager to help. Mary is now thinking of a little sewing project for the kids and determined to turn one of them into a seamstress. In fact this would be a well worthy talent to help support yourself and family.

The tiling has begun and continued in shifts throughout the day. The trick this year is that there are three rooms and two of them are where the babies sleep. So, we started with the girls room and need to completely finish it so that we can move cribs into the room. Finish that room, move the cribs from the second room into the 1st room and then when all three rooms are done put everyone back in the right rooms. Oh, yea – we decided to throw in painting and Miss Mary is making curtains.

I showed you this last year and it still melts my heart. The older children help feed the babies to help out the Aunties. When there are 10+ to feed, 3 x’s a day every day you need all the help you can get.

Meet the latest most precious little one to come to Rehema. So small and will be loved and cared for in the biggest of ways.

For those that have been following me since 2020 you may remember Grace. She was a little girl that I just fell in love with and was glued to my side for the time I was here. It was because of her that I continue to come back. She has since been adopted and think of her often. Well, meet Ester, my little shadow and inspiration. At first she would just stare from afar looking at me with serious eyes and when she decided I was a good one took my hand sat me down and climbed up on my lap. Okay, the cookie had nothing to do with it.

We are sitting here at 9:50 pm talking about our day and looking at the pics the children took with our phones. We are heading to bed and will be lulled to sleep by the sound of the pouring rain. The rainy season begins in March so we expect this to happen every day. With the rain the electricity goes out – and thank goodness for a working generator that keeps everything on.

Lala Salama

It is a Team Approach

There are many “teams” that come to Rehema Homes on a mission trip. They are part of church groups, organizations or simply friends and family like us. When we arrived a group of 11 young adults had just been here from Solid Foundation Group. A young girl Maria stayed an extra two weeks and was still here the day we arrived.

“Where you from?” “Syracuse, New York she answered, “Have you heard of it?”It’s a small world began playing in my head.

The team, aged in their mid-20’s, had to pay for their travel and all expenses and raise money for a donation. They contributed to the home by helping to purchase a much needed refrigerator, bunk beds, a washing machine, mattresses, chicken feed and a new gas stove — just to name a few things.

The JOI Team

Today was our team day to begin the preparation for our mission. We began prepping the first room by taking out the bunk beds and shelves and filling the deep cracks and holes.

1st of 3 rooms we are going to try and get done while we are here. With Wesley and George part of the tile brigade we are very excited.

AND, we got Miss Mary set up in the play room with a sewing area. There was a Mary Mending pile ready for her and she went straight to work.

Mary set up after dinner in our room and the children were fascinated.

It happens all the time. The kids will ask for my phone to play games, listen to music and primarily to take pictures and videos. You never know what you will get back. I leave you with a few photos that were captured that shows you a little slice of everyday life here at Rehema.

Self Portrait of Musimbi
An important room for all
Looking for kids? Follow the shoes. One of the dogs is always near-by.
Special Sunday treat. The kids were allowed to watch a movie upstairs.
A view from the top landing.
Stairs leading to the room upstairs
Samie is the most loving little boy.
Bigger Sammie with a serious self portrait.
Today’s lunch for the kids, rice and beans. If you wondered what we had – rice and beans, too.
Daily outing and playtime for the 10 – yes, 10 babies. Each day they come out between lunch and 2pm nap time to get some fresh air.
What would life be for a child without a little Marvel.
Alec is always around……and looking for love.