Support Other Women. Period.

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Support Other Women. Period.

Support Other Women. Period.

Sarah (Nyarsirembe) and Christine (Nyarkisumu), two of the women of Restore Humanity

Sarah (Nyarsirembe) and Christine (Nyarkisumu), two of the women of Restore Humanity

March is International Women’s Month (yes, I said month!).  The women of Restore Humanity believe this should be celebrated and the best way to do so is for each of us to look at other women and find out what they really need--and then find effective ways to help provide it.  Here in the US our focus tends to be on the necessity for our equality, respect and opportunity, and rightfully so!  However, we are remiss if we fail to notice the huge chasm between groups of women when it comes to more basic needs.  And what could be more basic, or more of a woman’s issue than our periods?  AH! Yes I said it.  It’s nothing to be ashamed of ladies. Half of the world’s population deals with this one week out of every month, so we should be able to talk about it.

While “ladytime” is no picnic for anyone, for millions of women and girls worldwide it means so much more than discomfort. Millions of women and girls do not have access to maxi pads or tampons at all simply because they cannot afford them. However, every woman knows that nature will still take its course and “Aunt Flo” is coming whether you want her to or not. So unfortunately these girls and women have to use things like mud, sticks, leaves, pieces of a foam mattress, or old rags to try to manage their cycles. Not only do these things not work, they sometimes cause harmful infections.

The statistics are staggering. For example,  some estimates say that the average girl in Kenya misses 4.9 days of school every month, every single month of the school year.  That means they’re missing at least 20% of their school year due to lack of maxi-pads! That is just unacceptable. Period.

In 2012, I met with the girl students at Sirembe Secondary School (In Kenya) to talk about life and being a girl. At some point our discussion turned to the issue of schoolgirls having sex with older men, which is a problem for many reasons, not the least of which is the rapid spread of HIV. I asked them why girls were doing this and the first answer I got was “they do it to get money to buy things like maxi-pads.”  My jaw hit the floor. As I was leaving I asked them if there was one thing that I could do to help them, what would it be? Unanimously they said “Please buy us max-pads.”

Since then Restore Humanity has provided maxi-pads for the girls at Sirembe Secondary School, even as their population has quadrupled. Last year there were 325 girls and now it is closer to 380. While getting them pads was the most important thing, the impact on the environment was always in the back of my mind. The plastic in maxi-pads is non-biodegradable which means they stay in landfills for about 800 years! So if we buy pads for 380 girls each month, and if each girl uses that pack of 12 every month, that is 4,560 pads thrown away each month, and 54,720 per year from just one high school in rural Kenya! (432 million pads are disposed of each month globally)

The good news is we have found another way! A company called Thinx here in the US that makes underwear for your period (check them out, they are amazing) ---** for every pair you buy, they give to a social business in Uganda called Afripads. Afripads makes reusable maxi-pads that last for an entire year and they are amazing! They employ 170 people in Uganda and upwards of 95% of them are women, in all levels of the business. They partner with nonprofits and women’s groups and have reached almost 1 million women and girls with their products.

A packet of Afripads contains 3 daytime pads and 1 nighttime pad and a storage bag.  This packet costs around $5 and it lasts for an entire year. I tested them out myself on this past trip and asked my fellow staff ladies to do the same and everyone loved them! They are really comfortable, they actually work really well, and they’re also really easy to wash and take care of! We were spending about $1 per girl (for a 12 pack of pads), per month ($12 per year), but now we will be spending only $5 per year. It is more of a cost upfront but the return on investment is worth it on so many fronts!

  1. We help girls be safe, stay in school, and manage their periods with confidence and comfort.

  2. We help the environment in a big way.

  3. We support a social business, in Africa that employs almost 170 women.

  4. We save money!

So pretty much it is a win, win, win, win.  How could it get any better than that?!?

 

HERE IS WHERE YOU COME IN

 

We want to buy 500 packets of Afripads at the end of this month--380 for the High School in Sirembe, Kenya (where all of our projects are located) and 120 for the primary school girls in 7th and 8th grade. Again, this packet will last these girls ALL YEAR! To do this we need to raise:

$2,500--AND WE DID IT! Thank you and read more below...

Here are some of the beautiful young women at Sirembe Secondary School that you will be helping directly!

Here are some of the beautiful young women at Sirembe Secondary School that you will be helping directly!

So in honor of International Women’s month we are asking 100 women to give $25 each to reach our goal!

WE MET OUR GOAL! Now 500 girls in Kenya are going to get Maxi-PADS. Thank you All!!!

DONATE HERE

But--we are still going strong! We are raising money for the rest of the month to support women and girls! how Do we do that? REad Below..

 

Jane (manager of our Children's Home), Sarah (Founder of Restore Humanity), Wilfrieda (House Mother)

Jane (manager of our Children's Home), Sarah (Founder of Restore Humanity), Wilfrieda (House Mother)

 

We are so happy to announce that we met our goal and that now 500 Kenyan girls will have maxi-pads for an entire year! And so happy to continue raising funds for the rest of the month to support girls and women! How? Well, there are girls in surrounding schools that also need pads and then there is the local maternity ward that we helped build which is in need of supplies and equipment. In other words, there are many girls and women that need our support in variety of ways.  And all of the money that we raise through this campaign (every single cent) will go towards supporting women and girls. So let’s take it as far as we can!

 

Support other women. Period.

 

DONATE

 

Happy International Women’s month ladies! #supportotherwomenperiod



 

Lots of Love and Gratitude,

 

Sarah Fennel Buchanan & The Restore Humanity Global Team






 

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It's the Little Things

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It's the Little Things

It's the Little Things

Life is so amazing. Earlier this week I was sitting outside watching the sunset with Baby (Christine) on my lap and the other kiddos surrounding me.  My heart was full. Being surrounded by my kiddos is absolutely my happy place.  A few days later I am home in Arkansas walking outside on an unseasonably warm February day trying to wrap my head around the fact that only a few days ago I was on a different continent on the other side of the planet.

People always want to know if it is really weird to come home after living in an African village—if the reverse culture shock is too much. Well, at first it was.  It took me doing this twice a year for multiple years for my brain to get used to it. While I flow in between them pretty easily now it still takes my brain a few days to catch up. What I mean is, right now I know that I am physically in Arkansas but it still does not exactly feel like I am.  It is as if my brain is still somewhere, maybe over the Atlantic, in transition between the two places.  Whether I am arriving in Kenya or coming home to Arkansas it always takes a few days to feel grounded where I actually am.

Something else that comes out of each and every trip I take is a renewed sense of purpose. This time is no exception. It is one thing to know intellectually that we are providing a home for children who need one—that they are cared for and provided with each and everything they need to be healthy and happy, but it is something altogether different to viscerally experience how their hearts have opened when they give you a squeeze or when you see them completely at ease as they go through their day.  It’s the kind of ease that you can only feel when you are truly at “home.”

Although it might seem a small thing to someone else, to me witnessing that is the most beautiful and affirming thing in the world. I remember the pain and chaos that these children have come from and know the physical and emotional state that they were in when they arrived. To now witness them being so calm because they feel safe and loved is nothing short of miraculous and no matter how many times I see it my heart continues to be completely overwhelmed.

I will give you an example of what I mean from this most recent trip.  During the first week we were there it was just a regular school day for the kids. I had been at our Home playing with them that afternoon for a few hours and then dinnertime came around. Wilfrieda, one of our House Mothers (she has worked there since before we opened our doors), announced that it was time to wash up and sit down to eat. I was just standing there observing it all. Some kids headed to bathe.  Some were putting away toys, others were preparing the table for dinner. Then I noticed Peter, one of our smaller kids (he just started 3rd grade). One of the other kids yelled for him to get something from the kitchen.  Peter giggled, made a funny face, spun around, and then ran toward the kitchen.

And there it was, something so subtle, but so telling. He was totally at ease.  He felt so free, just a kid being a kid, in his own home. Now anyone with children has seen this with their own kids.  When they are home they’re generally goofier than when they’re other places. They feel free to be themselves, no matter how weird that might be. Seeing Peter do that and feel so free was an “aha” moment for me. He is home. Peter was very cautious and guarded when he moved in with us and remained so for a long time afterward. He would have fun and play, but was always still skeptically watching what was happening. He didn’t let his guard down at all so to see him so carefree without any hesitation or a second thought was pretty incredible.

Our boys being silly, a regular occurrence. Peter is the one laughing the in the Hawaiian shorts.

Our boys being silly, a regular occurrence. Peter is the one laughing the in the Hawaiian shorts.

It is the small moments like these that remind me what all of this is for—providing a place and space for kids to be loved, a place where kids can just be kids. Everyone deserves that and I am so thankful for the opportunity to help provide a true home for 19 amazing children who would not otherwise have one. Caring for those who cannot care for themselves is, by my lights, the most important thing to be done in this world and because of the hard work our staff does everyday along with the support from our generous donors we are doing just that.

From Left Owen, Sammie, Baby, Peter, Clinton, Austin and Boo is in the back.  

From Left Owen, Sammie, Baby, Peter, Clinton, Austin and Boo is in the back.

 

Thank you all for your support and for being a part of our global family.  We are excited about the year to come and have many more wonderful things to share with you!  Stay tuned...

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Reflections for 2016 and Goals for 2017

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Reflections for 2016 and Goals for 2017

As we reflect on the past year we cannot help but smile. Our kiddos in our Children's Home are all healthy and strong. Each one of them progressed in school and will head to the next grade in January. Two of our boys, Austin and Clinton, whom we have had since they were babies will start 1st grade next month and will proudly walk to school each morning with their siblings. That is oh so bittersweet, as any parent can attest to. Our RH Scholar Moses Vincent Agare also had a really big year, as most of you know since he was actually crowned the first University of Arkansas Homecoming King at the Ole Miss game this past October! It is amazing what love, support, and encouragement can do for people. Given the right environment infused with lots of love does wonders. And we feel so blessed to have a front row seat to see it all unfold.

Thank you all for your support this year, we could not do it without our donors, volunteers, and Board of Directors. You all make it possible. Below is a brief synopsis on what we did this year in each project and what we hope to do in 2017. 

Please also keep in mind that your donation today will help us to met those goals and if you donate by midnight on December 31st your donation is tax deductible for the 2016 tax year.

DONATE HERE

  

Our newest kiddo Christine aka "Baby" moved in with her sister Pamela in February of this year.

Our newest kiddo Christine aka "Baby" moved in with her sister Pamela in February of this year.

JCO Children’s Home

      2016

o   We have provided a loving and stable home for our 19 boys and girls this year. They are all healthy and doing well. They just finished their school year and will begin a new grade in January. Our kiddos are our daily inspiration. They have such bright futures and we feel so blessed to have a front row seat to see how they make the world a better place!

o   Our eldest kiddo Juma is graduating High School this month and we are so proud of him! He has lived with us for the last 5 years and has been a bright shining light in our home since the moment he got there. He is a very smart young man that wants to be an aeronautical engineer.

      2017--Goals

o   Juma will be moving out and headed to college and we already have another little one in mind that will take his place. If all goes well we will move him into our home in January!

o   We plan to continue to care for our kiddos in our home. We will continue to give them love and support and cover all of their needs because we are their family.

o   We also have some infrastructure goals that we hope to accomplish in 2017.  Here is what we need:

  A boy’s dormitory for our Children’s Home. As our kiddos are growing we need more space in our home. The bulk of our kids are about to be teenagers as well and a little more space between the girls and boys sleeping areas is needed.

  Kitchen Renovation for our Home. We cook everything with firewood and our kitchen needs much better ventilation for our staff’s health. We plan to purchase two big cooking vats that drastically reduce the smoke and make their jobs safer and easier. The current kitchen will also need to be bigger to accommodate the new equipment.

  Solar panels for our Children’s Home. We do not have electricity in our home, but since we sit right on the equator there is quite a lot of sunshine. We found a great company in Kenya that can provide and install the panels for a low cost and they work really well!

  We also want to purchase two more 10,000-liter rainwater tanks to collect water for the home.

DONATE HERE

Violet who lives in our Children's Home with her buddy Rose who is in our Outreach Program.

Violet who lives in our Children's Home with her buddy Rose who is in our Outreach Program.

 

Outreach Program

Our Program to assist other children in the area that live with their families

      2016

o   We assisted 44 children with School Fees and all passed well and continued         on the the next grade.

o   We provided maxi-pads for 325 girls in Sirembe each month

o   We have a Daycare Center where 35 local children attend to prepare for Primary School

     2017--Goals

o   We hope to assist 55 kids with School Fees (Click here to contribute to our #Educate40 program)

o   We plan to continue to provide 350 girls in Sirembe with maxi-pads every month.

o   The new school year at our Daycare Center starts in January

Our First RH Scholar crowned UA Homecoming King at the Ole Miss Game in October.

Our First RH Scholar crowned UA Homecoming King at the Ole Miss Game in October.

 

 

RH Scholars Program

      2016

o   Our RH Scholar Moses Vincent Agare became the first International Student to be elected a Senator in the University of Arkansas Student Government.

o   Moses also was crowned the first ever Homecoming King of the U of A

o   Moses is doing well in his junior year at the U of A studying Civil Engineering.

o   We all knew he had potential, but recently he has been blowing us away!

o   Another RH Scholar Jerrym Molla, who used to live in our JCO Children’s Home, is studying International Business at USIU in Nairobi. USIU is rated the Top Business School in East Africa and Jerrym is thriving! He currently has a 3.4 GPA.

     2017--Goals

o   We hope to bring Juma here to be our 3rd RH Scholar! He is the bright young man that has been living in our JCO Children’s Home for the past 5 years. He wants to study engineering and feels passionately about helping Restore Humanity as an adult. He is an amazing young man and we believe he will indeed make the world better.

o   Moses and Jerrym will continue their studies and we will be here to support them.

DONATE HERE

A newborn baby girl just a few hours old born in the Maternity Ward that we helped build

A newborn baby girl just a few hours old born in the Maternity Ward that we helped build

RH Medical Project

·      The Maternity Ward that we helped build in 2015 has now had almost 200 healthy babies born there to healthy and happy mothers.

 

·      2017-Goal

o   On our trip to Kenya in January we hope to find new ways to support the Maternity Ward and assist in even greater healthcare for the community of Sirembe. 

May 2017 be full of blessings for you and your family! Happy New Year

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Something Has Shifted (Part 2)

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Something Has Shifted (Part 2)

Something has Shifted (Part 2)

Encouraging quotes from students are put up all around Sirembe Secondary School

Encouraging quotes from students are put up all around Sirembe Secondary School

If you missed Part 1 last week click here...

 When I first visited Sirembe in 2007 the Principal was the late Peter Owour. Mr. Owour almost immediately shared with me that he was troubled by the lack of girls in school and the high dropout rate. In his years at Sirembe he did his best to grow the school both in the number of students and in academic performance. He was successful on both fronts. He built new buildings and made the school much better for everyone.  He also went to great lengths to encourage the girls that were there.  Mr. Owour and I had countless conversations about educating girls and he did all that he could, given his resources and the attitudes of the community, to improve the situation for them.

 However, a major shift happened in January 2014 that serendipitously coincided with changing attitudes surrounding girl’s education.  A new Principal took over the school. Mr. Henry Airo, a man whose wife was studying for her PhD at the time, is very passionate about educating girls. To be clear, not everyone was ready for this particular change. I actually overheard an Education Minister telling Mr. Airo on his very first day on the job that they were thinking that Sirembe Secondary School should start “phasing girls out” and just become an all boys school because girls were “difficult”. I was infuriated and began to discuss it with two women members of the school Board, Margret and Susan. They were as appalled as I was and my partner Mrs. Opot felt the same way.

 Our outrage persisted until a few days later when Mr. Airo invited Mrs. Opot and I to his office. That day he told us about his plans not only to keep girls there, but to actually start allowing the girls to board at the school too! He said he had every intention of giving girls the exact same opportunities as boys. I was blown away and right then and there we gave him the remaining money he needed for the girls bunk beds.

He cleaned out a classroom and set it up for the girls to stay in. He started with just the Form 4 girls (Seniors) boarding due to a lack of space. As a result of the girls being able to board at school just like the boys, the grades of the girls in that class averaged higher than the boys for the first time in the school’s history. That was quite an accomplishment and the confidence and enthusiasm of the girls in that graduating class of 2014 was passed down to all of the girls coming after them.

 Fast forward to January 2016 when I stood in front of almost 300 shining and beautiful faces. We had just informed Mr. Airo about our #Educate20girls campaign and that some wonderful donors in the US had paid to assist 20 girls in need with their fees for 2016. We hadn’t chosen which girls yet, but I encouraged all of them to do as well as they could.  I let them know that the better they did, the easier it would be for me to find support for even more girls the following year and that if they continue to work hard and focus on their dreams that they would go far.  I also told them how proud I was of them.  Their faces were just beaming and it was such a beautiful thing to witness. Many of them were really confident and even assertive. They knew it was their right to be there and they intended to make the most of their opportunity. That was a very different group than the girl students I encountered just 9 years before. It was pretty amazing.

A group of some of the powerful young ladies attending Sirembe Secondary taken August 2016

A group of some of the powerful young ladies attending Sirembe Secondary taken August 2016

After I left I almost immediately began reflecting on how far that school had come. Just nine years ago the Sirembe Secondary School population was less than 300 boys and girls (10% of that were girls) and in 2016 there were over 700 students attending the school and 326 of them were girls! That is almost half, which is incredible! That combined with the academic performance of the school increasing every year is just so inspiring! Both Mr. Airo and Mr. Owour are to be commended. It has been an honor to work with them both. We will continue to support education through Sirembe Secondary School as long as we are able.

 The combination of the worldwide support of educating girls, two enthusiastic principals willing to go to the mat for them, the first boarding class of girls doing better than the boys, and the growing confidence of our girls, all conspired to cause the community of Sirembe to begin changing its attitude toward girl’s education. In recent years I have heard many people changing their tune. It’s no longer uncommon (i.e. rare) to hear many people in Sirembe saying, “ Of course you should educate girls.” Now that is progress!

In 2017 we hope to assist a minimum of 30 girls and include 10 boys this year too. While boys traditionally get more support from their families, there are still many families that cannot afford to send their boys to school. We all rise together and we also need educated young men. Our goal is to raise $10,000 and our campaign starts tomorrow and will run through December 31st.  Please join us in providing education to some amazing young people that if given the opportunity, can change their community, their country, and possibly the world!

 

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Something Has Shifted (Part 1)

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Something Has Shifted (Part 1)

Photo by Cole Fennel Photography

Photo by Cole Fennel Photography

Something has shifted... (Part 1)

Last January in Kenya I stood in front of almost 300 Kenyan girls at Sirembe Secondary School at the beginning of their 2016 school year. The feeling that I had is hard to put into words. Their excitement about the new school year was palpable. Though excitement is not uncommon for students all over the world at the beginning of a new school year or even a new semester, for these young women it meant so much more.

For one thing, I had just informed them that, with the help of some awesome US donors, we had raised enough funds to assist 20 of them with their school fees for the 2016 school year but their excitement largely came from a deep appreciation of how precious an opportunity it was for them to even to be in school.

 Let me back up a minute and take you back to my first visit in 2007 to the Sirembe Secondary School (it is a high school, grades 9th-12th). At that time the school was much smaller and only boys were allowed to board there. There were around 30-35 girls total that were attending the school at the time.  More than 85% of the school’s population was boys. There were years that not even one girl made it to graduation.  

The two main causes for the massive discrepancy between girls and boys being educated stem from the culture and from poverty. In this case these two are intertwined.  From a cultural standpoint there is no real impediment to educating girls but when school fees are expensive and you have to chose which child to send to school, close to 99 times out of 100, the boy would be chosen.  There is of course some male patriarchy involved in this, which is an unfortunate worldwide phenomenon, but the main reason circles back around to economics.

 In traditional Luo culture when a girl marries she leaves her family and is from that point forward part of her husband’s family. She lives on their land and stays with them, often even when her husband dies. It is the boys who inherit their parent’s land and will build a house right next to where their parents live. It is the boys who are responsible for supporting their parents in old age. In contrast, the girls will be supporting only their in-laws and so parents would see educating them as a waste of scarce resources.  Why educate your daughters if her in-laws are the only ones who will ever benefit from your investment while you are left with nothing?

 People here in the US (myself included) will at first glance judge that as a selfish decision. However, an interesting point was brought to my attention in the book Poor Economics that complicated my view. They are living in a country that doesn’t have a successful social security system or any sort of safety net for older folks. As a result, impoverished elderly people in rural communities especially are left to fend for themselves. So if they have to choose, then it makes sense to choose the boy.

 Of course, that is not the entire story. Over the years, I often heard people ask “Why does a girl need to be educated?” or something along those lines. At the same time I knew some very awesome women in that community that would just as quickly retort with all of the reasons they should be.

 The world was also changing. Many non-profits and leaders began a worldwide movement to educate girls. Eventually this caught on and the Kenyan government started campaigns to encourage people to educate girls by showing them just how much girls can do for their communities. Many non-profits began giving money only for girl’s education worldwide and it became almost trendy to support girls. Over the years this began to reach even rural communities…like Sirembe…

Read Part two

These are some of the wonderful girls that we were able to assist this year through our Outreach Program #educate20girls.

These are some of the wonderful girls that we were able to assist this year through our Outreach Program #educate20girls.

 

 

 

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Winetopia 2016

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Winetopia 2016

On October 21st we had our best Winetopia fundraiser to date—it honestly gets better every year! With the help of so many awesome individuals and businesses we raised $63,157!

 

It was the chilliest night of October, but it was perfect for our event. The Pratt Place Barn looked gorgeous as usual even before we started. But once we were finished it was stunning. There were a few big changes this year. We had multiple wine sponsors with their own tables with so many wonderful varietals to taste, 3 awesome local craft beer distributors pouring lots of goodness and even a bourbon table with some delicious top shelf bourbons to taste. We also had some really good food this year! Every year it is good, but this year it was even better! (Beer, wine, bourbon, and food sponsors listed below).

 

Our guests mingled, ate, drank, and were merry. They piled in the Making Memories Photobooth for some fabulous photos and enjoyed the sweet tunes coming from our DJ Matt Boles. Bartus outdid himself again creating the Buzz Events Lounge outside. As always it was the hotspot and it was amazing. Inside the barn my dad (a.k.a Carny in the Corner) had people winning big at the Wine Toss and everyone perused all of the wonderful silent auction items donated by local artists and businesses. And of course we had pictures of our sweet kiddos all over the barn bringing the point home that all of the work and care that went into that night was oh so worth it. 

 

My favorite part of this event each year is that I am reminded what an incredibly kind and enthusiastically generous community we live in. I mean, honestly. Whether it's the sponsors, donors, guests, or volunteers—people extend a hand to help however they can. It blows me away every year and I am beyond grateful. In fact, that was my strategy for dealing with the stress of the event. I just focused on being grateful for the generous hearts in our community and how much good we will be able to do with the funds we raise!

 

Since it is such a big event, it takes a serious crew to get it all done well and our volunteer crew is the best in the business and I am so thankful! Below are some gorgeous photos of the night taken by the one and only Cole Fennel (Cole Fennel Photography) and please take a moment to look at this list of volunteers, sponsors, and silent auction donors that helped to make this night possible! 

 

Lots of Love & Gratitude,

Sarah Fennel Buchanan

 

 

 

Winetopia Core Crew Volunteers

Chris Beavers—Auction Chair

Meredith Adkins—Volunteer Coordinator

Adrienne Stone- Auction Assistant

Herbert “Boo” Buchanan—Event Coordinator (He “puts out fires”)

Joe Fennel—Carny In the Corner

Darrin Ingraham- Tech Master

Warren Fyfe--Parking Captain 

Alannah Massey

Tanj Donovan

Jessy Lang

Charlie Hoeven

Kaitlyn Akel

Kristi Batchelor

Anne-Michelle Hopwood

Michael Adkins

Chris Arcana

Jack Scaccia

Hassan Huntley

Grant James

Germaine Chambers

Brooke McDonald

Lana Lyon

Kimberly Clinehens

Nick Mote

Rick & Bridget Wall

Jean Ann Fennel

Jay Fennel

Moses Vincent Agare

Steven Stone

Jose Aviles

Tristan (Custom Beverage)

Bartus Taylor & Buzz Events Crew

 

Honorary Hosts

Dr. Scott & Leslie Baliey

Chris & Jeremy Beavers

Ben & Molly Blakeman

Abdi Dubed

Linley & Dave Dust

Chris Goddard & Bartus Taylor

Leigh Hopkins & Stephanie Isaman

Dr. Allyson & William Mertins

Neal & Gina Pendergraft

Tom & Debbi Smith

Rick & Amy Sorrell

 

 

Sponsors

 

“Grape Crusher” Level Sponsor

Miller Boskus Lack

Blakeman’s Jewelry

Mertins Eye Care

Greg & Hannah Lee

 

"Harvester" Sponsor

Roblee Orthodontics

Max  & Lydia Mahler

 

“Planter” Level Sponsor

Signature Bank

Quadrivium

Lucke Dental

 

Wine Sponsors

Custom Beverage

Southern Glazers

Constellation

De Nux Distributors

Naughty Diva

 

Bourbon Sponsor

Beam Suntory

 

Local Craft Beer

Core Brewery

Fossil Cove Brewery 

Arkansas Craft Distributors

 

Community Sponsors

Buzz Events

Intents Party Rentals

Moxy Ox

Eventures Party Rentals

Light Works Events

AV Designs

Showerfilter Store by NewMarket Naturals

Making Memories Photobooth

Cole Fennel Photography

 

Media Sponsors

Citiscapes Magazine

3W Magazine

KUAF

 

Restaurant Sponsors

Bordinos

Bocca 

Arsaga's

Slim Chickens

Mia Tarts

Fayetteville Pastry Shop

 

Wine Toss Sponsors

Liquor World

Pandora's Bottle/ Iron Hand

County Line Liquors

 

Silent Auction Donors

All Sports Production

Apple Blossom

AR State Beauty Supply

Arts Live Theatre 

Bella Vita Jewelry

Blakeman's Fine Jewelry

Bordinos

Brad Haj

Chef Thomas from Tyson

Chris Beavers and Michelle Fyfe

Chuy's

Claudia Smith 

Closets to the Max

Clubhaus Fitness

Coach Darin Phelan

Cole Fennel Photography

Copper Pig

Dark Star Visuals

Dog Party USA

Don Schaap

Dr. Brian Buell

Elevate

Fayettechill

Fayetteville Acupuncture

Fayetteville Athletic Club

Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce

Fayetteville Pilates & Barre

FHS Cheer

Flora

Good Things

Greg Dog Vintage Boutique

Heidi Brugliera

Hermans

i'Mindful Studio

i'Mindful Studio

Jeff Caudle

Joe & Jean Ann Fennel

Joe Giardi of New York Yankees

Khana Indian

Kirk Lanier

Kyle Adams

Lola Boutique

Lucke Dental

Matt Buell Designs

Maude

Mertins

Mertins

Mia Tarts & More

Nan Sherry

Native Nectar

Nitron

Onemanband

Pack Rat Outdoor Center

Petra Café

Phunbags

Pieceful Hands Quilters

Pratt Place Inn

Remedy Road

Retreat Day Spa at FAC

Revive Medical Spa

Robin Devine

Robinson Cano of Seattle Mariners

Roger Boskus

Romance Diamonds

Rustic Mule

Salon Bloom

Sara Kincaid & Jessica Phelan

Sarahndipity

Savoir Faire

Shindig Paperie

Showerfilter Store by Newmark Naturals

Southern Trends

Speckled Pig

Sunshine Broder at Shine Salon

Tareneh Manning @ Bassett Mix

Terra Tots

Thatch Jewelry

The Bike Route

The Independent

The Rainbow Lodge

Trailside Yoga

Walker Bros.

Walker Bros.

Walton Arts Center

Westwood Gardens

Yoga Deza

Buzz Events Lounge

Buzz Events Lounge

Buzz Events Lounge

Buzz Events Lounge

Mia Tarts & More

Mia Tarts & More

Buzz Events Lounge

Buzz Events Lounge

Arkansas Craft Distributors

Arkansas Craft Distributors

Bordinos yummy crab cakes

Bordinos yummy crab cakes

Bocca--these were spectacular drizzled with fresh pesto

Bocca--these were spectacular drizzled with fresh pesto

Arsaga's goodness

Arsaga's goodness

Fayetteville Pastry Shop

Fayetteville Pastry Shop

Fossil Cove Brewery

Fossil Cove Brewery

 

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The Secret to Our Success: Our Kiddos

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The Secret to Our Success: Our Kiddos

The Secret to our Success: Our kiddos

 

At our JCO Children’s Home in Kenya we have worked so hard over these last 6 years to provide a true “home” for our kiddos, in every sense of the word.  We have kept the same well-trained staff, and they’ve done an amazing job providing a safe and loving environment in which the kids have been able to stick to a consistent schedule and be cared for in every way that they can be.  We have also kept the number of children in our home small in order to foster a family atmosphere and ensure they build the kind of familial relationships conducive to proper development and an enriched life. We started with 10 children and have added slowly over time. We now have 19 children (the maximum is 20) living in our home.

The results of operating our home in this way has been incredible and exactly what we had hoped for.  They are indeed a little family. I see all of our kiddos making so much progress emotionally and in school and I am amazed. You would be too if you had seen just where they started. I do feel like Mrs. Opot, Patrick, myself, and the rest of the staff have done a great job but to be honest the main reason this model works so well is because of the children themselves.

These little humans are full of so much love and goodness and they just needed the right space to let it all out. On my last trip I just watched in wonderment how much they all love each other and know each other on such a deep level, in the way only siblings can. They love me, Mrs. Opot, Patrick and the rest of the staff to be sure, but whom they love the most is each other.  It is a beautiful thing to witness.

At the beginning of this journey we opened the doors to our first 10 children and cared for only them for the first year. This was the most challenging time to be sure because all 10 of them came to us in very raw emotional states, many of them having endured more than anyone should ever have to. Our staff was also learning how best to manage 10 kids that were really unpredictable. We worked hard to give them consistency and a feeling of safety. We immersed them in love and over time we saw the rough edges just melt away.

While each child has their own path and some take longer than others to find their stability.  It has become significantly easier over time for our new kids to acclimate to their new home. In recent years the transitions have been much smoother. The staff deserves some credit here because they have learned a lot and are extra sweet to the newbies. But the main difference, by my lights, is the other children.

After starting with 10 kids and living with only them for the first year I was a little apprehensive about how they would treat any newcomers. I wondered if they would be “clicky”, or resentful of someone new in their space. However, to my surprise and delight the exact opposite happened! Our kiddos were extremely welcoming and to this day every new kid that comes in is made to feel at home.

On my last trip we moved in two new little girls, Christine aka “Baby” and her sister Pamela. The children were told about their arrival and two of our older girls worked hard to prepare their space for them. One of them (also named Pamela) even gave up the bed that she had slept in for 6 years so that the sisters could sleep on the same bunk bed and feel more comfortable. I was so moved by this, no one asked her to do it, she just decided that the girls would feel better that way. Pamela and Teresa prepared the beds for the new girls beautifully, so that as soon as they arrived they were thrilled.

Baby and Pamela's new bed that the older girls fixed up for them.

Baby and Pamela's new bed that the older girls fixed up for them.

Another really cute example is how Austin treated a new kid that was about his age on his first day. Austin was only about 4 at the time. Our new little one was pretty skittish and had a tight grip on my hand as we walked into the home. I had just spent the last hour with him and was at that moment the only person he felt even slightly comfortable with in his new surroundings. We arrived at the home at night and as we walked him into our boy’s room to show him where he would sleep, Austin said to him (in Luo) “Hey, don’t worry. Tomorrow we will have porridge.” It was such a simple way to comfort a new kid and it just warmed my heart. Within 10 minutes our new kiddo felt so welcome by everyone he let go of my hand and did not even notice when I left.

Any child that comes into our home has suffered devastating loss of one or both of their parents and often the suffering did not stop there. As bad as this situation is, how great is it that they get to come into a home full of their peers that have been through exactly the same thing? What better support network could there be?

Violet and her new sibling "Baby". This was Baby's 2nd day in our home and the love just flows.

Violet and her new sibling "Baby". This was Baby's 2nd day in our home and the love just flows.

Our kiddos also do everything together. They wake up and have porridge in the morning and walk to school together. A staff member cooks them lunch every day and walks it up to school to feed them, so they all sit together under a tree and have lunch. After school they walk home together, play in the yard a bit, bathe and prepare for dinner. Dinner is at 6:30 and then they sit together and do schoolwork until bedtime.

On Sunday nights they have a weekly meeting that is just the kids. They voted in a Chairman, a Secretary, and a Vice Chairman. The Secretary actually takes minutes of the meeting each week and they give them to our manager Jane. The minutes consist of things like someone taking someone else’s toy or another person not keeping their area clean. It is actually pretty hilarious, but they have been doing it every week for the last 3 years and take it very seriously.

It is so true that love begets love and the more we give our kiddos the more they give to others. This is not to say that they don’t fight sometimes or disagree on things. They are siblings and if you have siblings of your own then you know exactly what that means. They know each other better than anyone else and are there for each other. They know each other’s quirks and fears and will often protect each other when needed without hesitation. They share in each other’s triumphs and pain. The love between them is a bond that cannot be broken. It is a beautiful little family and I am thankful to even be a small part of that.

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My Sweet Boy is All Grown Up, Well Almost

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My Sweet Boy is All Grown Up, Well Almost

Our sweet little guy Clinton is all grown up . . .well almost.  Clinton was the youngest kiddo at our JCO Children’s Home in Kenya up until a few months ago and it has been a bit of an adjustment for everyone. On my last few trips I have noticed that he is definitely getting bigger, just not as big as he thinks he is. You see, he is the youngest of 5 boys that play together every day and he tries really hard to be just as tough as them and hold his own. Sometimes he battles with this though because he also likes being babied a bit and no one does that for him more than me.

Clinton moved in with us when he was 18 months old, after a pretty traumatic start in life. We found him and his brother Austin in really bad shape.  They each had malaria and were suffering from both severe malnutrition and dehydration. The doctors told us that they would have only lived 24-48 hours longer without intensive treatment. I thank GOD everyday that we found them when we did.  After almost 3 weeks in the hospital they moved into our home. I am sure it was a little overwhelming to move into a new home and have people more or less fighting to hold Clinton when, to that point, he had not had much affection or physical contact in his life. Myself, the staff and all of our girls snuggled that boy all day everyday and he let us.

My sweet one fast asleep on me, this is about 2 weeks after moving in with us in 2011.

My sweet one fast asleep on me, this is about 2 weeks after moving in with us in 2011.

Snuggling with his new "sister" Sheryl in 2011

Snuggling with his new "sister" Sheryl in 2011

While his brother Austin was quick to giggle and just a jolly little guy, Clinton was reserved for awhile and did not smile or cry much at all at first. He just let us all hold him, feed him and care for him, but he just observed it all as if he was not quite sure what to make of it yet. Then one day I tickled him and made a silly face and he smiled! It was one of the happiest days of my life. From that day on he seemed to feel really free to express himself in every way possible.

The first year that we had him his moods were drastic, as toddlers usually are, and his experiences as a baby made it all the more intense. He would giggle and dance one minute and be screaming and throwing food the next. Our staff was overwhelmed to say the least. Everyone had gotten to the point that when he started yelling they just gave him whatever he wanted to stop the screaming. Trust me, this little guy has some lungs on him.

I came to visit again after a few months and saw this and introduced the concept of a “time out” to the staff and they thought I was crazy. Mathe (my partner) also advised them to put him in time out in the other room and let him yell all he wants. We showed them how to do it and the first few times he would yell louder for a bit, but then with consistency and patience on the staff’s part we were able to teach him that this was not the way to get what he wanted. And slowly but surely he began to change.

My husband Boo and Clinton, having a moment.

My husband Boo and Clinton, having a moment.

From that point on he was the baby in every way. Everyone spoiled him and he loved it. Over the years he has grown into a really cute little guy that has quite a lot of spunk and confidence. He is really tough as well, most of the time anyway. The staff informed me years ago that all of the kids, including sweet Clinton, seemed to cry a lot louder when I was around. I am a little over the top when it comes to snuggling, drying tears, rushing into the rescue to kiss boo boos, clean cuts and I always have really cool band-aids with superheroes and princesses on them to boot. So even though I know it doesn’t hurt as bad as their yells might suggest, I love being the person that does this for them. My mom was that person for me, the person to comfort me tons and make it all better. These kiddos have not had much of that in their lives and a lot of that is due to cultural differences, but I think all humans need to be comforted like that sometimes. It just feels good, even if it is over the top.

This last time that I went Clinton seemed all grown up.  He no longer crawled up in my lap (just because) or wanted to snuggle when he was tired. He is now six years old and in his mind at least, he’s really big. So I reluctantly gave him the space he needed and didn’t try to snuggle too much or give him too many kisses. The older boys were watching and he was “big” now. However, about a week into my visit I heard a familiar cry—a very loud one at that, and I rushed around the back of the house to rescue my cutie. He had hurt his knee and it was not bad at all, but I think he just needed some snuggles and I was so happy to oblige. He sat in my lap and let me snuggle him for almost 45 minutes and I was in heaven. The same thing happened a few other times on my trip and even though I hate it when he gets hurt, I am happy that he still needs me a bit.

At the end of my trip we got two new girls, Christine (aka Baby) who is 3 years old and her sister Pamela who is 12. “Baby” became the new baby of the crew and is now the one getting spoiled at every turn by the staff and all the other kids.  I am sure it has taken a little adjusting for Clinton, but he will be fine.  He is still beloved by everyone in that house. He is doing great in Daycare and his teacher Monica tells me he is a very bright little guy. In January he is to start first grade and I am so proud but will definitely be a mess the day he goes—a bittersweet feeling I think most parents experience.

It has been such a gift to know him, love him, and see him grow from such a young age. I still remember the day we found him in 2011 when I had to strap him to my belly for the 45 minute dirt bike ride to the hospital. He snuggled right up to me and his big brown eyes just looking at me wondering “who is this person” and “why does her skin look like that?” I will never forget sitting with him on my lap for hours in the hospital, waiting for doctors and snuggling him while he got his blood drawn. He didn’t want to eat, that was until I gave him his first taste of strawberry yogurt. We could only communicate through our facial expressions and snuggles. I remember sitting in the hot and chaotic District Hospital for hours without food or water, but it didn’t seem to bother me. This little guy was my whole world for that day and I thank GOD so much for bringing us together and helping him to survive. Over the years he has spent hours sleeping on me and giggling with me and we have a bond that is laid down in stone. He is a part of me and I am a part of him and although our relationship must change as his needs do, it is still hard to let go of what was. All of my hopes for him have come true.  He is happy, healthy, strong, and bright and I am excited to see the young man he will become. I just have to accept it and be thankful because my sweet little baby is (at least according to him) all grown up.

Look how much Clinton has grown! The first photo is after he had been with us a few weeks and the one below it was taken this February. 

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Dream Big Little Ones

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Dream Big Little Ones

 

Children amaze me. No matter where they live, what culture, race, or nation they’re from, they all naturally have a sense of wonderment about our world that we should all be learning from. They notice things that adults miss. For them everything is new.  Nothing is too small or insignificant to be fascinating. Just being around children and watching them interact with the world can be so inspiring.  They are not yet afraid to dream big.

However, children’s innocence and sense of wonderment is all too often compromised or stolen altogether when they are made to live in fear or do not feel safe. Or if they are malnourished or extremely sick, their interaction with the world is minimized because how bad they feel.  And of course any child that has suffered the loss of a parent or two needs so much love, support, and healing before they can regain that essential sense of curiosity and awe.

The loss of a parent, a lack of safety, crippling fear, and illness are all detrimental to children in the present but can continue to affect and shape them into the future. All of our children living in JCO Children’s Home have at some point experienced some of these unfortunate things before coming to live with us. Some have very serious chronic issues like HIV.  Many were malnourished with a variety of other health issues.  Many were neglected, some abused, and almost all of them have lost at least one parent.

Children need stability, love, and proper care. They need supervision, loving encouragement, and discipline. They need to feel safe so that they can dream big. Our home does not make these children the amazing people that they are—God did that.  But we try to remove the obstacles and dangers from their path (as much as humanly possible) and provide a solid foundation for them to be the best they can be and live up to their full potential.

They need a safe loving space to be who they are. They should not be worrying about food or water or shoes or their safety. They should get to just be, learn and experience the world—all the while knowing they are loved. Every child deserves that. While we cannot provide that for every child in the world, this is precisely what we strive to do for our 19 children living in our JCO Children’s Home.

The longer they are in our home, the bigger they dream. I love asking each child about their goals, hopes, and dreams. It brings me so much joy.  You can see their eyes start to sparkle.  Many will then hesitate, almost afraid to speak it—afraid to aim so high. Then they tell you and the smile that follows is the most beautiful thing in the world.

One example is our sweet Cathy.  She moved in when she was 4 years old and is now in the 5th grade.  She is one of the top students in her class, reads above her grade level and speaks English really well. She has always been shy (except with her JCO Siblings), but her confidence has grown immensely. She knows she is smart and capable and she is quite happy about it. When I talk with her about her homework and her favorite subjects in school she becomes very happy. My favorite thing to do is ask her about her future, both her academic goals for the school year and what she wants to be when she grows up. Her smile will just melt your heart and it is in full force when she is dreaming big. Before she responds she looks all around smiling from ear to ear,  she giggles, and is hesitant to speak. It is as if so much hope and excitement is bottled up inside her but she is so shy that it is hard for her to say. But when she does, those eyes just light up and you know this little one will change the world.

Our Sweet Cathy Feb. 2016

Our Sweet Cathy Feb. 2016

Another example is our oldest kiddo, Juma.  He is now in Form 4 (Senior in High School) and will be graduating in December. He moved in with us in January of 2012, the beginning of his 8th grade year. The Principal of the Primary School told us about him and how he was an exceedingly bright and driven young man, but that he was coming from an extremely impoverished home.  When he arrived at the JCO he came with the clothes on his back, his school uniform and he did not even own a pair of shoes.  That evening we got to have our first (of many) conversations about his future. I was asking him about school and if he wanted to attend Secondary School (High School) the following year and of course he did. Then I asked him, “And then?” “What do you want to do after Secondary?” “What do you want to be when you grow up?” He stopped and looked at me with so much intensity, confidence, and surprise—all at once—it was as if he had been waiting his whole life for someone to ask him that question. He told me very confidently that he wanted to attend University and be an engineer. He knew exactly what he wanted and had clearly spent a lot of time planning and dreaming about it.

Juma inspires us all

Juma inspires us all

I was so impressed with him because coming from the impoverished situation that he was in, there wasn’t any reason to have much hope that there would ever be money for Secondary School, let alone a University.  Despite that, he dreamed, and dreamed big I might add. Seeing that sparkle in his eye is amazing. Since then he has matured into an incredible young man, excelling in school and dreaming bigger than ever! It is such a joy to see him develop and reach his potential! Nothing brings me more joy than just to sit and listen to him tell me about the world according to Juma. We sit and talk for hours, he inspires me every single time I speak to him.

Our sweet Edwin was beaming the last time I was in Kenya, telling me he wants to be an “airplane” when he grows up—he meant pilot of course, but the mistake was too cute not to mention. He has also improved a lot in his reading since the last time I came, so he was excited to read a book to me to show me how far he had come.  

Edwin was so proud to read this book. He did such a good job.

Edwin was so proud to read this book. He did such a good job.

Every single one of our kiddos has some kind of ambition and hope in them. I love to just ask them what they want to do or how they see their future and then just sit back and watch that excitement in their eyes.  Helping to give them what they need to feel confident and opening up that door of imagination is giving them roots and giving them wings. And what a blessing it is to watch them soar…

 

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The Virtue of Restoring Humanity: Quality vs. Quantity

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The Virtue of Restoring Humanity: Quality vs. Quantity

The Virtue of Restoring Humanity: Quality vs. Quantity

By Herbert Lee “Boo” Buchanan

 

Since 2006 a lot of wonderful people from many different cultures have collaborated on a variety of worthy projects to help make our world a better place in the name of Restore Humanity (RH).  This September will mark RH’s 10-year anniversary and I couldn’t be more grateful to find myself living a life (happily married to RH founder and CEO, Sarah Fennel) that is to a significant degree, organized around the work we’re doing.  In fact, I love it.  A lot.

Sammie and Boo

Sammie and Boo

I am usually only asked to edit or co-author so what you’re presently reading represents my first solo contribution to the RH blog.  What I want to talk about is an idea that animates our organization and is reflected in the nature of our projects but is unfortunately not always well understood.  When it comes to caring for children in need we believe in focusing our attention and resources on providing exceptional care for a few rather than providing a marginal—but not insignificant amount of help to a great many.  Many commendable organizations focus their efforts on feeding, clothing, and providing medical care to as many people as possible.  This type of work is as awesome as it is necessary.  Life is precious but also (to varying degrees) very difficult.  Anything we can do to help one another or improve each other’s quality of life is surely worth doing.  However, in my attempt to explain the virtue of our principal project focusing on just 19 kids (the JCO Children’s Center) I’ll begin by directing your attention to RH’s core values.  You will hopefully notice that the very first one is a somewhat idiosyncratic, if not suspiciously assertive, version of the Golden Rule.  It reads as follows:

Golden Rule:  We treat others the way we want to be treated.  This means avoiding sensationalizing and perpetuating misconceptions and negative or clichéd stereotypes.  The best way to restore and preserve humanity is to treat the people we serve with the dignity and respect we would want shown to us if we were similarly situated.  Being compassionate requires empathy and kindness—not pity. 

If I were a kid who had suffered familial tragedy—let’s say the loss of one or both parents, then I would want someone to take care of me.  I would want to grow up in a safe environment that kept me well nourished with a consistent and healthy diet.  I would want access to healthcare whenever and to whatever extent needed, and to be aided and encouraged in my pursuit of the best education I could possibly attain.  Perhaps most of all, I would want to love and be loved in return.  Under this horrible circumstance I would want all of these things for myself.  And while I may or may not know you personally I’d venture a (not so) wild guess that you, if similarly situated, would want all of these things for yourself as well.  Thanks to the generosity of our donors and the prodigious efforts of my wife and our friend/partner/Kenyan mother Mrs. Opot (and many others besides) we find ourselves with both the means and opportunity to provide all these things for our kiddos.  Their needs however, are not hypothetical and empathy is the *only* motive we need to meet them. 

Prior to starting RH Sarah spent several months volunteering in a children’s home in South Africa and visited another in Kenya.  She witnessed first hand the good, bad, and ugly of various institutional efforts to take care of large numbers of children.  She saw that good intentions weren’t necessarily always enough, as there can unfortunately be dire consequences for the kids when compassion isn’t accompanied by competence or when resources and personnel are in staggeringly short supply.  The gaining of these particular insights took an emotional toll on Sarah but proved profoundly useful once she and Mrs. Opot agreed to create a children’s home of their own. With it being named after Mrs. Opot’s late husband (James Christopher Opot) it was decided that the JCO Children’s Center would be run efficiently as an institution but would need to feel to its occupants like home—like a family.  The amount of land available, the size of the building they wanted to build on it, the amount of staff required to reliably maintain it and take care of all the kids in it around the clock, as well as the multitude of resources required (attentional, financial, emotional, intellectual etc.) to keep the whole project ongoing once started were of course all major considerations regarding how to proceed, but mainly it came down to one question: how many kids could we have at the JCO and still have it feel like a home?  They started out with just 10 kids initially but decided that 20-ish would be the maximum.

There is an encyclopedic body of research strongly suggesting that healthy cognitive and emotional development (the kind YOU as a loving parent would want for your own children) depends largely on the quality and consistency of a child’s familial relationships.  Having visited the JCO on three separate occasions I can tell you that our kiddos are extremely close with one another.  They intuitively understand and instinctively appreciate one another in a way that only someone who has also suffered tragedy can—and yet they’re also happy in the way kids should be happy before they become burdened with all the obligations and responsibilities that (irritatingly) come along with becoming an adult. They go to school together in the morning, they play games with each other in the afternoon when they return home, and they help each other with their homework at night before they go to bed. They share a strong solidarity that’s further cultivated by the outstanding and attentive staff that feeds them three square meals a day, washes their clothes, and keeps them safe while they sleep.  That’s not to say that everything is perfect or that they always get along because it’s not and they don’t.  They fight.  Sometimes they fight a lot...but they tend to do so when one of the younger boys takes a toy that perhaps doesn’t belong to him or when someone cheats while playing UNO or Candyland—and that’s my point.  They fight, not as orphans concerned about whether or not food and space to sleep will somehow become scarce, but rather as siblings in the same loving family in a shared household led by (more or less) the same responsible parental figures during the entirety of their childhood and adolescent experience at the JCO.  There is a threshold number of kids beyond which there would be both a diminishment in the household’s camaraderie and a compromising of the staff’s ability to form the kind of close-knit relationships with our kiddos that they presently enjoy.  It is our considered opinion that more than 20-ish kids represents that threshold for us and so under 20-ish kids we will stay. 

Evans (middle) shows John (right) and Austin (left) how to put together a difficult puzzle.

Evans (middle) shows John (right) and Austin (left) how to put together a difficult puzzle.

Survival is generally a good thing and if you can help other people survive that’s even better but the key to understanding what we’re doing at the JCO Children’s Center is to wrap your head around the fact that merely surviving is just not the same thing as thriving.  We want our kids to thrive just like you or anyone else would want their kids to thrive.  Our oldest kid Jerim was the first to graduate high school and is presently being sponsored through our RH Scholars program to attend the best university in Nairobi.  He is an impressively enthusiastic student of International Business and has a G.P.A of 3.6.  Vincent, a young man who didn’t live at the JCO but whom we helped through our outreach program to get him through high school is another student we’ve sponsored via our RH Scholars program.  He’s attending the University of Arkansas and is studying to be a civil engineer.  And there are more bright young minds where they came from primed to follow in their footsteps.  Without being coached at all, many of them have expressed some desire (with varying degrees of ambition) to improve their community and the world at large.  Sirembe is a place devoid of electricity, paved roads, and running water.  What do you suppose the impact of producing its own successful businessman and civil engineer will be when both of them have such strong civic and philanthropic energy and motivation?  What if Juma, who by all accounts is a Rhodes Scholar-in-waiting, becomes a brilliant scientist?  What if Violet becomes a gifted surgeon and Pamela a formidable lawyer?  They’ve all got the potential to do great things in this life but those things are best facilitated by these kids receiving the kind of love, support, and structure that allows and encourages them to become the best version of themselves—and that my friends is the reason why we choose to focus primarily on the quality of the care we give.  The numbers may look small on paper now but to truly appreciate the merit of our philosophy you have to take the long view before you can understand the impact we’ll have on the communities we’re serving.

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Don't Sweat the Small Stuff-- A Lesson from Kenya

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Don't Sweat the Small Stuff-- A Lesson from Kenya

 Yala Market-- A nearby local weekly market

 Yala Market-- A nearby local weekly market

Don’t sweat the small stuff—a lesson from Kenya

 

I just returned from an amazing month in Kenya. It takes some time for my brain and body to transition. It is not just the 9-hour time difference or the changing of continents and hemispheres—it is the changing of culture and pace of life that needs a bit of a transition.

We just move so fast on this side of the world and since I am naturally impatient I usually appreciate this fact. However, being totally unplugged for a month does wonders for me. Being in a village that you can only reach on 45 minutes of dirt roads coming from any direction and staying at a place with no electricity and no running water helps to remind me what is important in life.

What I mean by that is, here in the US, we are so spoiled with so many things and infrastructure is one of them. Do not get me wrong, I love my shower, my refrigerator, my television, my computer, my internet, Netflix, and most of all using my toilet inside my house. However having these things at my fingertips on a constant basis makes me take them for granted. Being grateful for everything is very important, but that is not the biggest issue here. I find that we here in the US tend to lose our minds over any one of these things breaking or not being available even temporarily. We grunt, groan, and curse wondering how we could be so unlucky for this to happen “today of all days”. I say this because I do the same thing. We think we have some control over pipes breaking or lines being down or fill in the blank…

In Sirembe village in Kenya you just roll with it. What else can you do? If it rains too hard, there is too much mud and you just can’t go anywhere, period. You wait until the road dries and then carry on. If that makes you 3 hours late to a meeting, they will understand. If the water being piped near you has a malfunction that takes 4 months to get money to fix, then you just deal with it, you find another way. If your car breaks down on a village road and it takes 4 or 5 hours to fix and there is no where to go you just have to be patient and wait. If you go to the bank on a busy day and you have to wait 5 hours, you just do.

People there do not complain about things like this, this is just life. Having spent years of my life in Kenya at this point, I have dealt with all of these things and just learned to be patient. I mean you can get upset, but it doesn’t change anything. It just makes it worse because now you are stressed for no reason.

We here in the US should take some lessons from this. While I am so thankful, as we all should be, that essentially having a great infrastructure makes many of these things much easier for us. That even when there is a malfunction it is usually fixed immediately. I think we would all be a lot less stressed if we gave up the illusion that we have control over any of it. I know it feels like we do when things are running smoothly—but that is not reality. Things will change and things will malfunction, both big and small. If we can really just appreciate what we have and just accept the bumps in the road we would be much happier for it.

All of these things make life easier, but they are not necessary and they are not what you need to live a happy and fulfilling life. They are the small things. So let’s be grateful for them, but also see them for what they are—the small stuff. Life is easier because of them, but not richer. So just do what you can and the rest will work itself out. Practice gratitude, relax with what is and just roll with it—it will all work out.

Sitting outside our children's home watching a storm roll in.

Sitting outside our children's home watching a storm roll in.

 

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“Ayieng Maber”—I am Full

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“Ayieng Maber”—I am Full

Me and one of the new members of our family, Christine a.k.a. "Baby". She and her sister Pamela moved in at the beginning of February. 

Me and one of the new members of our family, Christine a.k.a. "Baby". She and her sister Pamela moved in at the beginning of February. 

“Ayieng Maber”—I am Full

 

I have been traveling to Kenya, usually twice a year for the past nine years—but this trip felt so much different. It is always wonderfully rich, full of good and bad experiences and many lessons worth learning. However, as I reflect on the past month what comes to mind is “ayieng maber” which is Luo for “I am full” or “I am satisfied”. Luo is the tribal language that they speak in Sirembe and I find when I am there long enough I begin to describe my feelings in a way that would make sense there.

Now you would hear that most often after someone has finished eating, but it is used for other things. In this particular instance what I mean to say is that my heart feels full to the brim. Full of love, full of joy, full of hope, full of peace, full of faith, full of gratitude—Ayieng maber.

Something has shifted in me and I was able to see and feel things so much clearer. For the past month love has just flowed so freely from me to others and others to me. It was so clear to me just how much love these children have for each other and how we have created a real family at our Children’s Home (more on this in a later blog). It is not that all of this was not there before, but this time I was really present, tuned in and I felt more deeply connected to everyone.

Sheryl And Pamela, love these ladies

Sheryl And Pamela, love these ladies

 Violet and Cathy, beautiful ladies.

 Violet and Cathy, beautiful ladies.

Everywhere I went people were congratulating me on my marriage. In fact, the Sirembe Secondary School put together a huge surprise celebration for me to say thank you for what Restore Humanity has done and to congratulate me on getting married. The speeches that people gave were genuine and full of so much love. Teachers, the Principal, School Board members and even the Chief talked about how they first met me or heard about the work we were doing. There were gifts, music, dancing, and of course delicious food. It was beautiful and totally overwhelming at first, but then I just felt humbled and so grateful.

Most days I spent my mornings doing yoga, reading, journaling, and doing administrative stuff for our projects. The afternoons I spent down at our children’s home with the kiddos. We watched movies, colored, read stories, played football and laughed for hours making “slo-mo” videos on my phone. In the evening I would head up to Mathe’s house (Mrs. Opot, my partner, mentor, and Kenyan mother) bathe out of my basin and have dinner with Mathe and my best friend in Kenya—Nyarkisumu (aka Christine). We would eat, “beat stories” (as they say in Kenya, it just means telling stories), and usually dance to some Kenyan songs on the radio. Each day was a gift and full of so much joy.

My Partner Mrs. Opot a.k.a. "Mathe". Love this woman!

My Partner Mrs. Opot a.k.a. "Mathe". Love this woman!

In addition to all of this we got to help pay school fees for 44 local children, go shopping for 3 of our kiddos that are starting High School and we admitted two new amazing little girls to our home—we now have 19 kiddos! I also visited the Maternity Ward that we helped build last year to find that nearly 100 healthy babies have been born since we opened. There has not been one death! How amazing is that? As they say in Sirembe—“Nyasaye Ber”—God is good. I look forward to sharing all of the stories from this amazing trip with you. Stay tuned…

 

"Baby's" big sister Pamela, another new member of our family.

"Baby's" big sister Pamela, another new member of our family.

Happy happy ladies, what a blessing.

Happy happy ladies, what a blessing.


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Restore Humanity Year-End Updates 2015

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Restore Humanity Year-End Updates 2015

Restore Humanity in 2015


It has been a really great year here at Restore Humanity and we have all of you generous donors to thank for that! As we finish out the year we would like to send you a quick summary of what we (that includes you) have accomplished! 

JCO Children's Center:
The picture above was taken of our group of amazing little humans this summer. Those smiles are the gas in the tank for us. It is such a joy to do right by those sweet kiddos. They deserve a full and happy life and we strive each day to give that to them. 
All 17 of them are happy and healthy. They are all progressing in school. As with any child there are ups and downs, but overall each one of them is doing great. Thank you for your help in caring for these awesome kiddos. 


Maternity Ward:
As most of you know we helped the local clinic in Sirembe (the Sirembe Dispensary) get a Maternity Ward built, thanks to some amazing donors! This was such a worthwhile project and we are so happy to have completed it! The first baby was born on March 26th, 2015, his name is Titus Omondi and he is pictured below. On behalf of Titus, his mother, and the countless others that will benefit from this for years to come, we thank you.

 

Titus at 3 months old. What a cutie!

Titus at 3 months old. What a cutie!

RH Scholars Program:

Moses Vincent Agare, our first Scholar has really matured and made some great progress this year! His final semester at NWACC this fall he got three A’s and one B. It is worth mentioning that his B was an 89.4%. Needless to say we were very proud! In the photo below he is addressing Restore Humanity Supporters at our Wine Dinner at Bordinos.

Jerrym Molla, was one of the first kids that moved into our Children’s Home in 2010 and he is now our second RH Scholar. He is attending a University in Nairobi, studying International Business and he is thriving. His cumulative G.P.A. is 3.4. We are very proud. Thank you to everyone that supported this wonderful program this year!

Outreach Program:

This is our all-encompassing program to provide assistance for other children in need in the Sirembe community. We do this in a variety of ways:

1-We pay school fees for children in need of assistance. In 2015 we helped 13 children (not living in our home) with school fees, that included both Primary and Secondary school assistance. For 2016 we have stepped up our game and have already raised the funds to send 22 Secondary School girls to school and we will continue to add to that as the year continues!

2-We have a monthly Maxi-Pad program that benefits around 200 girls each month. 

3-This year students at Fayetteville High School raised $3,400 to help Sirembe Secondary School build a much needed girl's dormitory. This was enough to lay the entire foundation for the building and they just keep on going! Helping their peers across the globe! Great job FHS!

4-We have a Daycare Center that sits in the same compound as our Children's Home. "Teacher Monica" had around 25 little bitty students from the surrounding area this year and they are all doing quite well. Our two youngest children at JCO Children's Home, Clinton and Austin, attend there as well. Here are some photos taken this summer.

Thank you for all of your support and there is still time to donate to receive tax-deduction for 2015. Help us continue all of these worthy projects and donate today! Every lit bit counts!

Donate here.

 

Have A Happy & Healthy 2016!

 

With Love & Gratitude,

The Restore Humanity Global Team

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Help us Educate 20 Girls in 2016

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Help us Educate 20 Girls in 2016

A Quote from a Sirembe Secondary School Student on the door of the girls temporary dormitory at school. An awesome revamp of "You snooze you lose"

A Quote from a Sirembe Secondary School Student on the door of the girls temporary dormitory at school. An awesome revamp of "You snooze you lose"

As you can see in the photo above these girls are at Sirembe Secondary School to work. They are in school to overcome societal myths that say "girls are not as smart as boys" or "girls are not a good investment", but most importantly they are here to realize their dreams and ensure a bright future for themselves and their families.

These young women wake up before 5am each morning to begin their day. Their entire day is focused on their studies and if you ask each and every one of them, there is no place they would rather be. They value their education in a way that I do not see here in the US. The problem is that many of their families do not have the money it takes to pay the fees. That is where YOU come in. 

The Kenyan school year begins in January, we want to raise $5000 by January 1st to help 20 girls go to school! The cost of a full year of school including a full year of boarding at school (food and shelter), and their required uniform is $500. Many families can pay part of that, but they need additional help to keep these bright young minds in school. 

In our Restore Humanity Outreach Program we usually pay a partial scholarship for each student, and will provide a full scholarship for those in the most dire of circumstances.  The government provides partial funding for secondary students and we have found that encouraging the family to pitch in how they can makes this a real investment for everyone involved. However, there are cases where the family literally has nothing to give, in those cases we cover more, if not all.

 

We want to give 20 partial scholarships to girls at Sirembe Secondary School for 2016! 

Consider donating a one-time gift of $500 for two girls or $250 for one.

You could also sign up for a monthly recurring payment of $20 per month ( annual total $250 or one educated girl) or $40 per month (annual total is $500 or 2 educated girls).

Need a great gift idea? How about educating a girl in Kenya? 

DONATE HERE

Violet lives at our JCO Chldren's Center and is at the top of her class and Rose is one of our Outreach Girls! These girls are working hard to succeed! Girl Power!

Violet lives at our JCO Chldren's Center and is at the top of her class and Rose is one of our Outreach Girls! These girls are working hard to succeed! Girl Power!

These young women are hungry for education and for a chance to realize their dreams. In fact the first year that girls were allowed to board at Sirembe Secondary School (2014) they averaged higher than the boys for the first time ever! Those amazing women worked so hard to drown out the doubters and naysayers and show everyone just what they were made of! 

Some of the inspiring young women from that 2014 class that defied the odds and beat the boys!

Some of the inspiring young women from that 2014 class that defied the odds and beat the boys!

Join us to help these amazing young women realize their dreams! Donate today!

HELP US RAISE $5000 by January 1st!

 

Do you need more reasons to educate a girl? Check out these stats from a recent UNESCO report:

The education of girls and women can lead to a wide range of benefits – from improved maternal health, reduced infant mortality and fertility rates to increased prevention against HIV and AIDS.

More educated mothers are more likely to know that HIV can be transmitted by breastfeeding, and that the risk of mother-to-child transmission can be reduced by taking drugs during pregnancy.

An extra year of female schooling reduces fertility rates by 10%, according to the World Bank.

In Mali, women with secondary or higher level of education have an average of 3 children, while those with no education have an average of 7 children.30

In Burkina Faso, mothers with secondary education are twice as likely to give birth in health facilities as those with no education

Each extra year of a mother’s schooling reduces the probability of infant mortality by 5% to 10%.

Children of mothers with secondary education or higher are twice as likely to survive beyond age 5 compared to those whose mothers have no education. 

Improvements in women’s education explained half of the reduction in child deaths between 1990 and 2009. 

A child born to a mother who can read is 50% more likely to survive past age 5.35

In sub-Saharan Africa, an estimated 1.8 million children’s lives could have been saved in 2008 if their mothers had at least a secondary education.

Wages, agricultural income and productivity – all critical for reducing poverty – are higher where women involved in agriculture receive a better education. 

Each additional year of schooling beyond primary offers greater payoffs for improved opportunities, options and outcomes for girls and women.

 

Thank you for your support--

The Restore Humanity Global Team

 

Vivian is one of our Outreach Girls, she was in 9th grade this year and worked hard every day !

Vivian is one of our Outreach Girls, she was in 9th grade this year and worked hard every day !

Mercy was one of our Outreach Girls and was in 9th grade this year, she was at the top of her class!

Mercy was one of our Outreach Girls and was in 9th grade this year, she was at the top of her class!


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WORLD AIDS DAY & GIVING TUESDAY –It is a Sign

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WORLD AIDS DAY & GIVING TUESDAY –It is a Sign

WORLD AIDS DAY & GIVING TUESDAY –It is a Sign

 

My first real encounter with World AIDS Day was 10 years ago while I was volunteering in South Africa. I attended a World AIDS Day candlelight vigil with an inspiring group of children that had taught me so much in the months leading up to this. Hospice nurses ran this support group for these children (ages 4-16) who were either infected with HIV/AIDS themselves or affected somehow, usually by losing a family member to the disease. They sang songs and performed a play for their community. After their performance we all prayed and stood holding our candles in silence, remembering those who have lost their lives to this deadly disease. I remember looking at their young faces as they held the candles and thought about the loved ones that they had lost—even as I think about it today I am overwhelmed with so much emotion.

Since that moment I have met countless other children both in South Africa and Kenya whose lives have been destroyed by this disease. Three children that I love as my own live in our JCO Children’s Home were born with HIV. In fact every single child in our JCO Children’s Home has been affected in one way or another, many of them losing their parents to the disease, which is how they ended up with us in the first place.  The three children that are HIV+ came from different families, but all three of them came to us in pretty bad shape. Their caregivers at the time were aware that they were infected and had tried to get them some kind of treatment, but were not able to get them everything that they needed.

HIV treatment is available, but it is a very strict regimen.  One must take pretty high-powered drugs every 12 hours on the dot. Missing even one dose can be really dangerous especially for little ones. It is also essential that anyone receiving treatment is given 3 highly nutritious and well-balanced meals each day to keep their bodies strong enough to handle the disease and the treatment.  Another crucial part of their care is very regular doctor visits to ensure their immune systems are functioning and to figure out the specific “cocktail” of drugs that work for each individual. All of this is extremely difficult for an impoverished family to manage and as a result our kiddos were struggling.

The good news is that now all three of them are doing really well! Their health is better than ever, they are growing strong and doing well in school. If you met all of our children now, you would have no idea who is infected and who isn’t. Our staff at JCO does such a wonderful job at keeping them on their strict regimens, taking them to the doctor every few weeks and taking note of even a runny nose because it could indicate their immune system is not in good shape. We are so thankful that they are doing well and pray each day that it continues.

We also pray for a cure. For our kiddos and others on the current ARV regimens that treatment can add 15-20 years to their lives and we are hoping that within that time frame that a real and lasting cure is found. I am encouraged with all of the progress that has been made in recent years and I have to believe that a cure is coming soon.

Since today is both Giving Tuesday and World AIDS Day we would like to ask you to donate any amount to Restore Humanity to help us do our part in the battle against this global epidemic.

I have explained why this disease is so near to my heart, but allow me to tell you some of the other ways we combat this disease:

1-Care for our HIV+ children in our JCO Children’s Home

2-We have an Outreach Program that provides scholarships to local high school students in Sirembe, so that they can get their education. Statistics prove that education is the single greatest weapon against HIV/AIDS especially in sub-Saharan Africa and most especially for girls. Every year that a girl stays in school her chances of getting HIV+ are drastically reduced.

3-Last year we partnered with the local clinic in Sirembe to build a Maternity Ward. One of the major goals of this facility is to encourage more women to get pre-natal care. If a HIV+ woman receives proper ARV treatment while pregnant it reduces the chance of transmission to the baby to almost nothing.

 We are working for prevention and care for those who are infected. Join us and help us fight this disease!

There are two ways YOU can help: CARE or PREVENTION.

Click here and donate any amount to support:

1-Our Children’s Home and help us continue to care for our kiddos.

Or

 2-Send a girl to high school for a year for $500 (That includes full boarding, uniform, tuition, and fees for an entire year)! If you can’t donate the full amount, just give what you can and we will put it towards an Outreach Scholarship.

 

With Love & Gratitude—

Sarah Fennel & The Restore Humanity Team

 

 

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Who is my Neighbor?

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Who is my Neighbor?

“Who is my Neighbor?”

 

Since I started Restore Humanity, there is a question that I have been asked more times than I can count. That question is “Why are you helping children in Kenya when there are children here in the US that need help?” While I understand the underlying thought process, it still always strikes me as such a strange question.

I could answer them by appealing to the magnitude of the need or explaining how the money we raise here goes such a long way there.  Or I could list the many awesome people and organizations that are working hard to build support systems for those in need in here in the US and how they don’t necessarily have counterparts in the rural area where we work in Kenya, but the truth is that the main reason why I do what I do is because I was given an amazing opportunity to really make a difference in some incredible children’s lives and I took it. 

What I want to address today is the problem with that question in the first place. By my lights, every human is important, every person from every race, religion, nationality, or tribe. Everyone, without exception. So it seems strange to me that someone would see a person helping another and wonder—Why are you helping that person, when you should be helping this person? A child in need is a child in need.

While Restore Humanity is not a Faith-Based Organization, I, myself am a person of faith. The Golden Rule is something that I take very seriously and quite literally. “Love your neighbor as you love yourself” is first said in Leviticus and then Christ applies the concept in the wonderful parable of the “Good Samaritan” (Luke 10: 25-37)

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

 

What I find fascinating about this story is that Christ uses a Samaritan to be the hero. Samaritans and Jews were historically enemies and did not generally share very positive views about each other. The fact that the first two people in the story walked by their Jewish brother and did not help him says a lot, especially considering one was a Levite (from the priestly tribe) and the other a Priest, two people that would be assumed to be following the "Law" and would be considered this man's "neighbor" in the strictest sense of the word. The Samaritan was just a good person that showed love and mercy in the moment it was most needed. He goes above and beyond to help another human, despite societal norms. What I take from this is that we are to do whatever we can for each other—that means every person regardless of our national borders, tribal affiliations or personal hang-ups.

For the record, if I could help every single child in need in the entire world believe me I would. I was just given an opportunity to help these children in Kenya and I took it. I am so thankful for our Restore Humanity family that supports us, and grateful that so many people share our conviction that even if we make a difference in even one life—that is what is important.

And while many people that support Restore Humanity do not share my specific beliefs about everything, we do share some core values—that every one matters and you should just help whomever you can whenever you can. Period. You do what you can to make the world better. One planet. One People. One Purpose.

And who is my neighbor? Everyone.

 

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Full of Gratitude

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Full of Gratitude

 

On October 9th we had our best Winetopia fundraiser to date! With the help of so many awesome individuals and businesses we raised $63,000! It was a beautiful October evening and Pratt Place Barn was even more so. As soon as we opened the doors our amazing guests came pouring in and set about at enjoying the tables of beer and wine all provided by Glazers Distributing and enjoying some of the best cuisine that this area has to offer. As I walked through the barn getting hugs at every corner I could just feel the joy and generosity exuding from everyone. People taking fun photos in the Making Memories Photobooth, laughing with their friends, or just enjoying the sweet tunes coming from our DJ Matt Boles.

The Buzz Events lounge outside was even more spectacular than the year before, if you can believe it. And inside, my dad (a.k.a Carny in the Corner) had people winning big at the Wine Toss! We had pictures of our sweet kiddos all over the barn bringing the point home that all of the work and care that went into that night was oh so worth it. 

This community never ceases to amaze me! In the weeks leading up to the event there was just an outpouring of generosity from all over this community. So many people and businesses just wanted to do something and help however they could--people bought tickets, offered silent auction items, volunteered, helped spread the word, and donated. I was really moved at the goodness that I was seeing coming from all directions.

Below are some gorgeous photos of the night  taken by the one and only Cole Fennel Photography and please take a moment to look at this list of volunteers, sponsors, and silent auction donors that helped to make this night possible! 

 

Lots of Love & Gratitude,

Sarah Fennel

 

Winetopia Core Crew Volunteers

Chris Beavers—Auction Chair

Meredith Adkins—Volunteer Coordinator

Herbert “Boo” Buchanan—Event Coordinator (He “puts out fires”)

Joe Fennel—Carny In the Corner

Kristi Bachelor

Ellie Jones

Tanj Donovan

Jessy Lang

Alannah Massey

Adrienne Johnson

Jinny Lowe

Garrett “Vern” Gunderson

Michael Adkins

Chris Arcana

Chase Hayes

Hassan Huntley

Danielle Ryan

Tareneh Manning

Brooke McDonald

Allison Chilcote

Anna Marie Jarrett

Jean Ann Fennel

Warren Fyfe

Vincent Agare

Darrin Ingraham

Bartus Taylor & Buzz Events Crew

Glazers Crew

 

Honorary Hosts

Chris & Jeremy Beavers

Ben & Molly Blakeman

Martell Brown & Bethany Sewell

Abdi Dubed

Linley & Dave Dust

Chris Goddard & Bartus Taylor

Jen & John Lewis

Dr. Allyson & William Mertins

Dr. Lance & Tareneh Manning

Neal & Gina Pendergraft

Amy & Brent Robinson

 

 

Sponsors

 

Presenting Sponsor

Glazers Distributing

 

“Grape Crusher” Level Sponsor

Lucke Dental

Miller Boskus Lack

Blakeman’s Jewelry

Mertins Eye Care

 

“Planter” Level Sponsor

Quadrivium

FAC

 

Community Sponsors

Buzz Events

Pratt Place Inn & Barn

Intents

Eventures Party Rentals

Light Works Events

AV Designs

Arsagas

Showerfilter Store by NewMarket Naturals

Making Memories Photobooth

Cole Fennel Photography

 

Media Sponsors

Citiscapes Magazine

3W Magazine

Northwest Arkansas Democratic Gazette

 

Restaurant Sponsors

Bordinos

Cafe Rue Orleans

Farmers Table

Cardamom & Curry

Native Nectar

Mia Tarts

Fayetteville Pastry Shop

 

Silent Auction Donors

All Sports Production

AR State Beauty Supply

Arts Live Theatre

Big Star Lounge and Flying Burrito

Blakman's Fine Jewelry

Bordinos

Brandon & Britney Hurlbut

Brick By Brick

Chancellor

Chef Thomas from Tyson

Chris and Jeremy Beavers

Chuy's

Claudia Smith at Be Fit Studio

Closets to the Max

Clubhaus

Coach Darin Phelan

Cole Fennel Photography

Copper Pig

Country Outfitters

Crisp Studios

Dark Star Visuals

David & Candace Starling

Dickson Street Liquor

Dog Party USA

Dr. Brian Buell

Dr. Rebecca Lucke

East Side Grill

Elevate

Elevate

Ella Shelton

Fayettechill

Fayetteville Acupuncture

Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce

Feel Good Oils

Glo

Good Things

Goodwill Massage/Rebekah Champgne

Greg Dog Vintage Boutique

Gunderpickles

Heidi Brugliera

Hermans

Jennifer Lewis

Joyn

Joyn

Kathy Thompson

Liquor World

Liz Rusher

Lola Boutique

Manning House LLC

Marla Shaver

Masons

Maude

Mertins

Mia Tarts & More

Nitron

NWA Knockerball

Old World Imports

Onemanband

Ozark Escape

Pack Rat Outdoor Center

Pediatric Dental/Dr. Landers

Petra Café

Revive Medical Spa

Rhonda & Mailiah

Robin Devine

Robin Starr

Roblee Orthodontics

Roger Boskus

Romance Diamonds

Salon Bloom

Sara Kincaid & Jessica Phelan

Sarahndipity

Shindig Paperie

Showerfilter Store by Newmark Naturals

Speckled Pig

Spring Valley Anglers

Springdale Liquor Association

Sunshine Broder at Shine Salon

Susie Baker

Swim Ranch

Tareneh Manning @ Bassett Mix

Taylor Plastic Surgery

The Bike Route

The Independent

The Rainbow Lodge

Theo's

Trailside Yoga

WAC

Walker Bros.

Watson Custom Made

Westwood Gardens

WholeFoods

Yard Party- Jamey Sims

Yoga Deza

Right before we opened the doors...

Right before we opened the doors...

A peak at our Silent Auction

A peak at our Silent Auction

Joe Fennel, a.k.a. Carny in the Corner

Joe Fennel, a.k.a. Carny in the Corner

Treats from Fayetteville Pastry Shop

Treats from Fayetteville Pastry Shop

Buzz Events Lounge

Buzz Events Lounge

Buzz Events Lounge

Buzz Events Lounge

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Project #MamasandBabies is complete!

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Project #MamasandBabies is complete!

Titus Omondi--the first baby born in the facility!

Titus Omondi--the first baby born in the facility!

Meet Titus Omondi—the first baby to be born in the newly constructed Maternity Ward! He was born on March 26th of this year and this picture was taken at the beginning of July. A healthy baby to a healthy mama—does it get any better than that?

Let me back up a moment--early last year we decided to partner with the local clinic in Sirembe, Kenya. It is the same area that all of our projects are based in, as well as the clinic that our children and staff get treated when they are sick. The facility was also where many local women would go to deliver babies and while they did the best that they could with the resources available, it was not very conducive to a healthy delivery. There was no drainage in the room and there was no real separation between delivering mothers with newborns and the other sick patients at the clinic. Many of these sick patients have highly communicable diseases such as TB, which is particularly dangerous for people with compromised immune systems. This is absolutely the case for delivering mothers and their newborn babies. It was very clear that a proper facility was needed.

  At that time the local committee came together and decided what the needs were and had raised $12,000 from the Kenyan government. However, they needed an additional $25,000 to complete the construction that included a septic and drainage system. Our Restore Humanity Medical Committee (made up of local doctors and our Board of Directors) decided to step up and help out how we could.

We began raising funds and sent our first grant to them in April 2014. Each time we would send money we would send a Grant Agreement with it detailing what our money could be spent on. Their committee would report back to us with documentation and receipts of how the funds were spent and then we would send another grant when we had the funding. This went on for the next year and thanks to some very generous donors in Northwest Arkansas we raised the money needed to complete the project! During this time I was able to travel to Kenya twice to visit the site and see the progress.

Then at the end of March this year I got a call that the delivery room and septic system were finished and the first baby was born in our facility—Titus. It was a humbling moment to be sure, but not so much as when I got to meet Titus and his beautiful mother this July. They were both healthy and strong. We even got to give them a handmaid baby quilt with fleece lining to keep that cutie warm on cold nights.

That same day in July my fellow Board Member (and now fiancé) Herbert “Boo” Buchanan, Patrick Lumumba (a Key member of our Restore Humanity Team in Kenya) and I went to see the new facility. We were so lucky to get to meet a beautiful baby girl just a few hours old and her equally beautiful mother, Millicent.

Millicent and her beautiful and healthy baby girl.

Millicent and her beautiful and healthy baby girl.

What a gift life is and giving birth is such a miracle. It was such a blessing to be a part of making that experience better for Millicent and her sweet baby girl! Every woman deserves to have a safe and clean place to deliver with a qualified person to ensure safe delivery. We are so thankful to every single person that helped us accomplish this goal!

And this is what it is all about! A peaceful moment with a mother and child after a safe delivery! Love this photo!

And this is what it is all about! A peaceful moment with a mother and child after a safe delivery! Love this photo!

Another wonderful part about giving is that it inspires more giving! Due to the support that we gave this clinic the Kenyan government visited again, saw how much progress had been made and gave them an additional $3,000 for equipment and a local Kenyan non-profit gave them a delivery bed, a heart Doppler machine, and a microscope for a future lab!

Check out all of the photos below of the new facility and some of the essential Kenyan people that made it possible, namely the Clinical Officer Arthur Wamalwa that put in countless hours in planning, implementing, and reporting for this project--all the while running the rest of the facility! We could not have done it any of this without him!

A special thanks to the Chairman of our Medical Committee Dr. Scott Bailey and his wonderful wife Leslie—they opened their home and hearts to this project and got our entire community on board! You two are amazing!

The front of the Facility

The front of the Facility

Where our mothers will go through most of their labor until ready for delivery

Where our mothers will go through most of their labor until ready for delivery

One of our favorite nurses Caroline is in the blue and the man on the right is Arthur Wamalwa, the man that made this all possible!

One of our favorite nurses Caroline is in the blue and the man on the right is Arthur Wamalwa, the man that made this all possible!

Our RH Team member Patrick Lumumba who is also a mid-wife and it now helping to deliver healthy babies at the facility. He is here Millicent and her newborn girl.

Our RH Team member Patrick Lumumba who is also a mid-wife and it now helping to deliver healthy babies at the facility. He is here Millicent and her newborn girl.

The heart Doppler machine donating by an Kenyan non-profit

The heart Doppler machine donating by an Kenyan non-profit

The delivery room ! One of these beds was donated by a Kenyan non-profit.

The delivery room ! One of these beds was donated by a Kenyan non-profit.

Restore Humanity Board Member Herbert "Boo" Buchanan with the head of the Board of Directors for the local Clinic (Sirembe Dispensary) Peter Wanjawa.

Restore Humanity Board Member Herbert "Boo" Buchanan with the head of the Board of Directors for the local Clinic (Sirembe Dispensary) Peter Wanjawa.

 

 

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Love Will Find a Way--JCO Children's Home Turns 5!

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Love Will Find a Way--JCO Children's Home Turns 5!

Love Will Find a Way—JCO Children’s Home Turns 5!

My goodness things have changed. This week marks our 5 Year Anniversary of the JCO Children’s Home in Kenya! It was just five years ago that we opened our doors to 10 amazing kiddos and we are all forever changed. Since then we have added more children. Some of them have grown up and moved on, but most of them are still living with us and doing really well. They are an awesome bunch and we are so thankful to have them!

 I just recently returned from spending 5 weeks with our children in Kenya and I have been reflecting on how much has changed over the years.  I can’t think of anything more beautiful than seeing the progress these amazing kiddos have made. The changes have been really drastic and many of you know about their miraculous stories.  And although the changes in my perspective have been much more subtle, I still think that they are important to share.

 I started this journey charging full speed ahead because this is what was right, this was my purpose in life and I was going to get it done. However, at some point something in me shifted. This project went from being a “mission to accomplish” to becoming just a part of me. Our children and our team in Kenya are now a huge a part of my life, my family and feel like an extension of myself. I am honestly not sure what I ever did without them.

This time 5 years ago Mrs. Opot, Patrick, and I were deciding which children we could take, meeting them and learning their stories. We were also negotiating on the prices of bunk beds, buying pink and blue sheets, mattresses, pillows, cups, plates—all for the first ten kiddos that would live at our home. We were hiring and training staff and trying to plan for every little thing, but none of us knew what to expect when we opened our doors and created a new home. It was exciting, stressful, fulfilling, and it wore me out. 

Boys room at JCO August 2010

Boys room at JCO August 2010

Girls Room at JCO-- August 2010

Girls Room at JCO-- August 2010

A big part of that stress was from me trying to control every aspect of the situation, trying to find comfort in “covering all of my bases.” Don’t get me wrong, all of the details are extremely important and we must prepare as best we can. However, it is also just as important to recognize that when you are dealing with human beings there is only so much that you have control over.  This is a lesson that I imagine most parents learn and that is ok, that is just part of life.

This is where faith comes in, with a healthy dose of patience. These kiddos had been through so much and I instantly wanted to take away all of the pain and hurt and let the healing ensue. But, it doesn’t work that way. True healing takes time. It takes consistent love and encouragement, a true feeling of safety. There is no set amount of time, it is different for everyone and it is part of his or her journey. We just try our best to do everything that we can for them and then have faith that love will find a way…

Five years later, the healing continues for all of us. These 17 children are truly amazing. They have come so far—they are some of the bravest souls I have ever met. They inspire me beyond comprehension and at the same time, they are just children. They sometimes fight over toys and most of our boys abhor the idea of bathing. They love to play soccer, play drums, play UNO, color, watch movies, read books, wrestle in the yard and learn about new things. While they all have good days and bad there is an overall love for life and for each other in our home and I am so thankful. It has been the most incredible 5 years of my life and I look forward to the years to come! Thank you to each one of you in our global family for all of the love and support—we couldn’t do it without you!

 

With Love & Gratitude,

 

Sarah Fennel

Founder

Restore Humanity

August 4th, 2010 -- Day 3 of living at JCO--Our first ten kiddos with a few friends, including Vincent (Our RH Scholar right in the middle) 

August 4th, 2010 -- Day 3 of living at JCO--Our first ten kiddos with a few friends, including Vincent (Our RH Scholar right in the middle) 

July 2015-- These are the 17 current kiddos. Just look at those sweet faces! A pretty solid and confident little crew!

July 2015-- These are the 17 current kiddos. Just look at those sweet faces! A pretty solid and confident little crew!

 

 

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We Belong to Each Other

We Belong to Each Other

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other” – Mother Teresa

Sheryl and I

Sheryl and I

As I prepare to leave again for my second home in Kenya, I am struck by the oneness, the interconnectedness of us all--that everything that we do has consequences and leads to something else. This community here in Northwest Arkansas has been so supportive of Restore Humanity over the last 9 years and our support network grows seemingly by the day. Almost every thing that we have been able to do to provide assistance to those in need in Kenya has been the result of awesome people in this community donating whatever they can to help others.

It is not the result of the generosity of a few who are well off—it is the result of the generosity of the many who give what they can when they can. It is such an honor to be a part of it.  Our extremely hard-working Kenyan Team has put all of this generosity to good use and as a result lives have been changed for the better. With all of the negativity that we hear about and face everyday, it is so good to know that people do care and we all can make a difference.

We all belong to each other and I am honored to be a connecting piece between all of these wonderful humans. Thank you all on the Kenyan side and the U.S. side for all of your hard work and pure love for humanity. You have made all of this possible!

 On this trip I will be taking lots of photos of the newly completed Maternity Ward that we built at the local clinic ! I will also be checking in on our outreach program at the local school, checking on our RH Scholar, Jerrym, in Nairobi and of course spending hours upon hours with our sweet kiddos at the JCO Children’s Home. I will have lots of exciting blogs with updates when I return at the end of July. In the meantime you can follow me on Instagram and follow me on Facebook to join me on the journey!

Have a great summer and we will talk soon…

With gratitude,

Sarah Fennel

Sammie and Miriam, our Head House Mother

Sammie and Miriam, our Head House Mother

Christine and Wilfrieda, two awesome ladies that have worked at JCO since we opened in 2010, taking a break from work to chat.

Christine and Wilfrieda, two awesome ladies that have worked at JCO since we opened in 2010, taking a break from work to chat.

Our youngest little cutie Clinton.

Our youngest little cutie Clinton.

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