Dear Friends of Nyumbani,

Greetings to each one to-day, hoping that the New Year 2019 has begun happily and fruitfully for each one.

Christmas in our programs was a time of joyful celebration for those who remained with us in Nyumbani Home and Village. I believe that the various events planned for them: Sr. Julia’s vacation program in Nyumbani Home, special meals for those in Nyumbani Village made possible by Micato Safaris and Loreto Limuru Alumnae, as well as many visitors bringing gifts, comforted these children for whom the possibility of spending time over Christmas with extended family is not yet possible. We were delighted to have Susan Gold, of “Nyumbani Program” memory, visit on 16th December, and Karen Robb, USA Board spend time with us during Christmastide. Then, as always, we had our annual Graduates Meeting 21- 23 December, which is always special for them and us.

January here in Nyumbani has been a time of facilitating the start of the new academic year for our children, adolescents and young adults. Starting Primary School was a big event for the approx.6 year olds in Nyumbani Home, Lea Toto and Nyumbani Village. Waiting for admission to Secondary School was a challenging time for our Primary School leavers with the new system whereby the Government places all these students. Some of our Nyumbani Home students were admitted to schools very far away, but, Thank God, the last has now been placed. Placement of Lea Toto students is still in process. The admission process in Nyumbani Village, being under our control, was completed shortly after the academic year began. 81 were admitted in Lawson High School, 68 from Hotcourses and 13 from the outside community. 16 Hotcourses students have been admitted to COGRI Vocational Training Centre, CVTC, with admissions from the community still in process.
We rejoiced in the improved results of Lawson High School in the national exam, Kenya Certificate of Education. 12 will gain University admission, 19 diploma level and the remainder various certificate admissions. Our top student achieved an A minus result which sets the standard high for the current Form 4. Nyumbani Home graduates have already started gaining admission to various colleges. Results from Lea Toto show a 96% pass rate with 4 achieving university degree admission and 14 diploma level.

Our 13th Annual International Board Summit took place from 24th – 27th January, always a very special time for all of us in our Nyumbani programs. The theme this year was: Towards Self-Sustainability. Words are inadequate to express our gratitude for the commitment and generosity of these representatives of our International Boards in USA, UK, Italy and Spain, some who have come on several occasions. We were sad that our two representatives from the Nyumbani Onlus, Italy, Marcello De Donno and Adriana De Pero were not able to come this year, Marcello having attended all the Summits from the beginning and Adriana almost all. However, they were with us in spirit. We welcomed four USA Board members: Charles DeSantis, President, Marilyn Jerome Foust, Tina Cleland and Lorna McLeod. Celeste Shrivani, President represented the UK Nyumbani and Hotcourses Foundation Board together with a new member, Lisa Digrandi. Spain was represented by Amor Sola, President, Elena Gonzalez and Angela De Hoyos. Eight of our COGRI Board led by Paula Lanco-Mutua were able to attend. The first two days are largely dedicated to 2018 reports, followed by discussion. This year our Strategic Plan 2018-2022 was the focus as we discussed the way forward in the coming years with the changing age profile of our children. Visits to each of the programs helped to give our guests an on-site experience of how each of the programs is operating this 27th year since the Foundation.

You will remember that in my November Newsletter I told you that we were still waiting for the arrival of the World Medical Relief Inc container which had arrived in Mombasa in September! To our great joy, it finally reached Nyumbani Home on 1st February. I had just come back from the Village to find that I was in time to see the 40 ft. container offloaded from the truck onto the stand prepared for it. Monday 4th February was the day we got together as a team to off load the multiple items in the container. What an experience of awe and deep gratitude as we received clinical and laboratory equipment, nutrition supplements,an unbelievable number of medical and clinical supplies and a multitude of medicines, as well as 5 wheel chairs for our physically-challenged children. Words are inadequate to express our heartfelt gratitude to World Medical Relief Inc., and to Sara De Carlo, her father and Jack King for their facilitation. Our 10 clinics and two laboratories stand to be marvelously supplied for many years.

The Self-Evaluation exercise of the three schools in the Village, Hotcourses Primary, Lawson High School and CVTC took place in the Village from 15th – 17th December facilitated by Roger Gill and Wallace Garland. Roger Gill presented the report to some members of the COGRI Board on 19th December, which was very promising, and at our meeting on 18th January, the Board as a whole considered the Report and made the decision to immediately implement one of the recommendations: the setting up of a Board of Management for the 3 schools. Currently, the schools themselves are implementing some of the recommendations which come under their brief.
Visitors since the New Year began include a group of young people and parents/family from Ireland facilitated by Clare Lennon-O’Reilly bringing what always marks Clare’s gifts to us: multiple bags of clothes, as well as other items. When up in the Village, they were able to distribute the clothes and help in many areas. Lloydie Zaiser and her KEST group followed and, similarly, were laden with gifts, and carried out enjoyable/economic empowerment activities in our programs.

Another special event was the visit of the Israeli Ambassador to Kenya, Amb. Noah Gal Gendler and his wife together with an Israeli group from San Francesco who came to Nyumbani to celebrate Good Deeds Day with us. A very special event for me was an invitation from one of our Nyumbani Home graduates to officially open his new house which he had built himself with help from a cousin. Another extraordinarily moving event was my being present with Benard and Grace for Grace’s Birthday celebration during which Benard proposed to Grace: Will you marry me? and Grace wholeheartedly said ‘Yes’. TUKO media took a video of the event which will be live on St. Valentine’s Day. These two events have been lovingly imprinted in my memory.

Wishing each one similar joy like we in Nyumbani experience caring for our children and adolescents and God’s blessing,

Sister Mary Owens IBVM

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