Happy 5th birthday to Imara International!

Imara International 5th Birthday Cake

By Carol Erickson, Executive Director
Imara International

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO US,
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO US,
HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR IMARA,
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO US!

Everyone loves a party, and I feel that Imara has much to celebrate on our 5th birthday. God has been so good!

It is hard to believe that we opened the doors of the Imara home five years ago. We plan to make 2017 a year of celebration. Celebrating girls who are excelling in school, children who are healthy and love to laugh, a staff that is growing, amazing volunteers and supporters, and a God who is faithful and has carried us through! Wow!

We kicked off our birthday celebration on Imara Sunday (May 21, 2017) at Messiah Church in Plymouth, MN. It was a wonderful morning of celebrating all that has happened in the last five years, as well as looking forward to all God has for us in the future.

Statistics say the first five years are pivotal for a non-profit and many never make it. Thanks to all of you, we have more things than we can count to celebrate. I can’t even imagine what five more years might bring.

On Imara Sunday, there were balloons, party hats and of course cake, lots of cake, even an opportunity to frost your own cupcake.

It was such a joy watching the kids get in on the action. I think kids are birthday party specialists. They frosted and frosted cupcakes. I saw some pretty amazing works of art that were quickly gobbled up (sorry for the sugar high, mom and dad). And there were balloons, lots of balloons. Our idea was to give a balloon to each child/person who wanted one. We forgot that large amounts of balloons tied together get a tangled. Oops! You should have seen the looks on the kids’ faces as we tried to give them a balloon and then had to resort to handing them several. “You mean I get to have all of them?” It was worth it just to see the looks on their faces!

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Journey home

By Fred Hegele, Board of Directors
Imara International

Saturday

Goodbyes are always hard. We left our wintry home in Minnesota fourteen days ago. Although we feel some fatigue and are missing our loved ones, bidding farewell to our Imara family has come so quickly. It seems the moms are more aware of the goodbye impact than I recall in prior years. Clearly the kids are clinging. Caleb simply stood near our vehicle in the driveway and the BIG tears just kept rolling down his cheeks – no wailing or screaming or attention-grabbing actions, just tears. Young Bella just turned and walked away, perhaps to conceal her emotions. And the staff, which by the way is the absolutely the best ever, seemed particularly grateful for our presence and visibly conscious of our departure.

We want to express our appreciation for the very positive organizational improvements in the last year. We commend the current staff for their diligence in caring for visitors as well as their daily service to the moms and children. On our final day at the home, we were treated to a Kenyan cultural experience with a tasty dinner including meat stew, chapati, rice and all the fixings.

Uncle Gipson, groundskeeper and daytime security guard, seemed very pleased with the results of our home improvement projects, including the wooden platforms under two large storage cabinets in the main room and the enlarged sheep house including a new door. The sheep house will soon be occupied by patriarch Winston Churchill and his family of six, including nearly one week old Ester Jan. As the sheep family moves to new quarters, the chicken coop will then be available for a new crop of layers to provide a daily supply of eggs to the kitchen. Read More

Groundbreaking and cornerstones

Groundbreaking Imara Village

By Fred Hegele, Board of Directors
Imara International

Wednesday

This is the day the Lord has made. Let us be glad and rejoice in it. –Psalm 118:24

Today, 92 people gathered at our “Promised Land” to break ground for our first building, the Main Building, in Imara Village. God was present in many moments today as our Kenya Board Chair, Brian Haworth, welcomed the gathered guests from the adjacent neighborhood, Nanyuki, Nairobi, the United States, and many parts in between.

Carol told the Imara story as only Carol can, centering everyone’s attention upon the four cornerstones of Imara: Faith, Family, Skills and Education. She took a few minutes to carefully share with our guests the importance of each one in the lives of our moms and their children. It is such a meaningful story as the visitors could witness the Imara family in their very presence, some children playing, some crying, some sleeping and all together as a family should be.

  • We, the U.S. mission team, pondered about the thoughts, dreams and fears of these moms as they anticipate a building, a move, a great transition in their life.
  • We talked with the nearby neighbors, thinking about their anticipation of improvements in infrastructure that will impact their personal lives, such as the new road that the nearby British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK) will start building on February 6 to enable construction vehicles and deliveries to reach the Imara Village.
  • We sense from many of the friends and supporters from Nanyuki and surrounding area awe in witnessing what Carol and Sandy are accomplishing and thinking about their support in the coming phases.
  • We feel the humility of our Kenyan Board members, Brian, Sophy, Pastor Robinson, Beatrice, and Jacinta, who want the real credit to rest with Carol and Sandy.
  • We heard several times about the work of the Lord in all of this, one supporter observing that this “Imara Village miracle” today ranks with the miracles in the time of Jesus. (This supporter is the woman who introduced Carol and Brian some four years ago.)

The local chief spoke about his personal pride that we are in his area. He brought greetings from his superiors who were unable to join us, again offering their support. Beth, the local Member of County Assembly (MCA) for this area was more than welcoming. She pledged her support if we ask for her help. Read More

Sunday best

Singing in Church

By Fred Hegele, Board of Directors
Imara International

Sunday

Pastor Robinson had a great message on Sunday at the Nanyuki Vineyard Church based on the second chapter of the book of Ephesians. The Apostle Paul is counseling the Ephesians about moving from death to life, whereby we die through our trespasses and sins, but the God of mercy offers us hope.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, but this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God, not the result of works so that no one may boast. For we are what He has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. –Ephesians 2:8-10

Pastor used a memorable metaphor about the monkey and the fish, which gives new meaning to the expression “a fish out of water.”

Our Imara family played a prominent role in the worship service with Mamaiyo, Sofie, Rose and Evalin singing in the choir, Sofie and Elsie ushering, and all the kids singing in the children’s group. Rose leads the choir and teaches Sunday School to the children. As representatives of the Imara Community in America, this mission team was mighty proud. Read More

Imara Village nears groundbreaking, kids go on safari

Safari with Hippo

By Fred Hegele, Board of Directors
Imara International

Friday

The Kenya Imara International Board of Directors met on Friday afternoon at Cape Chestnut to discuss the Imara Village startup and groundbreaking ceremony. The final contractor bids are due today and the British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK) will review and make recommendations for awarding the winning bid within the coming week.

We owe the BATUK a great nod for their extreme service and assistance. Their expertise is so important in guiding a startup organization like Imara International as we undertake the development of Imara Village. While we have skilled and dedicated people throughout the Imara network, we don’t know what we don’t know!! BATUK knows construction, contracting, regulations, weather, black-cotton soil, Kenyan culture, and the plethora of important details that are so fundamentally critical to the outcome of our building project.

We thank the Good Lord for guiding us to this terrific partnership, and we give the British Military our warmest salute for their incredible community-minded spirit.

Our Kenyan Board now numbers seven members, five of whom are Kenyan, and we are so grateful for their wisdom and dedication to greater good of the Imara mission. They have already helped build bridges with key partners, giving us good advice and counsel on finding our way, and in general keeping us safe and sound. When we discussed community relations, the Board unanimously assured us that “community building is in their blood.”

One example of how God is working the Imara journey occurred when Board member Pastor Robinson raised the question of electricity at the new site. We all affirmed that there is no service within several kilometers, and we know on no plans to bring power to our land. Our project includes a diesel generator, and we want to explore solar power within our planned village. Chairman Brian has recently become aware of government funding for solar power. Operations Director and Board member Sandy has recently become acquainted with a grant-writer here in the community. Pastor Robinson, a professional electrician (in his spare time!) offered to help us pursue the solar option. If anyone had a doubt about God’s hands within Imara, one might conclude this is all coincidence. We have no such doubts! Read More