Teaching and learning, discipline and gratitude

Parents Day at Imara 2018

By Joseph Abe
Mission Team Leader

I love it when a plan comes together…especially on Parents’ Day

When I arrived at Imara a few weeks ago, I was asked to play some piano and teach some music lessons. “Easy!” I thought to myself, “Besides the fact that I’ve never taught music lessons before, how could this possibly be a challenge?” Well, little did I know that I would end up playing worship songs almost every day, teaching four one-on-one piano lessons, leading rehearsals for both the moms and the staff, joining the cast of “The T-Shirt Shop,” and performing both piano and the role of the shopkeeper during one of the biggest Imara events of the year, Parents’ Day.

Although it was more work than I had originally signed up for, my involvement with Imara this summer gave me valuable insight into what the moms are learning. As I worked with the moms preparing and performing for Parents’ Day, I witnessed the great discipline and gratitude that pervades Imara’s staff, young women, and children.

Upon arrival at Imara on July 9, Carol, the Executive Director, told us we would be preparing for Parents’ Day. It is an annual event at Imara where the parents of the mothers at Imara come to celebrate their children and vice versa. There was a great deal of prep to complete prior to the parents’ arrival and it would take a lot of discipline on the parts of the staff and moms. If you want to hear more about my team’s perspective, check out the upcoming Q3 2018 issue of Imara’s newsletter, Mjumbe Imara. Read More

Packing up to move Imara House

Packing to move Imara House

By Carol Erickson, Executive Director
Imara International

Imara is on the move!

After 6 amazing years in our rental, we decided it is time to move.

We found a new rental just a few kilometers south of Nanyuki town. Even though it isn’t very far from our current location, we are moving from the northern to the southern hemisphere! The new location has more space so everyone can spread out a bit and there is room for us to expand our educational and skills programs.

As you can probably imagine, this is no small job! Sandy and Imara Staff are doing an amazing job packing up a home, a school and a preschool all at once. The moms and kids packed up their belongings before they went home for Easter and will return to the new Imara location.

We are excited for the opportunities that will come with our new location and are grateful for all we learned and experienced in what will always be the “place where Imara started.”

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!

Read More

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