Asante sana (thank you)

Mission trippers
Mission trippers
September 2015 mission trippers: Mary, Sophy (our lodge host in Kenya), Evie, Peggy, Barb, Lynn, Jess and Pepper.

By Barb Kula, Board of Directors
Imara International

Just a quick wrap up from our trip to Imara: all are back in the U.S. and hopefully over any jet lag!

Everyone worked so hard and did a great job preparing for the trip. Our accomplishments:

  • clothing and bedding sorted, inventoried and in storage for easy access (like cleaning your closets for twenty kids)
  • supplies organized and stored for easy access
  • sewing classes for skills development and sale items for upcoming bazaar
  • video interviews with moms, Carol, and Sandy so they can tell the Imara story
  • pre-kindergarten curriculum introduction and roll-out
  • cream separator installed and working for quality baking

Of course, so much more that Carol and Sandy take into stride on a daily basis: two new moms welcomed to Imara House, cakes baked and decorated for sale, crops planted (maize, beans, potatoes), well dug, and the list goes on and on.  How they do it every day is amazing.

A special thanks to all who pitched in and donated money and supplies for the trip.  You and everyone mentioned above are making a difference.  You are providing a chance for a future for a teen mom and her child.  Huge steps forward in their life journey.  Imara House today, Imara Village in their future.  Thank you!

The beehive of activity

Cream separatorBy Barb Kula, Board of Directors
Imara International

This was our last full day at Imara House. Everyone was feeling a little anxiety about finishing the work we had hoped to get done. So we all worked extra hard today.

The inventory is 90% done. What is done is clearly labeled and sorted into bins. This system will help Sandy and Carol know what they have, know where there are gaps, and be able to quickly find the right sizes when anyone from newborn to age 20 needs a new pair of shoes or shirt or dress.

Some friends of Sophy G’s (our home away from home) came to help get the cream separator running. The bakers use whole cream in their cakes to make them rich and moist and cream in the frostings. This will make the process much easier.

The sewing team finished the projects that they had started. Evelyn made an adorable little dress for her daughter. She glowed with pride over her work. Roselyn mastered sewing in a zipper two different ways: hidden and decorative. We cut out and sewed several table runners, too. Hopefully each one learned a skill that she can help the other learn when we are gone.

Unless you are here, it’s hard to imagine all that is going on in a fairly small space. The sewing takes place in a 12 x 12-foot room, with all walls lined with shelves that store baking supplies, school materials towels, diapers, etc. Three or four people work on sewing projects while various people come in and out looking for baking supplies or school books or craft materials, and another is labeling the inventory bins. Out in the main room, one end of the table was being used to separate cream, while the other end was being used to cut table runners. Others were beading off to the side.

Out in the back, girls were mixing and cooking chapatti (flatbread) for our “tortillas” tonight for Taco Tuesday. Studying is better now that they have the tent outside. So many things happen in the same space the same time throughout the Imara House. The dream of the Imara Village will fulfill the need for space dedicated to various activities.

Fruits of Africa

Sunday SchoolBy Barb Kula, Board of Directors
Imara International

New fruit for breakfast: custard apple fruit. It’s an odd looking thing. There were mixed reviews from the team. Those of us who liked it thought it tasted like a creamy pear.

We met the moms and babies from Imara House at church. Once again, the service was filled with singing and the Holy Spirit. We were so proud of our own teen mom, Rose, who lead the children in a song and then taught Sunday school single-handedly.

The team then went to Trout Tree Restaurant for lunch. It is built in and around a giant Mugumo (Sacred Fig) Tree. They serve fresh trout from the ponds ponds below. The roaming hyrax caused a little commotion. They also have many colobus monkeys in the trees.

And the partying continues. We had a birthday party for Sandy whose birthday was September 18 and Carol who will celebrate on October 12. We wish them many, many more.

Future plans

Well DiggingBy Barb Kula, Board of Directors
Imara International

This morning, the team split up. Half of the team went to market with Sandy to buy produce and the other half went to Imara House. We hadn’t planned on going to the house today, but there was a mad rush to get cake orders filled and many hands were needed. Realizing how little time we have left, Mary also went to the house to get some sewing time in with Everlyn to make up for the lack of electricity yesterday.

After we delivered the cakes and cupcakes, we headed out to see the new property. It was a long, dusty drive. Everything is very dry; the river is very low. Kenya is entering the rainy season and they truly need the water. When we arrived we saw that the fields had been plowed for planting potatoes and corn. The fruit trees ‐ lemon, orange, and mango — are thriving. The hand-dug well is deep enough to draw water. The men were hooking up the pump to pump water for the first time. The first building on the property: a one-stall toilet.

On the way home, we picked up pizza to eat at Carol and Sandy’s house. Yes, there is pizza in Nanyuki! It is a little non-profit shop run by an Italian couple. The pizza sales support a school that teaches trade skills to boys.

After dinner, Carol showed us plans for the new site and talked us through all that went into the designs. The designs must accommodate the housing needs of 50 moms, their babies, and the staff. There must be classrooms for children of all ages, from infants through upper levels. The common dining room must have a separate room for tribal chiefs. Food storage areas and kitchens support both daily meals and the thriving baking business. There must be security to protect the residents and prevent theft of property and supplies. The designs also prepare for the future dreams of rooms dedicated to computer skills, crafts, sewing, and cosmetology.

The talk of the plans cannot go by without mention of what Carol and Sandy are doing here. Their work is indescribable. They teach, they repair, they plan, they counsel, they flat out do everything. There is always a bit of drama in a house filled with teen mothers and small children. Throughout the constant chaos and unpredictable days, they persevere with love and grace as they build this future.

Fashion day

Fashion day
By Barb Kula, Board of Directors
Imara International

It’s fashion day in Nanyuki. Today the moms got all dressed up with prom dresses that U.S. folks donated. Fun to dress up, and these teen moms were absolutely stunning! The kids joined in with princess dresses, super hero costumes and a monkey. The runway walks were poised and graceful. And afterwards, everyone wanted pictures taken with everyone else. In America or Africa, girls will be girls.

Mary got some time to work on sewing lessons with two of the moms. Unfortunately, just as they were about to start sewing, the power went out (not uncommon)! So rather than learning how to sew a zipper, we cut out a little dress that was a lesson on how to read a pattern. Everlyn really wanted to make this dress for her daughter, Bella. It is also something they can make for the other little girls or make to sell at market. We have changed our Saturday plans a bit so we can get some more sewing time in. Pray for no power interruptions!

The day ended by celebrating our team member Evie’s birthday. We had ice cream at the Imara House and then went to dinner at Cape Chestnut. There was lots of laughter. It has been a good week — not always what we planned, but all in all, a very good week.

Kids' fashion day