June Update

The last couple of months have been surreal to say the least. By far, it is the most unique experience we have lived through. Like most people around the world, we have been living life mostly isolated, predominantly at our home, while balancing work, homeschool, family time, and all of the stresses and joys that have come with it. We are grieving all that has been lost by so many around the world, as well as the smaller losses we have experienced. In the midst of all of this, we have also found moments of joy and grace weaved throughout every day. For this, we are grateful. We pray that you have also felt the hand of the Creator on you and your family throughout this season. May you have an acute awareness of the grace, peace, hope and love of Christ in each moment of every day.

On top of living through the Covid Pandemic, the events of recent weeks in the US have also left us feeling overwhelmed. What we see play out on our screens every day makes us long to be there to stand in solidarity with those that suffer. We lament for the pain that our black brothers and sisters feel. Our prayers are with all those that have been oppressed and betrayed. Our prayer is also that everyone will remain safe, both protesters and police. Our prayer is that voices will be heard and that those in positions of leadership, on all levels, will have the wisdom to know how to hear and respond to this cry, to find a way to move forward, and to bring about much needed change. Our prayer is for the Church, and every individual within, that we will embrace a posture of listening with humility and that we will allow the light of Christ to lead us in the ways that we should respond.


Covid in Kenya Update

The pandemic in Kenya still feels young. The restrictions the government put in place very early were very effective in slowing the spread, however, we are still experiencing increases in cases every day. As the government begins to navigate opening back up, there is a fear that the virus will then spread rapidly. At this point, there is still a nightly curfew from 9pm-7pm, and no movement is allowed into or out of Nairobi and Mombasa counties, which are the hot-spots for Kenya. Other than that, most restaurants are still closed, there are passenger limits on public transport (though a recent outbreak has been attributed to public transport), and people are being encouraged to wear masks nationwide. President Kenyatta made an announcement on June 6, and extended all of these restrictions for another 30 days.


Family Update

The kids are officially done with 4th grade (Sophie) and 2nd grade (Ethan). They both (and their stand in teacher, Mr. Dad!) made the most of homeschool over the last 9 weeks, but they desperately missed their friends, teachers, and classroom routines. That being, sad they are both very excited for summer break. Though, without being able to visit projects, take day-hike trips, go camping, or even leave Nairobi, summer may look very similar to the last 9 weeks…just without the homeschool time. We are looking forward to more time working in our small garden together. All of this time at home has given us a chance to expand it a bit, and even though we have a small yard, we have made the most of the space. We will also continue to take advantage of having Karura Forest, Paradise Lost (a small picnic/camping spot near our house) and Nairobi Game Park within the Nairobi area, as well as our evening walks in the spectacular coffee farms that surround our house. They are also looking forward to developing their hobbies…..music, baking, crafting, lego, basketball, etc.

We have also celebrated quite a few special holidays during this period of isolation……our 15th wedding anniversary, Easter, Ethan’s 8th birthday, Mother’s Day, Jamie’s birthday and Sophie’s 10th birthday. It has been tough (especially for the kids) to not be able to celebrate their birthdays with all of their friends, but we are grateful that we have been able to find creative ways to celebrate. We are also grateful for our close family friends, the Ibs, that live in our neighborhood. We are in a prayer group together, we support one another in many ways, and we often celebrate together. When this all started, we decided to extend our family circles to include one another ( we have since learned this is called “Double Bubbling”….apparently). It has made a tremendous difference for us to have another family to celebrate these milestones with.


Ministry and Projects

Covid-19 Relief

We have continued to partner with leaders and pastors based in vulnerable communities around Nairobi to provide relief for those most affected by this pandemic.  At this point, we have been able to distribute approximately 1,000 relief kits through our partners.  If you would like to read a more detailed report on some of these distributions from last month, you can click the following links: https://dunningsinkenya.com/2020/05/04/covid-19-relief-interview/ and https://dunningsinkenya.com/2020/04/18/covid-19-response/.


Tana River Flooding and Covid-19 Relief Distributions

The communities we partner with in the region are suffering in ways unimaginable to most.  All of the communities that we partner with are currently living in displacement camps.  This type of flooding is normal for this region, but it is happening much more often and with greater intensity, recently 1-2 times a year.  Due to COVID, and its impact on the economy, the government is unable to respond to the needs of the people in any meaningful way.  Combining the devastation of a natural disaster with the impact of an international pandemic, in an already vulnerable region such as this, is overwhelming.  We are grateful for the faithfulness of our partner, Bocha, and his heart for the people of his community.  Together we have been able to conduct three relief distributions (the first two to 700 households, and the most recent to 1,300 households).  A long-term solution is needed for these people.  Ideally, they would be provided land that is above the floodline where they can settle permanently, while maintaining their current land for farming and agriculture.  This kind of solution doesn’t come easily, but it is our prayer.  


Hosanna Dairy Project

We are excited to introduce you to the newest member of the Hosanna Dairy Project!  We were able to purchase this beautiful heifer, Farasi, last week and in a few short months she will give birth to a calf.  She is the latest addition to the project that is providing steady income, as well as meeting the dairy needs of the 65 children at the home.  New sheds have also been built to accommodate the growing herd.  Isaac (pictured) is the director of Hosanna.  He and his family, do an amazing job providing for the children in their care, as well as managing the variety of agricultural and income-generating activities that help sustain the ministry.  



St. Joyuna Water Kiosk

In March, we were able to invest in a water kiosk income-generating project for the school and church (Calvary Worship Center Ruai) .  A borehole was drilled last year by Water for Nations, so there is access to plenty of water.  However, the surrounding community often faces water shortages. 

Eunice, the school director and pastor of the church, has a huge heart for her community.  In addition to pastoring the church, running the school, and providing a feeding program, she recognized the huge benefit that this source of water could be for the community.  The kiosk officially opened for sales in April, and already we are seeing tremendous benefits for the ministry and the community.  The water kiosk is providing water to the community at a fair price, while generating income for the work of the school and the church.  


Prayer Requests

  • For a solution to Covid-19 and for Kenyan (and US/World) leadership to have wisdom to know how to move forward.
  • That we would love God and others as He loves us, and that we will be faithful in all the areas that we are being called.
  • For continued direction and wisdom in our work.
  • For our marriage to grow stronger every day.
  • For Sophie and Ethan…that they will feel a meaningful connection to our ministry and that they both will grow to love and follow Jesus.
  • For the Nation of Kenya, and the individuals, ministries, villages and churches that we have partnerships with.
  • For our extended families as they live life without having us and the kids nearby.
  • For good health, safety and protection. 
Can we pray for you?  Please send us your requests at jamandjessdunning@gmail.com

We love and appreciate you all!  Your support, prayers, and encouragement mean everything to us.  Thank you for partnering with us.

 
Grace and Peace,
 
Jamie, Jessica, Sophie and Ethan

Covid-19 Relief Interview

Attached is an interview Jamie had with Doug Bartlett, Missions Director for the North Carolina Conference, on April 27, about the Covid-19 Relief Response in Kenya.

A few updates to the information given in the interview:

-660 kits have been distributed in Nairobi area (as of May 3, 2020)

-Kenya currently has 465 confirmed cases (as of May 3, 2020)

Covid-19 Response…

Partners and Friends,

We wanted to send you a quick update on how things are progressing here in Kenya.  We are doing well, trying to continue making the most of this season.  We have found a good rhythm of homeschool, family life, and work and ministry.

The situation in Kenya is much the same.  The new regulations are that face masks are required, and no one is allowed to travel into or out of Nairobi.  We are allowed to move within Nairobi, but no more than 3 people in our car (no family outings), and limited travel is being encouraged.  The cases are climbing slowly, and the government has put more regulations in place.  The people that are suffering the most are those from the most vulnerable communities, due to loss of employment, immobility, and increased cost for goods.  National Geographic recently published an article that accurately presented much of what we are seeing in Nairobi/Kenya through this crisis.  If you are interested, you can find that article here: Nat Geo Article: Covid/Kenya

In response to the growing needs here, we have been conducting Covid-19 Relief Kit distributions over the last couple of weeks.  These kits include food, handsoap, safety masks (made by our partner, Alice Wambui, and the ladies of Smile Star!), and information concerning how to be safe during this pandemic.  We have currently distributed to 300 families in Nairobi, and 700 families from the communities we partner with in Tana River County (food goods, not complete kits).

Of course, we have aimed to approach the distributions with wisdom, striving to keep everyone (our partners, the recipients, and ourselves) safe.  Our approach has been to deliver the goods to the pastors/leaders that we partner with within vulnerable communities around Nairobi.  We meet each leader one on one to deliver the goods to a safe and secure site (usually church or school), wearing a mask and keeping safe social distance.  Then each leader conducts the distribution one family at a time at this secure location.  The benefits of this approach is that it places our partners at the center of the outreach, being the ones to bring hope within their communities.  It also ensures safety for everyone involved.  The person-to-person approach limits the chance of virus spread, and decreases the risk of insecurity due to the gathering of large groups of (understandably) desperate people (more on this below).


The response to these distributions has been tremendous.  Here are a few responses that have been shared with us:

“I didn’t quite know how serious the situation on the ground (was) until we started doing the delivery.  Some families were actually going to go without a meal tonight, but thankfully they have received provision.” -Tobias

“The community is so grateful” and “happy that the Christians remember them during their time of need.” -Bocha 

“This is an answered prayer.  I was really fretting about how to help some of the families weather this storm.  We also got a lot of calls and text from parents being so grateful for these gifts.” -Moses

“I know the lifestyle of people on this plot.  We live close together.  And, this whole virus thing is waking people up to God.  One woman said, ‘Is this how God comes through for people?’  Another woman said, ‘SO… YOU can think of us?’  I’m the only Luhya (tribe), the others are all Kikuyu (tribe).  Walls are breaking down.” – Lydiah

“Everyone on my plot today can smell that the others are cooking their beans and are all happy together.” -Lydiah


There has recently been several instances of riots and stampedes at large distribution sites.  Because of this, the government has recently announced that food distributions are no longer allowed. (You can read about this here: Voa News: Distribution Stampede).  Fortunately, we confirmed today that the way we have been conducting them is still allowed.  Each location just needs to report to their local government representative and get approval.  We are very grateful for this.  Our plan is to continue doing these as long as the needs are present and we are able.


A special thanks to the People to People Covid-19 Relief fund, WMM Missionary Ron Wooten, and the many generous individuals, that have contributed to this work.


We wanted to share this update, because none of our work would be possible without your support and prayers.  Thank you for letting us serve as an extension of you.  We know this is a difficult time for most.  We pray that each of you, and your families, are safe and finding moments of joy and peace.

With Love and Gratitude,

Jamie, Jessica, Sophie and Ethan

Covid-19 Update

Partners and Friends,

We know that this is an extremely trying time for most of us in the world, as many of us engage in social distancing, isolation, and even quarantine, in response to Covid-19.  Of course, there is also the fear over what may come, what the long-term effects may be, and just how long this pandemic may last.  We are not aware if any of you have contracted it, or if you know anyone that has.  If so, please reach out so that we can be praying with you.

For us, we are all safe and doing well.  At this point, Kenya currently has 31 cases.  The government acted quickly when the first case was confirmed, and all schools were closed.  Since then, all international flight arrivals and departures have been cancelled, restaurants have been closed, church and large-group gatherings cancelled, curfew is being enforced from 7pm-5am, and social distancing and isolation are being encouraged.  Currently, there is a lot of chatter that an official lock-down may be coming.  At this point, Kenya is faring well, especially compared to many other countries around the world.  However, the biggest concern is that if this outbreak isn’t contained, the medical system could become overwhelmed very quickly and easily.   There is also a growing concern for individuals and families that rely on daily wages to support their families.  Many in this nation don’t have any kind of safety net to get them through.  There is additional concern of insecurity should things get dire, though we do not fear this and have faith that it will not come to this.

We are currently isolated at home, only going out for groceries.  We are grateful that we were able to drive to the coast last week during the kids’ Spring Break, before all of the restrictions came in place.  We spent a few days on the beautiful Indian Ocean, and even had a mini-safari game drive, in Tsavo National Park, on our way down.  It was a blessing to have that time before returning to Nairobi to settle in for this new season.

Currently, our days are filled with home school, gardening, board games, basketball, building legos, reading, baking, and long walks in the coffee fields that neighbors our compound, all while trying to stay productive and get as much work done as possible from home (more on this later).  We are trying to approach this season with hope.  We have started each morning with family prayer time, specifically dedicated to those affected by this pandemic, our own feelings and reactions towards it, and seeking to see Christ in the midst of it.  It can easily be overwhelming, but we are choosing to embrace this season as a sabbath.  A season where we are forced to slow down.  A season for prayer and reflection and listening.  A season to embrace the opportunity to enjoy the unexpected blessing of extended time together as a family.  That is not to say that we consider this pandemic to be a blessing, not at all.  We grieve for every person that has been affected, whether medically, economically, psychologically, etc..  But this crisis has reminded us, as crisis often do, of all that we have to be thankful for in this world.  We hope to approach each day with gratitude, while carrying the burdens of those around us in whatever we can, whether through prayer or direct engagement.  We are praying that an awareness of the ever-present Christ will be with all who need it during these trying times.

In regard to our work, tt is difficult to move forward when I am unable to travel, however, we are using this season to shift our focus a bit.  Specifically, to respond to needs that have resulted from this outbreak.  We have, fortunately, been in a position to assist a few people with funds for food and needed items.  We have been able to invest capital into one of our partner enterprises (Smile Sanitary Pad Program), so that the woman are able to continue making the reusable sanitary pad kits, even though distributions can not happen at this time.  This ensures that the 10 women employed by the enterprise will be able to continue drawing an income, though they will have to work in smaller groups and less often.  We are also staying in contact with all of our partners to ensure their well being, and to be available to assist with needs as they arise.  Please pray that we would have wisdom and the capacity to be able to respond when those doors open.

We are also moving forward on a few ongoing projects…..the water kiosk at St. Joyuna Academy, a plumbing and piping project at Nakuru CMD, and a fencing project at one of the community farm projects in Tana River.  These are all ongoing projects, so we feel comfortable moving forward even though we can’t be present.  We will share more details on these in a future post.  We are also preparing the materials and packets for the People to People Child Updates, though we do not know how long it will be before we can actually travel and complete them.  We are taking it one day at a time.

You are in our prayers.  Please contact us if we can be praying for you specifically.  As always, we love and appreciate you.

Grace and Peace,

Jamie, Jessica, Sophie and Ethan

(Here are a few pics of our time at the coast, game drive, and what life currently looks like for us…..because people seem to enjoy seeing the kids.  🙂  )

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March 2020 Update

Partners and Friends,

Greetings from Kenya.  We pray that you have experienced a great beginning to 2020.  We have had a busy, but life-giving, start to the year.  We have a lot of exciting news to share with you concerning our work and ministry and our family as well.  We are grateful for each of you, for your partnership, support, and encouragement.

Family Update

Note from Jessica: 

The first semester of the school year is always extremely busy for me at Rosslyn Academy, so I am very much enjoying the normal pace and consistency the second semester of school brings.  During this semester my focus is on Alumni Engagement, Marketing, New Staff Transition and many other things.  These are all areas of focus that I really enjoy pouring myself into.

The past few weeks, though I am always grateful, I have felt an overwhelming increased sense of gratitude for Rosslyn and what it provides for our family.  The school provides a safe environment where Sophie and Ethan can learn, grow, explore and develop.  They are learning so many new things everyday, growing in their faith and discovering their gifts and talents and I am grateful that they are thriving.  Rosslyn truly is a gift to missionary families.
It is so hard to believe that we are only 3 months away from closing down another school year.  This year has flown by and we are looking forward to the summer, because it gives us the opportunity to travel around this beautiful country and visit our mission partners as a family.  We are also looking forward to having our families visit us this summer!

 

Note from Sophie:  

This year has been amazing so far, because my class went on a field trip to Mt. Longonot and we hiked up to the crater rim.  Mt. Longonot is a dormant volcano!  Another reason I have been enjoying this year is because our school let’s us do so many extracurricular activities.  I am performing a dance with a group of fourth graders to a song called “Baba Yetu,” at the Elementary School concert.  “Baba Yetu” means “Our Father” in Swahili.  I have also been in Drama Club after school, and I was chosen to sing in the choir in the High School musical.  The name of the musical is Twelfth Night.  I am so excited to be in the musical as an Elementary student, because it has always been my dream.  I have also been practicing playing chords on the piano while singing.  This is a video of me playing:

Note from Ethan:  

I have been enjoying school because I have been learning about quadrilaterals in Math.  Those are four-sided shapes.  I also like recess because I get to play basketball, soccer, and throw the frisbee.  Sometime I play Sharks and Minnows.  In January we went camping and I ziplined for the first time, but I had to do it with one of the workers because I wasn’t heavy enough, so I wouldn’t make it to the end.  We also had Sports Day at school a few weeks ago.  I am looking forward to Spring Break because we get to go to the beach!

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                                                            Projects Updates                                                                (The following projects are made possible by generous contributions and the support of our partners.  If you are interested in supporting these, and similar projects, a contribution can be made here: Dunning Ministry Account (choose ministry account option at the bottom).

St. Joyuna Academy, Ruai-Water Kiosk Income Generating Project

We have been partnering with St Joyuna Academy and Calvary Worship Center Ruai since 2009.  Recently, a new borehole and water tank tower were provided to the school by Water for Nations.  This has been a huge benefit for the school and church, because they now have access to plenty of water, in an area that often faces water shortages.

We are currently in the process of constructing a Water Kiosk income-generation project, so that this water can be provided to the community at an affordable discounted rate.  The income generated from the project will provide additional resources for the school, and serve as a source of sustainability, while also being an incredible blessing to the entire community.  The community will know that this church, in addition to being a place that feeds and educates many children from the community, is also a place where they can receive fresh water at a fair, affordable price year-round.  We are very proud of the work and ministry of Eunice, and are so grateful for the opportunity that we have had to partner with her over the years.

Heavy Flooding in Tana River Delta

You may remember that in September we conducted a relief distribution for many communities in Tana River Delta due to the extreme drought.  In Nov/Dec, the rains finally came, but the amount was substantial, leading to extreme flooding in this region.  Many of the same communities that were suffering from drought in September had to relocate to displacement camps because their communities were under water.  The drought/flooding cycle is common for this region, but there has been an increase in the regularity of such events.  These recent floods led to increased food insecurity, as well as a rise in the potential for contracting malaria.

In December, we were able to provide 374 households with mosquito nets, as well as food.  In early February, we were able to provide 1,100 households with additional food.  Each of these distributions was a blessing for the affected communities, however, they were only a small drop when compared to the overall need.  We are still looking into ways that we can respond more substantially, efficiently and quickly in the face of such events.

Tana River Community Agriculture Projects

Sadly, the flooding negatively affected the farm projects in the communities that we partner with.  Most of the crops were lost, just a few weeks before they would have been ready for harvest.  However, I was encouraged to see that as soon as the waters receded and they were able to return home, they immediately replanted.  They were discouraged, but maintain an incredible sense of optimism and determination.  I am humbled and challenged by their resilience.

New Washrooms for Greenlight Academy

Greenlight Academy is a school that we have recently formed a partnership with that is based out of a local church.  The school reaches around 150 children each day.  The washrooms on the compound were not sufficient to meet the needs of the population, so we were able to have new ones constructed.

Team from Thrive Church

In early February, we hosted a scouting team from Thrive Church.  Thrive has been standing with us for nearly 6 years, so it was an honor to host a small team from there.  We had an extremely busy week with them, visiting 11 sites/projects/communities in 7 days and driving/flying/walking hundreds of miles.  It was also an incredibly fruitful week.  We look forward to hosting a larger team from Thrive in 2021.

Global Development and Relief Summit

In January, I was invited to attend a Global Relief and Development Networking Summit in OKC.  Representatives from 10 different nations, representing 11 different development and relief missions organizations, came together to discuss the possibility of forming a partnership network.

It was an honor to be in the room with so many incredible people that are engaged in inspiring work for the Kingdom.

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An added bonus, is that I was able to stop off in NC for two days to spend a bit of time with my family.  We go long stretches without seeing them, so we try to take advantage of any opportunity to see them, regardless of how short it may be.

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Locust invasion in Kenya

Kenya is currently facing the worst locust invasion in over 70 years.  This invasion has truly been terrible, and could become much worse if it isn’t contained soon.  At this point, the countries in the Horn of Africa are being most affected, and in Kenya it is mainly in the Northeast of the nation.  None of the projects and communities we work with are in this region, but there is danger of the locusts spreading further east/south which could reach the Tana River region where we have done several community-based agriculture projects.  The infestation is posing a major risk to food security, in regions that already face chronic food shortage.  The most recent prediction I’ve seen stated that at the current rate the swarms could increase 500 times by June, and this would be truly devastating for the whole nation.

The locusts were being contained with pesticides, but I recently read that the chemicals have been depleted.  So, there is an urgent need for more.  We are just praying that it can be contained quickly, and that the needed resources would come from other nations and agencies.  We haven’t been affected, nor have any of the communities we work with, but our heart still breaks for those that are suffering.

5716(Image taken from : https://www.theguardian.com/world/gallery/2020/jan/24/billions-of-locusts-swarm-through-kenya-in-pictures#img-12)


Prayer Requests

  • That we would love God and others as He loves us, and that we will be faithful in all the areas that we are being called.
  • For continued direction and wisdom in our work.
  • For our marriage to grow stronger every day.
  • For Sophie and Ethan…that they will feel a meaningful connection to our ministry and that they both will grow to love and follow Jesus.
  • For the Nation of Kenya, and the individuals, ministries, villages and churches that we have partnerships with.
  • For our extended families as they live life without having us and the kids nearby.
  • For good health, safety and protection. 
Can we pray for you?  Please send us your requests at jamandjessdunning@gmail.com

We love and appreciate you all!  Your support, prayers, and encouragement mean everything to us.  Thank you for partnering with us.

Grace and Peace,
Jamie, Jessica, Sophie and Ethan

Christmas is Coming!

Christmas is just around the corner!  Last year we had another amazing Christmas with all of the People to People partner feeding programs around Kenya (You can see a recap of last year’s Christmas Project below).

This year we will be providing gifts to nearly 500 children, as well as a small monetary gift for around 40 staff members.  We will also have 6 celebratory meals at different locations.  A breakdown of the requested gifts for this year is below:

Hosanna Children’s Home: New school shoes for 62 children and a monetary gift for 10 staff members, as well as a special meal for everyone.

Huruma Children’s Home:  New school shoes for 50 children, monetary gifts for 8 staff members, as well as a special meal for everyone.

Outreach Children: New school shoes for 8 children, a monetary gift for their parents, and a special meal.

Nakuru CMD: New school shoes for 56 children and a monetary gift for 8 staff members, as well as a special meal for everyone.

Isiolo Feeding Program: A gift (undetermined) for 38 children, a monetary gift for 4 workers, as well as a special meal for everyone.

Calvary Christian School Ruai Feeding Program: New backpacks filled with food items for 220 children, and a monetary gift for 13 staff members.

Lokichoggio Feeding Program: A special celebratory meal for 150 children and community members.

People to People Sponsored Pastor’s Children:  A monetary gift for 60 children and their families. (PtoP typically provides funds for this).

As you can imagine, this is a costly endeavor.  The budget for the above gifts, food, and meals is $8,000.  If you are interested in partnering with us to help make this Christmas special for all of these children, we would greatly appreciate it!  You can click here to do so: Dunning Ministry Account (choose “Ministry” in the account menu).  Any amount will be greatly appreciated!

2018 Christmas Recap:

 

September 2019 Update

It is great to be back in Kenya and settled back into our routines.  As many of you know, we were in the States for a 12-week furlough this summer.  It is always great to be home and to connect with family, friends and partners.  We were grateful for the opportunity to connect with many of you, but we wish there was more time so that we could have spent time with more of you.

 

We returned to Kenya at the end of July.  Over the last month, we have had quite a bit of transition.  We had to move to a new house (our previous landlord sold ours, so we found one in the same neighborhood), Jessica has expanded her role at Rosslyn Academy (more on this below), and the kids have started back to school.  There is always a period of adjustment after time away and each of these transitions added to this, but the last couple of weeks we have found a good rhythm and feel fully settled once again.


                                                            Projects Updates                                                                (The following projects are made possible by generous contributions and support of our partners.  If you are interested in supporting these, and similar projects, a contribution can be made here: Dunning Ministry Account (choose ministry option)

Tana River Delta Relief Distribution

According to the National Drought Management Authority, 2.5million people in Kenya are at risk of starvation due to drought and insufficient rains this year, which has led to poor food harvests.  There isn’t a sufficient amount of food, and the cost of what is available has risen by 10-40% in recent months.  The majority of these people live in arid and semi-arid lands.  The communities that we partner with in Tana River county are among those being affected.

Last week we were able to conduct a relief food distribution for 5 communities, numbering around 800 families and approximately 5,500 people.  We were able to procure a UN-approved, fortified food blend from a local company called Soy Afric.  The food blend is packed with vitamins, minerals, and meets all daily nutritional needs.  It is the type of food we want to be providing, however the distance from Nairobi to Tana River county is quite far, so transportation costs are high.  Fortunately, a friend from Convoy of Hope allowed us to rent their delivery truck and driver to make the delivery.  This was a huge blessing, and we were very excited to get this higher quality food option to these communities.

Each family received enough food to last between 1-2 weeks.  We celebrate this, but at the same time we were sobered because the awareness that the current needs are massive and these needs are only expected to increase. In early August it was estimated that 1.1million people were at risk of starvation, so that number has more than doubled in the last month.

Our desire is to be able to respond to such needs more efficiently and readily.  Of course, this requires more funding.  We would love a transportation option that is consistent and financially viable, and we would also prefer to have a stock of relief food waiting and ready for distribution.  These are both options that we are looking into.  For the time being, if you are interested in contributing towards our fund that made this distribution, and future distributions, possible, it would be greatly appreciated.  You can do so here: Dunning Ministry Account (choose ministry option).

 

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Tana River Community Agriculture and Irrigation Projects

One positive aspect of this trip is that I was able to check in on the 4 village agriculture projects we’ve partnered with.  This was very encouraging.  Even though these communities are still facing challenges like their neighbors, they are able to produce their own food, despite the drought and lack of rain!  The harvests are providing food and income for school fees and other needs.  Our partner, Bocha Hussein, is doing an amazing job overseeing these projects.

I will offer one specific highlight from these communities from the most recent project in Vumbwe village.  Their first harvest included kales, spinach, and tomatoes.  The proceeds from the harvest paid school fees for many children within the community, as well as provided food relief.  An unexpected benefit of this project is that it has provided a consistent watering source for a neighboring pastoralist community.  The Wata pastoralist were unable to find an adequate watering source for their herds, so they came to Vumbwe because they had heard of our agriculture project, and that our well is producing copious amounts of water.  Halima reached a compromise with them allowing them to bring their herds for watering each day.  We are currently constructing a watering trough away from the farm land for this community.  I was so proud of Halima’s (the lady overseeing this project) generosity in freely offering this water to a neighboring community.

 

 

Micro-Finance Loans

We recently had the opportunity to extend micro-loans to two Mothers of some of our People to People children.  Both women are starting small businesses selling fruit and vegetables in the local markets (with hopes of expanding to owning proper shops in the future), so that they can help meet the needs of their families.  We are proud to partner with them, and praying and believing that these small investments are going to give them the tools that they need to make a positive impact for their families.

 

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St. Joyuna Academy Ruai Washroom

St. Joyuna Christian School is a school that we have partnered with since 2009.  The school reaches around 200 children offering an education and two meals a day.  The washrooms on the compound were not sufficient to meet the needs of the population, so we are in the process of constructing new washrooms for the students

 

 

Rosslyn Cultural Field Studies

Each year Rosslyn Academy sends 16 groups of High School Students to sites all over Kenya to serve and to learn from communities and projects.  Jessica coordinates all of these trips and teams.  It is a massive undertaking, but she coordinates it brilliantly.  This year’s trips were all a great success.

In addition to Jessica coordinating all 16 sites, I host one of the teams.  Each year I take a group of 16 HS Sophomores to Emmanuel Preparatory School/Emmanuel Worship Center in Kanja, Kenya, for 5-days.  This year the students assisted in classrooms, participated in plastering and painting work projects, replaced broken window panes, learned about Embu culture, experienced the beauty of the surrounding area, and saw first-hand how tea is processed…from hand-picking leaves from the bush to the tea being roasted and packaged in the factory.  It was a great group of students, several of which I taught in 3rd grade.  It is a unique experience to be able to witness how these kids have grown and experience them as teenagers.

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New Role for Jessica at Rosslyn:

This year I was given the opportunity to go full time at Rosslyn Academy.  The official new title for this position is still a work in progress, but for now it is the Manager of International Communications and Alumni Relations.  It is very similar to a Director of Advancement position.  I am looking forward to taking on the challenges this new position holds.  I will be doing more work with marketing and branding, growing our Alumni engagement, while maintaining the responsibilities I previously held.  I am excited for the chance to pour my gifts and abilities into this role.  I will still be able to assist with our missions work on weekends and holidays, so nothing will change in that regard.

Note from Sophie:  I am now in 4th grade.  I have a very funny teacher who is named Mr. Hrvatic.  I have made two new friends named Lauren and Eva, which is nice because several of my good friends moved at the end of last school year.  This year I joined a drama club at my school, because I really enjoy acting.  We will perform a short play next week.  I am still taking piano lessons and I am learning chords!  I am also still doing gymnastics and playing intramural soccer.  Recently, I have discovered that I love building lego!  It is a fun challenge to make new creations.

Note from Ethan:  This year I have started 2nd grade.  My teacher’s name is Mrs. Kamau.  I am still playing soccer on Saturdays and taking drum lessons on Wednesdays.  Right now I really like to read and learn about animals.  A few weeks ago, my Dad and I went to the Nairobi Snake Park and I held a real snake!  It was an African Rock Python.  Rock Pythons are constrictors so they can’t hurt you.  I also saw a Puff Adder, which is the deadliest snake in Africa (not the most venomous, but the deadliest).  We also went on a game drive at Nairobi Game Park and lions were very close to us.  We also saw giraffes, birds, baboons, zebras, buffalo, impala and black rhino,

 

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Prayer Requests

  • That we would love God and others as He loves us, and that we will be faithful in all the areas that we are being called.
  • For continued direction and wisdom in our work.
  • For our marriage to grow stronger every day.
  • For Sophie and Ethan…that they will feel a meaningful connection to our ministry and that they both will grow to love and follow Jesus.
  • For the Nation of Kenya, and the individuals, ministries, villages and churches that we have partnerships with.
  • For our extended families as they live life without having us and the kids nearby.
  • For good health, safety and protection. 
Can we pray for you?  Please send us your requests at jamandjessdunning@gmail.com

We love and appreciate you all!  Your support, prayers, and encouragement mean everything to us.  Thank you for partnering with us.

Grace and Peace,
Jamie, Jessica, Sophie and Ethan

May 2019 Update

Partners and Friends,

We are currently scrambling to get everything in order before we depart tonight (Friday, May 3) for our 10-week furlough in the States. We are very excited to get home to see family, and to connect with as many of you as possible. On our way to the US we will be taking a long layover in Scotland to have a short family vacation so that we can pause between the busyness of the last several months and the different kind of busyness of the coming 10 weeks.  We will be returning to the Isle of Iona, a place with special significance for our family (though, we hope to not repeat the tragedy of Jessica knocking her front teeth out!  No bunkbeds for her this time!).  We will also be visiting the Isle of Skye for the first time.  Our plan is to do some hiking, sit by the ocean, and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation.  We are really looking forward to this downtime to connect as a family,  spend time in prayer and centering, and to enjoy the beauty of Scottish landscapes.

Things have been good for us in recent months, but we have seen challenges for many of our partner projects. Kenya has been facing a terrible drought, and the long-expected rains have been extremely delayed. The irony is this time last year we were seeing flooding all over the country from too much rain. Fortunately, rains have started the last week or so. The Meteorological Society is predicting that they will be short, and not nearly enough, but we are praying that the rains will stay around for a while. Regardless, many parts of the country missed the planting window because of the drought. Some are predicting major food shortages in the future because of this. Please keep the country in your prayers.


People to People, Projects and Ministry

People to People Updates

Over the last few months we have been traveling to all of the People to People Ministries partner projects to get updates on the sponsorship children. We have nearly 200 children in the sponsorship program that are located in every corner of the country, so it is quite a large job to get updates on each child. But it is also a joy to connect with each child one on one and to spend some time with them. We see many of these children consistently throughout the year, but the update process allows us to connect with each one in a unique way. We finished our last updates on Friday, so now they are ready to bring to the States and send out to supporters.

 

Tana River Community Agriculture Projects

We are grateful that we have partnered with Bocha Hussein to start another Village Agriculture Project in Tana River County. This one is in a village called Vumbwe. We have provided a well, irrigation tank/tower, and irrigation lines so that the community can produce crops and sustain themselves. This is the fourth community that we have done this in, and they have made a huge impact. One example is in the community of Gardeni. The group of women that oversee the project informed me that in the last harvest, they decided to sell all of the crops and then divide the profit among each family in the community. Each family received around $50 that they were able to use as they needed. Most either purchased food or paid for their children’s school fees. It is an incredible testament of a community led program, headed by a group of empowered women, that is benefiting the entire community. The new project in Vumbwe is being led by a woman named Halima and she envisions a similar approach for their project. The other programs in Peponi and Odhole are also moving along.

We are also excited that we are upgrading all of the projects to solar water pumps. This will save each program money, since they no longer have to set aside funds for fuel, but we are also excited to lower the environmental impact of the projects.

Micro-Business Seminars

During my visit to Tana River, Jamie also had the opportunity to teach a micro-business seminar to a group of leaders from several communities. My hope is that when I return, I will receive some business plans from them and we can consider investing in these micro-enterprises.

In April, Jamie also had the opportunity to give a talk on sustainable approaches to ministry with a organization that is run by a close friend of ours called InnerChange.  This particular program is an apprenticeship (Deep Coaching) that provides mentorship, spiritual direction, and training, to a of group young coaches in the Nairobi area to equip them to have a greater impact in their communities through sports programs.  We are looking forward to building on this when we return and continuing to develop this partnership and relationship.

 

Other Speaking Opportunities

In February, Jamie was invited to travel to Santiago, Chile, to present at the 6th Global Assembly on the Power of Micro-Economic Investments in missions and community development. It was an wonderful opportunity to connect with others from around the globe and to speak on a topic that he is very passionate about.  He was also able to take a day and do some hiking in the Chilean Andes at Cajon del Maipo.

In April, the church in Kenya celebrated their 40th year. Jamie was invited to speak on the history of People to People Ministries in Kenya. He also had the opportunity to speak to 150 leaders from around the country on what he believes is the call of the church: to practice, and be known for, the “Upside-Down” Kingdom values of Christ….love, compassion, radical generosity, servanthood, hospitality, self-sacrifice, peacemaking, humility, mercy, justice, and forgiveness.

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Family Updates

End of Year Music Recitals/Concert

Since we are leaving a few weeks before the school year ends, so that we can maximize our time in the States this summer, Sophie and Ethan will miss their end-of-year music recitals. We planned a mini-recital for the two of them and invited many of our friends. We are so proud of how they are developing in their piano (Sophie) and drum (Ethan) skills.

Sophie had an Elementary Spring Music concert where she was chosen to play prelude music on the piano, sing a solo, and play in a specials chimes group.  We are so proud of the way she is developing her musical gifts!

Birthdays

In the last week we have celebrated Ethan and Sophie’s birthdays with their friends. Ethan’s actual birthday was April 26. He is now 7 years old. Sophie’s birthday is not until June 11 (she will be 9), but she really wanted to celebrate with her friends before we depart for the US. We will celebrate both again with family when we get to the US, but it meant a lot for them to have parties with their friends.

Graduate School is finished!

After two years of balancing work, graduate school and family, Jamie has completed his Master’s Degree in International Development from Eastern University! He isn’t able to attend the commencement ceremony in PA next week, so our friends came together and held a surprise graduation for Jamie and Rachael….our friend that also just completed a Masters in Theological Studies.  It was the perfect way to celebrate this huge accomplishment.


Prayer Requests

  • That the next several months we are home on furlough would be a meaningful time of connecting with our families, friends and supporters.
  • That we would love God and others as He loves us, and that we will be faithful in all the areas that we are being called.
  • For continued direction and wisdom in our work.
  • For our marriage to grow stronger every day.
  • For Sophie and Ethan…that they will feel a meaningful connection to our ministry and that they both will grow to love and follow Jesus.
  • For the Nation of Kenya, and the individuals, ministries, villages and churches that we have partnerships with.
  • For our extended families as they live life without having us and the kids nearby.
  • For good health, safety and protection. 
Can we pray for you?  Please send us your requests at jamandjessdunning@gmail.com

We love and appreciate you all!  Your support, prayers, and encouragement mean everything to us.  Thank you for partnering with us.

Grace and Peace,
Jamie, Jessica, Sophie and Ethan

February 2019 Update

Partners and Friends,

We hope that each of you are well.  We are enjoying a hot and dry February here in Nairobi, which is quite the opposite of what many of you are experiencing.  If you find yourself really craving the sun, we would love to host you in Nairobi.

You may have heard about the recent terrorist attack in Nairobi.  A few weeks ago a group of Al-Shabaab militants attacked an upscale hotel.  Al-Shabaab is the same group that attacked Westgate mall several years ago, and have committed several other atrocities over the years, however, recently they have been less active.  The response of Kenyan security forces was effective and the threat was neutralized relatively quickly, however 21 people lost their lives.  We were not directly affected by this attack, however, many people lost loved ones and the nation has been shaken.  We are confident in the security measures that exist in our home and school communities, and security measures citywide are in place.  Please pray for those affected by this tragedy, for security forces that are taking measures to protect citizens from senseless violence, and for the nation of Kenya.


Family Update

We have had a great few months since our last update, and we have several exciting things on the horizon.  One of those is that we will be coming to the U.S. from May-July for our 3-month furlough.   We are looking forward to time at home with family and friends, and we are currently working through some ideas of how to maximize our time and connect with as many of you as possible during that time.  Of course, being away from Kenya for furlough means that the next few of months are going to extremely full, as we work on getting updates on the People to People sponsored children and make visits to several projects around the country.

Next week, I (Jamie) will be traveling to Santiago, Chile, to present at the 6th Global Assembly.  I have the opportunity to speak on the Power of Micro-Economic Investments in missions and community development.  Of course, this is a topic I am very passionate about, so I am excited for the opportunity.  My graduate studies are going well.  I am currently in an Applied Research course (which is proving useful in developing evaluations on the impact of projects) and then will move into my final course (Financial Management for NGO Management) of the program.  It’s been a great experience, but I am very excited that the end is on the horizon.

Jessica:  A big part of my work at Rosslyn Academy is overseeing various events throughout the school year.  In the month of December one of the things I am responsible for coordinating is the school’s annual Christmas Project, which is a four week long school wide fundraising project.    This year as a school we raised 1.6 millions shillings (approximately $16,000).  It is always amazing to see the Rosslyn community pull together to bless others during the Christmas season.

In the coming months I will be helping coordinate and run an International Schools Basketball tournament at Rosslyn, in which 6 different international schools will compete.  This tournament includes schools from Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania and Senegal. Another component of my job during this semester is working with our new staff members and helping them make the transition to Kenya.  This is probably one of my favorite parts of my job at Rosslyn.  Having made many transitions in our life, I understand the importance of doing that well.  I truly enjoy helping people through this process and helping ensure that they have as smooth of a transition as possible.

Note from Sophie:  I am still doing gymnastics, and we just started learning moves on the trampoline.  Piano is going well.  I am learning new songs with fourth intervals.  A couple of weeks ago we started Basketball Intramurals at my school.  My Dad is my coach and our team is the cheetahs, but since our color is orange we call ourselves the Cheetos!  This semester I have four new students in my class, but two are just learning English.  I am trying to be a good friend to them so they will be comfortable and I can become friends with them.  Soon I will have the 3rd-5th grade concert.  I am in the chimes group, in the choir, and I am playing a piano part.  On Sports Day, I won the 400 meter for my heat, but not for my whole grade.  I can’t wait to see my family this summer in America.

Note from Ethan:  I am still in soccer classes on Friday and Saturdays.  I really like it.  Two weeks ago we had Sports Day at my school.  I got a 2nd place ribbon in the sack race and I won my heat in the 400m race, but got 3rd place overall for my grade.  At school we are learning about quarters, halves, and thirds in Math.  I am having fun in school.  We have something soon called Spring Break.  I am excited to go to America this summer!


Projects and Ministry

Northern Kenya Visit

A few weeks ago, I traveled up to Northern Kenya to visit our feeding programs in Lokichoggio and Kakuma Refugee Camp.  While there I was also able to celebrate Christmas (though late) with the community.  One highlight of this was that Sophie traveled with me!  This region of Kenya is very remote, and as far north as you can go before getting to S. Sudan.  Sophie has been asking to visit with me for years, so we finally made it happen.  During our trip, she made a “5 Clue Challenge” video for her classmates, so I will share that below for your enjoyment.  The feeding programs there are going well, and it was wonderful to be with our friends and to celebrate together.  However, the children and families in this region face tremendous challenges.  I am currently prayerfully considering ways that we can partner together to see a bigger impact in meeting the needs of this community.

Christmas Project

You may have seen this update already, but if not, please click on this link to see an update on Christmas Project 2018.  It went very well this year, thanks to the generosity of people like you!

Bryan Nix Visit

In November, we were able to host the new People to People Ministries Director, Bryan Nix.  It was great to get to know him, hear his vision for the ministry, and to allow him to visit some of the projects hear and learn more about our programs in Kenya.

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Hosanna Dairy Project

The Dairy Project at Hosanna Children’s Home is running well.  “Sheriff,” as she is lovingly called, is producing around 18 liters of milk per day, which is both sold and consumed.  Around 10 liters per day is consumed, which is saving the home money.  The remaining milk is sold and the profits sustain the project, as well generate a small amount of additional income.  You may remember, Sheriff gave birth to a female calf in August, so we are awaiting the day (approx. 1.5 years from now) when she will be able to start producing milk as well.

The biggest expense of raising the cows is feeding, so we are currently looking for available land to grow fodder to supplement their diet.

Tana River Village Agriculture Projects

All three of the Irrigation and Farm projects in Tana River Delta are going well.  The different projects (Peponi, Gardeni, and Odhole) have recently produced maize, watermelons, tomatoes, kales, and other vegetables.  Because of the success of these projects and the empowerment they have given to communities, we are planning to do an additional project in Vumbwe village.  Vumbwe is home to around 74 people and it is one of the villages that our partner, Bocha, works with regularly.  The community longs to have access to a reliable water source so that they are able to farm and produce what they need to sustain themselves.  The project will be led by Halima (pictured below), a determined woman that has an incredible faith and passion for her community.  In addition to meeting critical needs and empowering communities, these projects are opening doors for Bocha to share Christ.

I will be traveling to this region in March to meet with the Vumbwe community, check on progress of other projects, and to conduct a Micro-Business training for a group of around 15 people.


Family Photos from the last few months:

In November, Sophie and Ethan were selected to be in the Rosslyn Academy Talent Show.  Sophie and her friend sang a song and choreographed motions, while Ethan played the djembe.

Over Christmas Break, we spent a few days at a beautiful cabin in the Abedares with friends.

In December we also took a family camping trip at Hell’s Gate National Park for one night and hiked the gorge.

We had a great Advent and Christmas in Kenya, but we missed being with our families.


Prayer Requests

  • That the next several months would be productive so that we will be prepared to be away on furlough from May-July.
  • That we would love God and others as He loves us, and that we will be faithful in all the areas that we are being called.
  • For continued direction and wisdom in our work.
  • For our marriage to grow stronger every day.
  • For Sophie and Ethan…that they will feel a meaningful connection to our ministry and that they both will grow to love and follow Jesus.
  • For the Nation of Kenya, and the individuals, ministries, villages and churches that we have partnerships with.
  • For our extended families as they live life without having us and the kids nearby.
  • For good health, safety and protection. 
Can we pray for you?  Please send us your requests at jamandjessdunning@gmail.com

We love and appreciate you all!  Your support, prayers, and encouragement mean everything to us.  Thank you for partnering with us.

Grace and Peace,
Jamie, Jessica, Sophie and Ethan