Partners and Friends,
We are currently in a place where we feel that we are starting afresh, embarking on a new year, which may seem odd considering it is August. Due to Jessica’s involvement at Rosslyn Academy, the kids starting a new school year, and our tendency to travel to the States for furlough during the summer months, the pattern and flow of our lives seems to lead to a new beginning each August. Perhaps my spending 10 years as a classroom teacher created a permanent since that the year begins in August, not January. Regardless, we are excited to be settling back in and are looking forward to what this year will have to offer.
(Disclaimer….this is a long update, sorry! Please read it in sections and come back as often as you like).
Quick Trip to the States
This summer, we spent nearly 4 weeks in the U.S. We referred to this trip as a bonus, because it wasn’t in the plans to go. I needed to attend the Residency for my second (and final!) year of the Master’s in International Development that I am pursuing, however, originally, I was going to go alone. Fortunately, it worked out for Jessica and the kids to come along and to have nearly 2 weeks with each of our families. We normally expect that it will be 2 years between seeing family, so this 1 year bonus was a blessing.
On our way back to Kenya we had a 24-hour layover in London, which was just enough time to give the kids their first tour of many popular sites. We’ve recently read The BFG, Chronicles of Narnia, and watched several movies that were set in London, so they were excited to see the actual places that inspired these stories.
Grad School Update
As mentioned above, I am now in my 2nd year of my graduate program. The residency is an intense 18 days of coursework, connecting with professors and colleagues, and laying the groundwork for the year to come. This year’s courses are focused on Disaster Relief and Mitigation, Advocacy, Cross-Cultural Skills, Applied Research, and Financial Management for non-profit work (with a small focus on Micro-Credit). All in all, these courses, as well as the ones I’ve completed (Economic Development, Community Development, Theology of Poverty, Leadership, and Program Planning) are giving me so much knowledge and resources to (hopefully) be more effective in our work.
New School Year
The kids have now started back to school. Sophie is in 3rd grade (hard for me to imagine that if I were still teaching, she is now old enough to be in my class!) and Ethan is starting 1st grade. They are looking forward to a new year. Sophie has decided to continue with piano and gymnastics this year, and to also participate in Intramural soccer and basketball (short seasons with 8 sessions after school). Ethan has decided to continue playing soccer with Ambassadors, and to start taking drum lessons (I know that I am extremely biased, but he seems to be a natural). With a piano, drums, my mediocre guitar playing, and Jessica’s voice, a family band may be in the works.
Tana River Delta Drought Relief
In March and April, Kenya received an incredible amount of rain, following a season of prolonged drought. Sadly, the copious amount of rain led to extensive flooding wreaking havoc in many regions of Kenya. One of the most affected regions was the Tana River Delta, where we have relationships with several villages through our partnership with Bocha Hussein.
These people deal with extreme drought the majority of the year, but during the rainy season heavy rains come to the highlands, which causes the Tana River to completely flood their villages in the Delta (this year was extreme, which happens every few years). They go from no water to a dangerous amount of water. Thousands of people lost their homes and had to relocate to temporary relief camps. In April, we conducted a food relief distribution at one of the relief camps that housed three of our partner villages. We were able to provide food relief for nearly 500 families, as well as a medical clinic in one of the camps. Since then, we have also sent funds for a few smaller distributions in villages with extreme malnutrition, and were able to help with some medical needs to children affected by malnutrition and cholera.
The only benefit of this flooding is that the soil is nourished with minerals transported from the highlands, and the water table is replenished, which is critical since they rarely get significant rain. Both of these effects will aid in the long-term success of the irrigation/farm projects we have started in these villages, but this benefit is a future one, and offers little consolation in the moment.
The water has started receding, and many are returning to villages to start the rebuilding process. However, the needs are still great. We are considering doing another distribution in the coming month. Speaking of which……
Humanitarian Relief Prayer Request: We are currently prayerfully considering methods that we can use to make our response to humanitarian disasters more efficient and timely. I have formed a partnership with a local company in Nairobi that produces a UN-approved, fortified food option for extreme scenarios. We would love to be able to provide this product in times of disaster, however, transport and storage are a huge consideration. We are thinking through what possibilities we have available. As you know, our primary goal is to partner with these communities in ways that promote long-term, self-sustainability (through projects like the irrigation and farm projects), however, in times of extreme disaster, acute, immediate needs become the priority.
Hosanna Dairy Project Update
The project at Hosanna Children’s Home is going extremely well! The Sheriff (the dairy cow we purchased a few months ago) gave birth to a healthy, female calf (that will one day provide milk as well!) and is now producing 20 liters of milk per day, after the calf has eaten. The milk production is being used for consumption for the orphanage (10 liters) , as well as providing much needed income to sustain the home (10 liters sold @ 40cents per liter). Between what is earned in sales and saved through producing milk instead of buying, is around $9 per day. Alternative food options to boost production are also being considered. This project is off to a great start! Thanks so much to those of you that supported this project.
For more detailed info on this project, check out the last update: April 2018 Update
Hosanna Fish Project Update: You may remember that we helped start a Fish Sustainability Project at Hosanna a few years ago. The project has had ups and downs, but is still pushing forward. They have just harvested catfish which were sold, but mostly consumed by the children. The pond has been restocked with Tilapia fingerlings.
People to People Updates
We now have over 200 children in the People to People Child Sponsorship Program for Kenya. In May and June we were able to get updates on all of these children, which is always a great way for us to stay connected, and continue to build relationships with these kids. If you are interested in sponsoring a child from Kenya, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org and request one of our children!
We currently have two farm projects that we are partnering with for two great ministries. These farms will generate income for these ministries helping them to become self-sustaining.
The two ministries are:
SMILE STAR’D SANITARY PAD PROGRAM is a ministry that provides young girls with sanitary pads and menstrual health education in order to help keep them in school. Many girls in rural Kenya start to miss school once they reach this milestone in their lives, fall behind in their studies, and eventually drop out. This project, run by our friend Alice Wambui, aims to provide these girls with an option to remain in school.
ODHOLE COMMUNITY VILLAGE: We were able to recently provide a borehole, elevated storage tank, and irrigation pipes for a farm in Odhole village (one of the villages affected by the flood). The next step is to start the farming activities. They are planning to plant an 11-acre farm. The harvest will be used for a few purposes: to sustain the village school feeding program ministry, to meet the needs of the team that is living in the village and teaching at the school, and to provide relief in times of crisis.
If you are interested in supporting these farming projects, or any projects like the ones mentioned above. You can make a contribution here: Dunning Ministry Support (choose “Ministry” account in drop down menu) and 100% will go towards such projects (if you have a specific project you would like to support, shoot us n email and we can help you get it set up!)
- 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 us and the kids nearby.
- For good health, safety and protection.
We love and appreciate you all! Your support, prayers, and encouragement mean everything to us. Thank you for partnering with us.