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