Days 7-9 - Parties, Singing and Goats
In our third report from Happy Life Mission in Kenya it's that time for the annual Christmas party when they bring all the kids of Happy Life together with local special guests making an appearance. Since COVID19 forced two parties last year (one for the rescue centre in Roysambu, the other in Juja Farm) that has continued for 2021 but with the added benefit of the drama club and singer being able to visit both this year.
It also gives us a chance to meet lots of the staff and get an update on some of the numbers around how Happy Life has grown. The first party is out at Juja Farm with the older children. There are now 104 kids here up to the age of 19. Most of those from 13 and above during term time live over at the new high school 8 miles away towards the town of Juja - our next update will cover that incredible project.
With 56 kids at the rescue centre that gives a total of 160 children living at Happy Life. Next year will be the 20th anniversary of the founding of the project by two couples - Bishop Peter and his wife Faith from Kenya, and Pastor Jim and his wife Sharon from Delaware in the USA. You can read all about the first fifteen years of the program in the Happy Life Story which is in its 2nd edition - there's an audio version too.
The big changes here in two years are both physical and personal. There's another entire four storey school building with eight more classrooms (Happy Life cater for hundreds of local children from surrounding villages as well as their own), the brand new single story medical centre and a barbers/salon alongside the bakery.
The personal change that's most noticeable is the introduction of music and drama for the children, contributing to a significant improvement in the standard of English language alongside local Swahili.
The kids treated us to a fantastic and funny drama production called 'Olympus has fallen' - a play about trying to put on a play for visitors to Happy Life. We got to see it twice as they came across to the smaller kids party and did another rendition.
There was lots of singing and even some dancing too - we've loaded more videos onto the Happy Life playlist on our YouTube channel.
Back to the numbers. The scale of the achievements of the program are wonderful. Happy Life has rescued over 800 babies in the last twenty years with around two thirds of them having successfully been adopted. The program is educating several hundred children a year supported by a staff of around 120 - so the program provides some significant employment too.
The Jessie Kay Hospital next door to the rescue centre provides mostly children's care and has even helped with COVID19 treatment in the last year as well - undoubtedly saving many lives too with a highly rated X-Ray department and operating theatre.
Juja Farm has expanded into vocational training for the older kids including tailoring, beadwork, haircare, baking, and will add plumbing, carpentry and other skills at the new high school.
Bishop Peter makes for a great compere leading the children in a greeting for all the visitors. At both of the parties there were special guests providing inspiration for the kids - one for example was a local student who chose the party as the place to celebrate her recent graduation and she spoke eloquently about the importance of study and how it creates opportunities. It's great to see the kids being exposed to role models.
Our fantastic day ends with a trip back to the rescue centre in the van with two additional passengers.
Sharon in the bus with tomorrow's lunch - at Happy Life it really is farm to table
In our next update we visit the new high school project which proves to be a revelation and share an update on the #bookstotrees project that MX Publishing funded in 2020 under lockdown to plant 1,000 trees at Happy Life.
MX Publishing is a social enterprise, with a share of the proceeds from every book purchased on this site going to projects like Happy Life and Undershaw.