The HCIC committee has been busy fundraising and spreading information about the needs of 65 orphaned children being cared for at the General Church Sacred Care (GCSC) orphanage in Etora, Kenya.
The academic year in Kenya ends in November, so the children enjoyed a school holiday for the month of December. The high school students returned home, and the grounds of the orphanage bustled with playing children. Even on breaks, the children spend a lot of time working on their studies. Samson also provides regular worship services and religion classes. Using the special funds we sent, the children enjoyed a wonderful Christmas party with a special meal of goat and chapati, a sweet fried flatbread. They were all give new items of clothes and enjoyed wearing them for the party.
The past few months saw heavy rains in the area, and many of the children were sick with malaria and pneumonia. Some of the children ended up in the hospital. Samson and Jackline visited the hospital at the end of every day. Now that the rainy season has passed, the children are in better health. Their school year started back up in January.
Unfortunately one of our 8th grade girls, Bridgett, is seriously ill with TB and has spent the last four months in the hospital. She is very weak and has not been able to return to school. Please join us in praying for Bridgett. If you are interested in sending her a card, please contact us for her address.
Up until January, the children had been living in crowded, rented rooms just down the road from the church. Conditions there had deteriorated to the point that government officials (who check on the children twice a month) said the children needed to be moved. HCIC sent money for the construction of a small, temporary structure on the church property. The children moved into their makeshift housing on January 1, and they will live there until we raise the funds to build them permanent brick housing.
The temporary structure consists of one large room where the boys sleep, and Samson is using the other half for his school offices. The girls are staying where the school offices used to be. The children still sleep two to a bed, four to a bunk. The conditions are primitive and cramped, but they are a big improvement from the unhygienic rental situation, and the children are very happy to be living on the church property for the first time.
Young Adult Matriculation Plan
HCIC recently implemented a matriculation plan for our young adults. High school graduates over the age of 18 are no longer allowed to live at the orphanage, according to Kenyan law. However, a high school diploma is not enough to qualify a young adult for any job besides unskilled labor. We want a better future for these children, and the matriculation plan could provide the means to that end by extending financial support for up to three years after high school graduation. Young adults will have the opportunity to apply for vocational school or university in order to acquire skills to become self-sufficient. To receive initial funding, the young adults will be required to send HCIC a letter of intention and proof of acceptance. To continue to receive funding each term, the young adults must send proof of attendance.
We are already implementing our new plan! Four of our young adults have been accepted to vocational school. Unfortunately, schools across Kenya are currently shut down due to a teacher’s strike. We will not receive formal records of acceptance until the schools open. Despite the hitch, we are excited about this plan and the ability to give the children a sense of hope for their future.
As many of you know, we now have sponsors for all of our children! This is a huge milestone for us and completes the first phase of our support for the GCSC orphanage. However, we will never stop needing sponsors! Some people are able to sponsor for only a year, so we will continue to need new sponsors. We have a short list of people to contact when children become available. If you would like your name added to that list please fill out a sponsorship form.
We began testing the limits of the Kenyan postal system by asking sponsors to send Christmas cards to their children. The system is unreliable, so we were unsure if the letters would reach their destination. Samson reports that many of the children received letters, and the mail is still trickling in. One sponsor sent package via UPS, which was delivered to the church free of charge. We are happy to know this works, however the shipping was quite expensive ($100!), so this method is not financially feasible in most situations.
The children are in the process of writing another letter to their sponsors. It is wonderful to see the communication between sponsors and children improving so much! This is a direct result of our summer trip and the efforts of our interns.
This fall, HCIC interns Kira Kerr and Cailin Elphick traveled to Etora and spent ten weeks helping at the orphanage. Besides being a loving presence for the children, they gathered information on the children, taught art classes, researched the cost of sending high school graduates to vocational school, and facilitated communication between the GCSC and HCIC boards. If you are interested in reading about their experience, you can read all about it on their blog: Experiencing Etora.
Thanks to Kira and Cailin, we hope to launch a new online platform called Mixonium where sponsors can access information about the child they support. Each child will have their own profile page with pictures and information. Only sponsors and board members will have access to these private profiles.
Fundraising and Events
Over the Christmas season, we launched our new capital campaign: “Buy a Brick, Build a Home”. This campaign will raise the $300,000 needed to build two dormitories, an eating pavilion, and a secure enclosure on the church property, complete with electricity and running water. We have been adding a brick for each donor (by name or anonymously) to our faux brick wall. It is exciting to watch the wall grow! Learn more and add your brick to the wall by visiting the capital campaign webpage.
After returning from their trips last year, our board members and interns were eager to spread the word about HCIC. Kay Alden presented in Glenview, Illinois and at Cairnwood Village in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania. Kay also addressed the General Church Board at their meeting in September. Kathy and Roger Schrock spoke in Kempton, Pennsylvania. The interns gave presentations at New Church societies in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania; Toronto, Canada; Oak Arbor, Michigan; Austin, Texas; and Boulder, Colorado.
Our Third Annual Coffee Day took place at Be Well Bakery in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania on December 7. We sold handmade mugs, and Be Well donated 10% of their proceeds to the capital campaign.
Lori Odhner donated a beautiful, hand-sewn quilt for us to raffle, and her generosity earned HCIC $1500!
Changes in Committee
One of our founding members, Gwynne Bevan Halladay, has stepped off of the executive board as our finance officer, though she will continue to support the work of HCIC as a volunteer. We cannot thank Gwynne enough for all the work she has done to help the children at the GCSC orphanage.
Thankfully Roger Schrock has taken on the duties of finance officer, and for that we are very grateful.
We also said goodbye to Wade Buick who was instrumental in helping us develop our policies and procedures.
Brittany Frazier Price has stepped down from the board, but she will continue in her role as sponsorship coordinator.
Thank you, Gwynne, Wade, and Brittany!
New Church Life Articles
Kay Alden will have an article featuring the HCIC July trip to Kenya in the Jan/Feb 2015 issue of New Church Life. The Mar/Apr 2015 issue will have an article by our interns Kira and Cailin. If you missed Bishop Brian Keith’s article about the New Church in Kenya in the Sep/Oct 2014 issue, you can read it in the New Church Life archive.
Our current financial status is as follows:
Sponsorship Fund: $11,994.77
The sponsorship fund covers food, clothing, education, childcare, and healthcare. The fund is supported by sponsorships and fundraisers.
General Fund: $9,886.05
The general fund covers operating costs and other needed expenses like beds, mattresses, and mosquito nets. Money in this fund comes from general donations and fundraisers.
Capital Fund: $32,773.38
This fund has seen a boost since we started our capital campaign, and we still have a long way to go to raise $300,000 for permanent living facilities for the children. The fund is supported by capital campaign donations and fundraisers.
I will conclude with words of thanks from one of our orphans, Judy:
To the New Church organization HCIC,
Hello! How are you? I hope that you are fine. I am praying to God so that you will have the strength to continue your work with us. I would like to give you thanks for what you have done for us as orphan children. Your love is special to us and we are made happy and safe by what you do.
Yours Sincerely, Judy
Kay R. Alden, HCIC Chair