Jambo everyone!

What a weird time, huh? I hope you are all staying healthy! It’s such a strange thing for the whole world to be going through something together! I mean, this is not a typhoon in the Philippines, or a tsunami in Japan, or famine in Ethiopia, or war in Congo, or a hurricane in America, or a nuclear accident in Russia, or a heatwave in Pakistan, or locusts in Kenya, or wild fires in Australia, or an earthquake in Haiti, or a flash flood in Egypt, or landslides in Malaysia. This is COVID-19 in the whole world! I’m seeing lots of people posting “We’re all in this together”, well ain’t that the truth!

I am extremely impressed with how the Kenyan Minister of Health is handling the situation. If this thing went crazy here (or in any other developing country) it would be bad! In all of Kenya, there are only 551 ICU beds! Many people don’t have clean water to wash their hands regularly. Thousands of people don’t have access to medical care. 80% of employed Kenyans work jobs where they live hand to mouth; they work a day, collect their pay for the day and buy food for the next day on their way home from work. Many of these people don’t have the option of “stay home, stay safe!”

I could go on and on about the country and its efforts, but I won’t. (You can Google it if you’re interested!)

Here at In Step Children’s Home, we have been on total lockdown for two and a half weeks so far. Nobody in – nobody out. Well, Jeff goes out once or twice per week to pick up supplies, but he takes absolutely every precaution; hand washing and sanitizer before and after each stop, social distancing, mask, etc. 

We are blessed to have 34 employees who are staying on lockdown with us! (We started out with 36, but 2 have had to leave; one for family business and one for an emergency surgery!) I cannot express how much we appreciate these dedicated members of our staff! Honestly, I think more would have been willing to stay, but we couldn’t house them all! We have five people staying here at the house, two night guards staying in the house at the dairy, and 27 people staying in the clinic building! These 34 employees are covering the shifts of 57 people! They are working long hours with no days off… then again, what would they do with a day off when they can’t leave the campus? But, the flip side is that they are enjoying 3 meals a day, hot showers, electricity, etc., much of which they don’t have in their own homes.

Kenyan schools have been closed for almost a month and there is no sign of them opening back up any time soon. Our teachers left “homework” behind for our kids to keep their brains active, so for a few hours per day, our kids would “go to school”, supervised by their aunties and uncles. It cracked me up this week when I noticed they weren’t “going to school”. When I asked about it, I was told that it is now first term break! Hahaha! I guess they really need a break, since they have studied so hard these past few weeks! (rolls eyes)

The Ministry of Education has released a statement including a timeline as to what action will take place if school opens back up by a certain date. Basically, if school opens in the next few months, the school year will be extended into December (they usually close late October). If it doesn’t open soon, all students will repeat their grade next year. I kind of hope that happens, as I’m getting a bit nervous about our eighth graders and our senior in high school, who are supposed to take the monster exams this year!

Around home, the kids are being very cooperative and upbeat! The older kids are working hard all morning, which helps a ton while we are so short-staffed. Each day, groups of kids are assigned to each department; childcare, laundry, cleaning, kitchen, Stepping Stones, farm and dairy. They haven’t complained a bit, they just jump in and get the work done! (I wish some of the adults were as excited about chores!)

Thank goodness it has pretty much stopped raining! It’s nice that the kids can be outside for most of the day! The littles play hard and are ready for bed early. The older kids are able to spread out a bit, with some working while others play soccer, hopscotch, jump rope, etc. 

We also have a planned activity each afternoon at 2:00. It is such a blessing to have the new dining hall, where many of these activities take place! Right now, we are using the dining hall for just about everything except dining! LOL! Our maintenance guy is working hard to get the tables and benches built so we can finally dine in the dining hall!

We have been gathering in the dining hall for church services, movie nights, group meetings, etc. It is a very comfortable space and we are so appreciative to all who had a hand in providing it for us!  I don’t know how we ever lived without it!

Because Pastor Sam needed to go home to be with his kids (his wife is one of the 34 staff staying onsite), the high school kids have been leading church services. They are doing a fantastic job! Pastor emails the memory verse, Bible story, truth of the week, etc. and the high-schoolers take it from there! I have been so proud of how they have stepped up so that church services can go on as usual! 

One project that has needed done for years is the sorting of the jigsaw puzzles. At some point, someone thought it would be funny to mix up all the pieces of multiple puzzles. Ugghh! My initial response was to just throw them all out, but the kids, especially a certain group of girls, absolutely love to do puzzles, which are not available here. Well, this particular group of girls has taken on the challenge of sorting and organizing our three dozen or so puzzles! They are having a great time of it!

So far, they have completed (and put special markings on the backs of all of the pieces so this doesn’t happen again) 28 puzzles! Can you believe it? They use every minute of free time on this project! Many of the puzzles are still missing a few pieces, but at least they have mostly been salvaged! Most of our puzzles are cheap (Dollar Store) puzzles. The next time I’m home, I would like to get some higher quality puzzles that would withstand being put together over and over, better than the ones we have. The girls have been gluing the pieces that are starting to peel, trying to save them the best they can, but it would be nice to have some better-quality ones.

Another thing that kids, mostly boys, have been using their free time to do is farming (gardening). They have been plowing, planting, watering and weeding their own little shambas (farms). They tenderly care for their vegetables and then when they harvest, they can either eat them or sell them to staff members. It keeps them busy and they love it! 

So, that’s what’s going on around here!  I would love to hear how you guys are faring during this strange time in history! For more frequent updates, ”Like” Rehema for Kids on Facebook! I have been having a great time posting live videos, etc. And, of course, check out the website rehemaforkids.org to see how you can be more involved in all that God is doing to build a future for our two hundred kids!

GIGATT (God is Good All the Time)!

Mama Carla

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