Monday, April 29, 2013

6 Months! Look how far you've come Baby!!

6 months it has been since you walked into our lives and hearts.

I'll never forget how scared you were, and actually, looking back at the photos I can realize now that you were even more scared than we thought, the day we first met you.

Your head recently shaved, in red corduroy overalls and blue sandals with a broken strap. You did not want to be anywhere near me. You didn't want the nannies to leave your side. Eyes so wide... you clung on to the hem of your Carer.

It wasn't until your older friends came home from school, that you found the courage to come close to me, claiming my special little toy (iphone) as your own to show off to your friends. They provided comfort to you. They were the one consistent thing in your life. For 2 years, they were always by your side.

Here are your referral photos taken by the agency's social worker.

 So scared and unsure of what was going on. The Social worker later told us that she was worried about you, because you were so unlike any other child in the orphanage. Your were quiet, reserved and scared. The other children were always all over us, seeking love and attention. You were simply protecting yourself. Our Canadian social worker says this is actually a sign of intelligence, not opening up to anyone and everyone. We know now that your hesitation and reservations were symptomatic of child who attaches very well.

Look at you now!!

So happy and confident!
Your transition has been nothing short of amazing. You once were such a frightened little girl, who disassociated (zoned out) in any new or uncomfortable experience, to now being able to express your opinions and take risks to try new things.

This was your first bath in our house. We saw this look every time we bathed you in the orphanage. This was you 'checking out'. Eyes glassy, and you would look down at your hands. You tuned everything out and would take awhile to come to. You never had a Mommy or Daddy to trust to keep you safe, so sometimes things overwhelmed you. This was your defense mechanism to protect yourself from anything that was too much to bare.  We saw this look a lot in the orphanage and in the first couple weeks your were with us.

We thought bubbles on your head may be 'fun'... you didn't even notice.
I am happy to report, that I have not seen this look for a VERY long time!

Now you LOVE your baths, and bubbles on your head.

 We took you home on October 30th, 2012. 6 days after we first met you. For 2 months, you only wanted 'Mommy'. The only interaction you wanted to have with Daddy was to allow him to wash your hands.

The first time you acknowledged Daddy. Day 3 - you took trains from his hands. He was so happy.

You now are very attached to Daddy, asking him for shoulder rides, story time, and to talk to him on the phone when he isn't home. You love Daddy very much.

You spoke very little when we first met you. A few words of Kiswhali and Kikuyo. The first word you said to me was 'We, we'. (You). You could also say 'God' in Kikuyo, and 'take' in Kiswahili. A few words would pop up here and there.... such as 'Bug' and 'Eat'. It didn't long before you started to speak English. You called your brother 'Toto' for the first few weeks... teasing him. Soon after you were calling him 'Geeya', and now 'Ceeda'. Ryley was 'Gyley' and now 'Ryley'. You called Daddy, 'Daddy' from the start, but I was always 'We We' (You. - pronounced 'Way, way'). A few weeks home, and you finally started to call me Mommy. I was so happy to hear that for the first time. You now also call me 'Mamoo' and even sometimes 'Jolene' to get my attention.

You are also starting to form sentences in broken English. The latest thing you said, made us all laugh. The wind had slammed the balcony door shut, and the key fell out on the floor. We all sat around in the living room, but you thought this was something that Daddy needed to attend to. You yelled to him from across the apartment, 'Daddy! Door - key - fell - floor. Come!'

6 months ago, you went from having a smooth, hairless head...

To having hair long enough to sport some extensions, which you love by the way!

You went from diapers...

To being fully potty trained... You don't even need diapers at night anymore! Amazing!!

Yes, I am that Mother who posts 'potty' photos.

You went from having no control in your daily fashion...

To such a big girl, who loves to express herself by dressing up - no accessories spared. You have even learned how to dress yourself! 

You have gained 4 lbs, and 2 cm's. You are learning your colours, songs, 123's and ABC's.

 Every day you amaze us in so many new ways. We love watching you blossom! We have come to learn that you are funny, you love to joke around, tease and be silly. We especially love watching you be silly.

It brings us so much happiness to know that you feel safe and secure enough to open yourself up to be vulnerable and have fun. You are no longer reserved and quiet. You love to dance, run, play and to have your picture taken. You are super helpful and love to be given small chores. If we allowed you, you would do dishes all day long.

We have all come to love you so much baby girl.

 It breaks my heart to think of you spending your first 2 years without a forever family, but I am so grateful that we have found you and that you will forever be ours.

We needed you just as much as you needed us.

You are such a blessing to us.

You have made our family complete.

Love, your Mommy, Daddy, Sister and Brother.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Court date #2 - and what to expect from the in country adoption process in Kenya

We were completely taken by surprise this week, when I received a call from our lawyer on Thursday morning with amazing news. (I was actually out on a child rescue with Mogra when he called). After waiting 63 days from our first court date, our report was finally filed by the Children's Department and he was able to secure a court date for us. (From what I understand, court dates need to be filed by Wednesday of every week.) To our complete amazement, he was able to secure our hearing for Friday (26th). Short notice, but we were sure happy!!

The Canadian family that is a month ahead of us, has had a difficult time with their case. The judge has been making an issue of Canadian adoption and immigration laws with them, so we were really on edge.

Accompanying us in court, was the Guardian Ad Litem, the agency's social worker and a representative from the Children's department. One at a time, they all rose when they were called and stated that they have done interviews, home visits etc., and find it in the child's best interest to be adopted by us.

The judge then asked the clerk to schedule our final court date (the judgement). This is where my nerves started to fizzle. (We had a hell of time getting an extension for our visas, and was only able to obtain a 2 month extension, meaning we need to be out of the country by the 23rd of June.) The clerk started to flip through his calendar... and said," May 10th."

 May 10th!!!!

It actually took me a second to realize that was only in 2 weeks. Amazing. All I can say, is that our lawyer is AMAZING. We have always heard wonderful things about him... and I realize now how well regarded he is and how he manages to get things done.

We are looking at 4 weeks after our judgment to get all of the necessary paperwork, passport and visa to take Zahra home. So, realistically... mid June! We cannot wait to introduce you all to this spunky little girl. Everyday she amazes us with something new. She is blossoming so much... so completely different than the little girl we first met 6 months ago.

As far as the in country adoption process here - I have an amazing write up, done by a fellow adoptive parent. I wish I had this prior to coming here... we were really in the dark about the process.

On another note... I was told by our agency that there are 2 Canadian families that were just recently sent referrals. Who are you?? Please contact me!! If any adopting family is looking for an affordable 3 bedroom apartment (in new, safe compound close to Runda) to move in to.. let me know. We plan to be out by June 15th.

Procedures and protocol for International Adoption in Kenya

November 2012

Please note that the information below is a compilation based on formal documents produced by the four adoption societies in Kenya and legal texts by various departments, institutions and ministries of the Government of Kenya. Although the facts below have been cleared by a law enforcement professional in Nairobi and there might be some differences from case to case depending on the current situation in Kenya.


         Once you have arrived in Kenya and been greeted by one of the four Adoption Societies which exists in Kenya and which your Adoption Organization at home has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with, standard procedures is that you will visit the child at the orphanage between 2-6 days before you are allowed to take the child with you (this depends on the rules of each orphanage). Your Adoption Society in Kenya will also appoint one of their social workers who will be your contact person during your stay in Kenya.

         Once you have received the child from the orphanage and signed the Care Agreement with your Adoption Society in Kenya you are formally legally fostering the child for 90 days. Please remember to ALWAYS carry the Care Agreement with you in case someone stops you and wants to see that you have legal justification to care for the child. You have the right by law to only show the care agreement to a law enforcement professional i.e. if a civil person ask you to show proof of association with the child you do not have to do so.

         During the 90 days the Adoption Society which you belong to will suggest a Kenyan lawyer and a Guardian Ad Litem to you. The Guardian Ad Litem is usually a retired social worker. Standard procedures are that the lawyer and the Guardian Ad Litem will contact you during the 90 days and plan for the 1st Hearing in High Court which will only take place after the initial 90 days of fostering. You can also contact the Guardian Ad Litem yourself and invite her/him to meet with you and the child before the 1st Hearing, so that you get to know each other before the 1st Hearing.

         The sole purpose of the 1st Hearing is for a judge of the High Court to formally appoint the Guardian ad Litem as the Government of Kenya´s representative to undertake a home study of your family.

Please remember to always dress formally (no sandals, jeans etc.) while meeting with your lawyer, Children´s Department, appearing in High Court etc.

         After the 1st Hearing there is a suggested standard 45 days period before the 2nd Hearing should take place. During the 45 days the Guardian Ad Litem normally visits you at home a few times to write a so called home study report. This report is very similar to the one which the authorities in your home country have already carried out so it can be quite useful to give the Guardian Ad Litem a copy of this report from your home country.

         During the same period of time, your lawyer is to contact the government´s body dealing with international adoption i.e. the Children´s Department (CD). CDs role is to appoint one of their officers to be responsible for your case and your lawyer will make an appointment for you to meet with the officer at the CD. This meeting/ interview usually take up to 2 hours and you are not to bring your child/en along with you. Once again it can be quite useful to bring a copy of the report with you from your home country. The officer at the CD should already have a copy of this report, and should have read up on its content to be familiar with your family background. This might not always be the case. To come well prepared to the interview it is very useful in advance to list down for each parent the name of your Primary School (grundskola), Secondary School (gymnasium) incl, University and what year you finished each of these, including the titles of your various positions and what each of them enfolds. Before you leave the meeting at CD you should have agreed upon a date when the officer will visit you in your home. It is good if you ensure that this visit takes place as soon as possible after the meeting/ interview. Please remember to ensure that you have the mobile number of the officer, in case you need to call them at a later stage.

The purpose of the home visit is for the officer of the CD to have a close look at your home arrangements and see where the child sleeps and eats, as well as security, sanitation, clothes and water supply in your home.

         After the home visit, the officer of the CD and your Guardian Ad Litem will each write a report which your lawyer will collect and hand in together with many other documents to the High Court. Your lawyer will then make an appointment with the High Court for a 2nd Hearing.

         The purpose of the 2nd Hearing is for your lawyer to present to the judge ALL documents collected so far. The judge can according to the Kenyan adoption procedures already give you a judgment at the 2nd Hearing. This is however very unusual. Most common is that IF ALL papers are in order the judge will give you a new date for when the Judgment will be read out. This can take anything from 2 weeks to several months, all depending on which judge you get.

         Once you have the date for Judgment, please insist to your lawyer that you want to attend the Judgment in the High Court. This is not necessary but in the case the judge has several judgments to read out and not enough time, he/she will in most cases prioritize those families who are there that day.

         Because this is towards the end of your time in Kenya and MANY documents now have to be organized BEFORE you can go home it is a good idea to ask for a meeting with your lawyer to sit down and do a time schedule for what dates you can expect the remaining papers to be ready by and what is expected from your lawyer and what is expected from you.

Also, you can ask your lawyer to see a draft of the Adoption Order to make sure that the content is correct and no misspellings are done. Please NOTE that it is crucial that you during the remaining period read through every document meticulously to avoid any misspellings, as this can seriously prolong your stay in the country.

Please note that it can be very useful after you have had the meeting with your lawyer and you have a tentative time schedule ready, to check with the airline, which you have your return ticket with, that they have seats available for those dates you are planning to go home. At least try to make a tentative booking. This is extra important if you are planning to go home during peak season.

         On the day of the Judgment the lawyer based on the content of the Judgment goes back to his/her office and writes the final version of the Adoption Order and hands it in to the High Court for the signature of the Deputy Registrar. The protocol says that this should take not more than 5 working days.

         When the Adoption Order has been signed by the Deputy Registrar the lawyer collects the Adoption Order and hands it in to the Office of the Registrar General to get a Certificate of Entry in the Adopted Children’s Register. The protocol says that this should take not more than 7 working days.

         On the 8th day in the morning (or any day before that) your lawyer will pick up the Certificate of Entry in the Adopted Children’s Register. You shall now meet your lawyer to get a copy of the Adoption Order and the Certificate of Entry in the Adopted Children’s Register, these two copies MUST now be certified (stamped and signed) by your lawyer to ensure to the Children´s Department that they are real copies. Your lawyer will keep the 2 originals and hand them into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be stamped. The protocol says that this should take not more than 24 hrs. 

         At the same time you must take the certified copies of the Adoption Order and the Certificate of Entry in the Adopted Children’s Register and hand them in to the Children´s Department. Please call your officer at the CD a few days in advance alerting him/her that you most likely will be able to hand in all the documents requested by a certain date, just to make sure that they are available when you come.

Also, ask you lawyer for a copy of the form which you need to fill in to apply for the Certificate of Conformity aka Hague article 23. Upon request, you lawyer can assist you in filling in the application form. Please bring with you in a nice folder the following documents when visiting the CD:

         The application form for Certificate of Conformity aka Hague article 23

         Adoption Order

         Certificate of Entry in the Adopted Children’s Register

         Copy of your passport/s

         Copy of Freeing Certificate. Your lawyer should have this document, if not, ask your Kenyan Adoption Society to give it to you

         Copy of Approval Letter by the National Adoption Committee (NAC). Your lawyer should have this document, if not, ask your Kenyan Adoption Society to give it to you

         Copy of Certificate of the Consent by the Social Welfare Committee of your home country. You should have this paper with you from your home country when you come out to Kenya

         Certificate of Conformity aka Hague Article 23

Please note that the Certificate of Conformity aka Hague Article 23 has to be signed by two officials i.e. the Director for Children´s Department Mr. Ahmed Hussein Ahmed and the Chairman of NAC (National Adoption Committee) Ms. Faith Waigwa. The person at the Children´s Department in charge of writing the Certificate of Conformity aka Hague Article 23 will also ensure to get the two signatures above.                              

         Once you have all the documents above you can now apply for Swedish (or any other) travel document for your child. If you would like for your child to also have a Kenyan passport, you can apply for this at the same time. Only remember that the Swedish Embassy in Nairobi accepts taking copies of the requested original documents listed below while you are at the embassy, while the Kenyan immigration authorities request the originals only and will keep the originals with them until the Kenyan passport for your child is ready to be picked up. It is advisable to ask an agent to assist with the Kenyan passport. This can be done within just a few days (express) or weeks (standard), depending on how much time you have. The express Kenyan passport costs more. Ask you agent what documents are needed to proceed with a Kenyan passport for your child.

One very efficient agent with a registered company assisting expats in Kenya is Ms. Rebecca Lusweti (mob: 070 311 96 81)

To get the Swedish travel document for your child, call the officer in charge of travel documents at the Swedish Embassy (mob: 0733 12 16 65) and ask for an appointment. You are requested to bring with you the following documents to the embassy:


         Receipt of transfer/travel documents from CBA bank
Please call officer in charge of travel documents at the Swedish embassy and ask how much the current price of a travel document is. Then go to the Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA) and pay that amount. There is a branch of CBA at the Junction. Bring the receipt of this transfer to the Swedish Embassy.

         Copy of Birth Certificate (if this document exists)

         Adoption Order

         Certificate of Conformity aka Hague Article 23

         Parent/s passport. The embassy will take copies while you are there

         3 new passport pictures of the child

         You will also need to fill in a requested form from the Swedish tax authorities called:”Anmälan namn”. The Swedish embassy will give you a copy of this form.

            It can take anything from 1 to 3 days to get the Swedish travel document.

         Once the Swedish travel document is ready you must get a stamp in it from the Kenyan Ministry of Immigration before you can leave Kenya. The easiest thing, once again, is to get an agent to assist you with this. It should only take, at the most, half a day. You must accompany the agent to the Ministry of Immigration. Please bring with you a copy of the child’s ticket and you need to fill in a form at the Ministry if Immigration to request for the stamp.

         Before you are ready to leave Kenya, please ask your Adoption Society at home for a Letter of Approval, this document can be useful to have while leaving Kenya as well as entering your home country.


Good luck!

Info compiled by Mali Nilsson Nairobi November 2012





Saturday, April 20, 2013

What's in my grocery cart? - Kenya Living

Because I know how one can obsess over the smallest details while waiting in your home countries... (and because I have time to do so with Jennifer coming to clean my house tomorrow!) I thought I would show you what to expect for grocery costs.
The kids and I went grocery shopping at Village Market today. This grocery shop really only samples where most Expats, and Mzungus (foreigners) shop. Of course you always have the option to shop in open air markets, etc.
You will first get acquainted with Nakumatt. The larges grocery chain in Kenya. I highly recommended you apply for a Nakumatt card as soon as you arrive. The points can be redeemed, and yes, it will only take 5 months to get the darn thing! Luckily, they will give you a temporary card, even if it almost turns to dust before you get the real deal.


There is a great butcher shop in Village market called Prime Cuts. Great quality meat.
Chicken is kind of expensive here in Kenya (in comparison to other things). 4 breasts here for 1058Ksh = $12.50. Despite the fact that this is a staple for us back home, this is only the 3rd time I have bought it here due to the cost. This will last us for 2 meals.

Nakumatt groceries as follows:
Pick n Peel juice (100% juice) - 175Ksh x3 = 525ksh = $6
Berry Company juice - expensive, you can't buy berries here. A small frozen container (like small as in what you may use in 1-2 servings) is $7, so I bought this goji berry and pomegranate juice for my morning smoothies. - 395Ksh x 2 - 790 Ksh = $9.50
Quick Oats - 480Ksh = $5.75
4 AA Duracell batteries - 285Ksh = $3.50 (Yes, batteries are pretty cheap here!)
Italian peeled canned tomatoes - 140Ksh x 2 = $3.50 A little more expensive because they are imported, but I trust Italy's food regulations a bit more... and the Italians know their tomatoes after all!
Bio Tomato Concasse - 140Ksh = $1.75 Pasta sauce is expensive, so I typically make my own.
St Dalfour Peach Jam - 435Ksh - $5.00 expensive because  it contains no sugar or artificial sweeteners. Healthy options = $$$
Brookside plain yogurt - 85Ksh x 2 = $2.00 I don't know if my head was in a daze all this time I've been buying yogurt... but almost all yogurt here on the shelves include 'permitted flavours and colouring'. This freaks me out. So, I now buy the plain and the kids add fruit and honey to it.
Fresha whole milk - 38Ksh x 4 = $2.00 Just recently we have discovered that the 500ml bags of milk are the way to go. The other milk spoils quickly and doesn't taste as good.
Brown bakery bread - 85Ksh = $1.00
Cheese bread - 135Ksh = $1.50
Okay, here is the harsh reality about Kenya. They are not so good at baking. I highly recommend staying away from all cakes etc, no matter how good they look. The 'cake' is hard, dry and dense and the icing is often very salty. Blech. The bread is either crumbly or dense. So you have to pay $$ to get a decent loaf. The best bread I have tried so far, is at the Art Café... they even have sour dough, called Farmer loaf.

This lovely produce is from an amazing little store called Zucchini. I think much of this food is organic, but not certified. Why do I think that? Because, many times the broccoli is loaded with aphids just like the organic broccoli back home. They also have some unique little treats, like yummy Hummus and vanilla bean pods. (PS - you cannot get real vanilla extract here, that I have seen - so throw some in your luggage!) The quality is here is the best and often times cheaper than the Nakumatt. Stamp a punch card to get free fresh juices. :)
Greek yogurt - 195ksh = $2.40
Mushrooms - 249ksh = $3.00
Broccoli - 90ksh x2 = $2.00 The great thing in Kenya is that many foods are cut up for you and conveniently packaged for the same price! :)
Soup mix - 50ks - $.60
Sliced carrots - 65ksh = $.80
Ginger - 14ksh - $.17
Onions - 63ksh - $.75
Peppers - 89ksh - $1.05 (Peppers are so cheap compared to back home!!)
Mangoes Apple - 284ksh - $3.30 (this is expensive, you can get them at the market for 20 shillings.)
Black Passionfruit - 43ksh - $.50
Bananas Sweet - 209ksh - $2.50 I recommend the sweet baby bananas - and buy them on the green side, cause tomorrow they will start to turn brown!
Apples - 270ksh - $3.25 (Apples/oranges are imported and are expensive.)

$74.32 for this grocery shop. We stay away from any processed or convenience foods, as they are expensive. Cereal is about $8 for a small box. We also stay away from deli meats and many cheeses as that can significantly add to our bill.

The catch with all this stuff, is that the produce turns very quickly. You need to restock your produce at least every 3 days for most veggies like zucchinis, peppers. I know buy tomatoes green cause they ripen very quickly on my windowsill.

And another tip - you need to wash this stuff well!! I have seen the state of the creeks and rivers here where people get their irrigation from and I have also heard they may also use nightshade to fertilize (human manure) in addition to the fact that everyone is spray happy around here... they do not understand the effects of the chemicals and think it simply gets washed away in the rains. So, I am vigilant about soaking and washing. I use veggie wash that you can get at Nakumatt, or you can also use vinegar and salt. :)

Monday, April 15, 2013

The best gift!

Sick with bronchitis, tired... hubby out of country, homeschooling Mama who has come to really miss the fine conveniences of home like a vehicle, dishwasher, dryer, etc... has finally broken down and treated herself.
It only cost a meager $7, but it made a world of difference in my life today.

Yep, I bought myself a house cleaner for the day! She did my dishes, cleaned the kitchen top to bottom, 2 bathrooms and my floors for 600ksh ($7). House help is very inexpensive here, ranging from $6 - $10 a day depending on what you need. I have a washing machine, so the fact that she does not need to hand wash any clothing, takes a lot less work, making my daily rate lower than her normal rate ($9.50).

We save money by doing all this work ourselves, but having to home school from 9-2 while watching a toddler and taking care of all the household duties and cooking, while being sick... really was not working for me. So until Dan comes back, Jennifer will be my new best friend 2 x a week.

Cheers to just breaking down and gracefully bowing out of the battle!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

51 days and Counting

Yes... counting. For the first time in this in-country process, I am starting to feel stressed.

At our first court date on February 22nd, the Judge said to our Guardian Ad Litem that she had 45 days to file her report. I am told the ruling is the same for the Children's Department.

On March 12th, we had our interview with the Children's Department. The department office space was certainly not what you would expect. Long, dark, narrow hallway, lined with closed doors.

Looking down the hallway towards the entrance.

We quietly wandered down the hallway, feeling completely out of place, glancing at every door as we passed, looking for any sign that may indicate where we were supposed to be. We were in complete awe that this was the very place the NAC holds their meetings, and where we received our approval so many months before. The place that we often tried to envision during our long wait.

One door is labeled 'Children Officer'. We passed by it, walked to the end and returned upon realizing that this was our best bet. We knocked and slowly opened the door, peering in. 4 people glanced up from their desks, further making us feel out of place. We asked them if they could tell where we were supposed to be. 'Do you know who your interview is with?', one of the women asked. We hadn't the faintest idea. We were simply given a time and the name of the building.

She escorted us down the hallway, to an unmarked room and poked her head in, asking the woman inside if she was expecting us. Indeed she was.

The room was furnished with a large conference table, surrounded by chairs. The interview lasted about 1.5 hours. Questions that would basically summarize our homestudy. Finances, house description, religion, the interracial family factor, our family's involvement with the process and how they support us (seemed to be large focus on this - if at all possible, they really want to see family coming to visit you here.) etc. I would say the largest focus was on family, we had to write our siblings names down, their marital status, how many children, what they did for a living, etc.
And last but not least - the one question that was not on her list, but has every social worker etc. pondering about us. "Why would you want to adopt when have biological children?? Is it really true that you have no medical condition limiting your fertility?" As in disbelief of the accuracy of the reports.

We explained our desire to give a child a family... etc (You've all heard it here before!), and then she told us that she remembered our dossier from the NAC meet when we were deferred back in May 2012. Apparently, we had them all confused as to why we are adopting when we can easily have biological children. I believe this made them a bit suspicious of our intentions. She said they debated back and forth as to whether our children were old enough to fully understand the adoption and rights of the adopted child is the same as their own. She said the legal age to consent is 16, but they thought it would be best to have our children sign a legal consent. Which now makes sense to us why they had us take our children down to the lawyers office back in Canada to sign that they consented the adoption before we could resubmit our dossier! It seemed so silly... well, actually, it still does, but at least we now know the basis of the decision.

We left there with a date for our homevisit for the the 21st. The home visit was really quite quick, just a quick walk through of the house.

We were hoping that she would submit her report the following week, or even the week after that.

It is now 51 days - if the 45 day requirement is indeed true, they are late. The problem with this, is that the report needs to be filed before we can file for our next court date... which is only our second court date. The third court date is the ruling, and is typically at least 4 weeks after the second. We are hoping that the reports are filed this Monday and we can get our next court date on the 26th, putting our ruling at the end of May, and our departure time around the end of June. (It takes about 4 weeks to get the adoption order, passport and visa for Z.)

So now, you know why I am starting to stress. Next week we will have been here 6 months. Our visas will be expiring. A 3 month renewal (which, as we find out, actually doesn't yet 'exist' in the alien system here) - is a whooping $220 per person!! $880 that we certainly did not budget for as we were told the visa would be a simple renewal. More time here, simply means more $. Ugh.

Finally, it is only now that I am starting to feel like I could go home. Not because of my frustrations, or anything about the process... but perhaps of timing, and likely combined with the feeling that I have almost seen and experienced everything that I have set out to do. 2 months ago, the thought of leaving here made my heart sink, and now I am simply ready to sink my teeth into a good old fashioned Big Mac - yep, it's true... and something you will NEVER hear me say again. ;)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Foto Friday - 'Shoulder to Lean On'

So proud of my son and his big heart!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Pu-ri-ty  n. Freedom from sin or guilt; innocence; chastity:

This is one of our favorite little girls at the Mogra Children's Rescue Centre. Her name is Purity. She was brought in one week before we started to volunteer here.

I couldn't help but notice the open wound on her head, so I asked Hannah how she got it.

Purity and I taking a walk at the farm. You can see the wound on her head.
Hannah brought her over to show me how the gash on her head was one of several that her body was literally covered in.

Thousands of scars cover her entire body.
Here is her story as reported by The Star. (Article)

Police in Kiambu are searching for a man said to have gone underground after severely assaulting and injuring his five year-old daughter.

James Chege Gitau is said to have over a long period attered the minor for bed wetting and other minor errors, causing her grievous bodily harm.

The girl who was yesterday rescued from their house in Ruthiru-ini village, Riabai location, Kiambu district, has since been transferred to a children’s home. Her mother, Mary Nyambura, has been detained at Kiambu Police station.

The County Children’s Co-ordinator, Mwambi Mong’are, said the mother will be charged in court with child abuse and neglect along with her husband.

Mwambi described the act as heinous and inhuman and said the Government will ensure the man is charged in court. He said cases of child neglect and abuse are on the rise in the county and called for collaborative efforts in addressing the vice. He said each Kenyan should report any form of child abuse in respective areas.

The nursery school pupil narrated news reporters how his father has been beating her up on a daily basis using a belt and slapping her on the face. The minor whose face is swollen and bears marks of severe lashes in other parts of the body oozes blood from a wound in the left ear.

She said her mother did not stop her abusive father from inflicting pain on her but would often apply pain balm and wounds and swellings. Her other two siblings have not been mistreated by the father.

Riabai location chief, Francis Migunda, who rescued the minor, said he had received information from members of the public on the tribulations of the child before raiding the home. He said his officers recovered rolls of bhang and confirmed that the suspect is a former convict.

The chief said the minor’s mother confessed she could not report the incident for fear of the husband but has also been battering the helpless girl whom she said was not her husband’s biological daughter. Kiambu police station boss, Mr Felician Nafula, said a manhunt had been laynched for the suspect.
The newspaper printed a photo of her back, but the quality was not great. This is a better representation.

Have you ever seen anything so terrible?!

We fell in love with her the first day we met her, and lavished her with goodies.

Purity and Muffin have become quite good friends. She runs and jumps into Muffin's arms whenever she sees her.

The thing that amazes me most about this little girl, is her resiliency. She was literally beaten every day of her life. Severely. Yet, she is a happy, sweet, girl who, somehow, managed to keep her sparkle.

She loves to play, laugh and have fun. Scars may cover her tiny body, but her heart is large and remains intact. We love you sweet girl!

Please consider helping us raise funds to expand the baby house at Mogra to raise the quality of life for these little ones. More information here and on our facebook event page. Donations accepted by Canadian institutions via online e-transfer to mografundraiser (at) and Paypal for the rest of the world at jolenelath (at) Every dollar helps, these children deserve it so much!