Part of our cycling team, Chain ReACTion met for a training ride this past Saturday morning. Four of us enjoyed a 55 km ride with 600m of climbing while a couple made a 25km ride on another route. Riding with great people in good weather is a real treat so come join us on July 22 for our next team ride. If you are interested in riding, joining our team or supporting a rider on our September event day you can find out more at www.chainreactionriders.com . If the ride itself does not excite you, I can guarantee you that Brenda’s home baking and coffee after the ride will put a smile on your face!
ReACT is so thankful for Au Coeur de l'Île secondary school's initiative. These grade 9 students in Comox, B.C. raised $253.65 through a bake sale, and collected a variety of school supplies for the Veronica Home. We are deeply honoured by your commitment and hard work.
Thank you Stéphanie Camiré and Véronique Kenny!
This most recent visit to Kenya was one of reunion and the continuation of precious friendship.
ReACT is privileged to have on its Canadian board Daniel Lipparelli who lived in Kitale, Kenya for 8 years and was the founder of Veronica Home. This February Daniel met Michael in Kitale so they could visit friends together, all of whom Daniel had not seen in 5 years.
Daniel was touched to see how the children have grown and are living such healthy, happy lives. He saw that the ReACT staff have rich relationships with each other and are thriving together. "I was overjoyed to see how happy and healthy the children are! I was also blown away by the outstanding staff, seeing their dedication and love for each child. I am so thankful for Mark and his leadership!" Probably most exciting for Daniel was seeing Mark Kamondi. Mark is the Kenyan director of ReACT now, but Daniel has known him since he was a young teenager. Daniel was a mentor to Mark and so is delighted to see how Mark has flourished. It was a long-awaited reunion of two brothers.
There is a stark difference in the West in how we view a motorcycle. To me, it is a recreational toy for my personal enjoyment on those few days in Canada warm enough to ride. On my trip to Kenya in 2014, I saw how integral these two-wheeled machines are to everyday life.
Mark Kamondi sees his 125cc Jailing as a lifeline to those he serves. As full-time manager, the motorcycle he drives every day is one of the essential tools in keeping ReACT Kenya’s ministry functional. His regular contact and physical presence with those in Home-based Care, the deaf school, and other satellite locations is key to providing feedback and making changes to assist in the most cost effective and culturally relevant ways.
This little Chinese bike has been through torrential downpour, knee deep mud, and has seen more dust and stone chips than any Ontario back country road can throw at you. And after many miles and multiple repairs, the time has come to upgrade this and the other ReACT bike to something more reliable.
My appeal comes as a fellow motorcycle rider and one who has driven the roads of Kenya first hand on these machines. The dangers of potholes the size of a car, road washouts from rain, and an no-rules driving culture requires a responsive and reliable machine. Keeping Mark and the team safely moving ReACT forward is a goal worth getting behind.
We have priced out these machines in the local market with Mark and have come to understand that a median price would be $1,500 - $2,000 CDN for one bike. Our goal is to purchase two this February. The old units will be sold back into the resale market to offset the cost of the new bikes.
Please consider partnering with ReACT on this. I know it may not have the glamour of a picture on the fridge - however, I have seen the look on an orphan’s face when Mark arrives – his bike coming down the lane is a reminder to these kids that people care.
Donate now by clicking on the Take Action button. Please indicate “React Kenya – motorcycles” in the memo section.
If I were to reflect on the past year for ReACT, I would summarize it by telling you of a story that has surfaced in the last 2 weeks relating to of one of our boys at the Veronica Home.
Each December, the children at the Veronica Home return home to extended family to celebrate Christmas and strengthen the ties with their local communities. One such boy (that will remain nameless out of respect for his privacy) returned to his grandmother’s home about 2 weeks ago to find that he had just missed two funerals for two of his brothers. Both had passed away from HIV, the very disease that took his sister’s life about 5 years ago as well as his parents’ lives before to that. It is also the life sentence that brought him to us at the Veronica Home.
About a month ago, this particular boy went for his regular analysis at a doctor that monitors each child’s HIV levels. At this time, the doctor asked our staff,
“What have you been doing to this boy?! Whatever it is, keep it up!”
Apparently, the levels of his disease are low enough that the doctor does not need to see him for 3 months.
A sharp contrast to the rest of his family.
There is urgency to this work and there are many more children who need the hope that the Veronica Home brings. Like Aaron, we can literally be the ones who “take fire from the altar and stand between the living and the dead” Numbers 16.
“Rescued” is not too dramatic a word to be used when we describe what is happening with these children. The years of “Restoration” at the Veronica Home are nothing short of miraculous as they are equipped to ultimately be “Released” back into their communities as a testimony of hope to all who know them.
Light in a dark place.
“The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”
Thank you for carrying the urgency of this vision with us in 2016.
For 2016, ReACT's focus has been on three projects where we have seen great results. Our vision is strong for the Veronica Home, the Home-Based Care Program, and for the elementary school students who are deaf. In each of these projects, Rescue speaks to our desire to identify and reach the most needy children in the community. Restore refers to the journey each child takes during the years of partnership. It is our hope that they will find healing and will become equipped so that they can one day be Released. After 10 years we are excited to see the oldest of our children moving back into their communities with the skills they have learned.
Thank you for the way you have partnered with us this past year. We are looking forward to a 2017 full of new ideas and new relationships.
Merry Christmas from the entire ReACT team
Children in Kenya have been out of school for the months of November and December to allow for a new exam-writing schedule. The time can be long for children at who are at home, but it has been a great opportunity for ReACT's Kenyan staff to visit the families we are supporting through Home-Based Care.
Mark found the six families he visited to be well and each telling a different story. There was the grandmother who is recovering from malaria, the youth who had just written their Grade 8 exams and were waiting for the results, families who were in need of some money to buy clothes for the children, and some who were only in need of the usual monthly food drop.
Mike Smele, a Barrie man and friend of ReACT, visited the HBC families a couple of years ago and shared his impressions with us:
The experience of visiting the Home-Based Care initiative was shocking to my sheltered, western idea of home life. The warm reception at my arrival almost led me to believe the homes were normal environments of regular, nuclear families. The truth couldn't be further in that most had suffered great loss of parental figures due to HIV/AIDS and the political strife of not so long ago. Family units comprised mostly of an elderly woman with children from multiple deceased parents of the greater extended family had come together under one roof to survive what we would consider horrific circumstances. Sitting with these aunties and great-grandmothers over chai in waddle and daub huts as they explained their day-to-day trials was heartbreaking and encouraging all at the same time.
The impression left with me is just how vital this work is in assisting children to stay with their families and be raised by those who know and love them best.
We are beyond delighted to officially announce the arrival of Trevour Mindoti Kamondi, new son of Mark and Laura. He was born Thursday October 20th at 7.7 lbs and he and Laura are doing very well. For years Mark has lived on site at Veronica Home, but shortly he and his new little family will move to their own place not too far away.
Trevour, we send you our blessings and our love!
I visited a friend today and while we chatted she gathered these eight eggs from the chicken coop in her yard and sent me home with them. Tomorrow morning we will crack them open and their dark yellow buttery yolks will feed my family. Having just received a recent email with news of the kukus (chickens) at Veronica Home I found myself thinking of the children there as I relished these little gifts.
Eggs are little powerhouses of nutrition, full of protein, vitamins and minerals. And thanks to the kuku project the children are able to benefit from them regularly.
There are now 42 chickens and 40 chicks and the folks at Veronica have their eyes set on even more so they can be both eating and selling more eggs and more chickens.
Good nutrition is so important for children whose immune systems are compromised and we are so happy that they now have so many eggs available in their own yard. Self-sustainability is also so important in the developing world and so we are happy to see such ingenuity playing out as the kuku project grows.
Our team of nine cyclists rode this past weekend despite rain and wind and when all was done they had raised over $13,000 for the work of ReACT. Thank you to our riders and to all of their sponsors.
This cycling event is gruelling - 80 km of hills - and all done by ordinary people, some of whom only took up cycling a few years ago. When waiting for the ride to start they all feel daunted, nervous, even afraid. But they finish with big smiles and a sense that we have been part of something great. Congratulations team Chain ReACTion! Onwards towards next year...