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20 March 2017

2016 expenses

We started last year by announcing our budget of $4,400 per month. We had received an average of $4,000 per month in 2015, but had spent $4,200 per month. We set our budget for 2016, and God gave us above and beyond!

You gave an average of $5,266 each month of 2016. We spent a bit under $5,000 per month. Wow!

This includes a big surprise - land! But didn't someone donate land to you? you ask. Yes. That is still there, and it remains in bureaucratic limbo. What we bought is fully ours. We are still paying off the last 25% of the cost, about $3,000.

For 2017, our budget is $5,000 per month. As usual, our high expense months are when school fees are due (January, May, and August) and when we pay for our airfare.

Some notable expenses:

Our MKKs are advancing in school. We have fewer primary school MKKs than ever before, more in high school, and more in college or university for the full year. Jacob, Jane, John, Linnet, Agnes, Mariam, and Henry are still without sponsors.

We will be spending more on MKK Camps this year. This is our chance to disciple them as a group. It is our highest priority, and we want to invest more in this. We will be taking the high school MKKs to a resort for 2 nights, where we can focus on fun and discipleship. It will cost $1,083.

Rodgers has been a full-time volunteer for Maisha Kamili for 3 years. The MK Board in the US has discussed paying him in the past, but wasn't sure there was money in the budget for it. In 2016, God clearly revealed to us that the money is there, and Rodgers deserves to be paid for his work. This will begin in July.

We are planning the Kahindi family's next trip to the US for November and December this year. We budget $6,000 for airfare.

04 March 2016

2015 expenses

We posted this graphic on Facebook this week. Here, we will expound on it.

On average, we received $4,000/month in 2015, and we spent $4,200. This is $50,400 for a year to pay 2 people, run an organization in the US and a partner organization in Kenya, and sponsor 30 children and young adults in school (some of them in boarding schools, some of them in Transition Home sponsored rented rooms who also received an allowance to buy food and necessities).

Housing and Salary under "Maisha Kamili in Texas" was for the Kahindi family. Salary under "Maisha Kamili Kenya" was for the employee in Kenya (Lyz).

Ministry expenses include, on the US side: software to manage our financial records, fees for international wire transfers, printing expenses; on the Kenya side: office supplies, board members' retreat, a new laptop ($580), phones for 3 people (Rodgers, Rachel, and Lyz), internet.

Transportation expenses may look disproportionately large. One reason is gas. We fill up our SUV an average of 9 times per month, $35-$40 each time (we fill up way before we are close to empty). Because of the state of the roads (pot holes and bumps), we have to replace various parts of the suspension on our car every 3 or 4 months. Our side mirrors were stolen twice. They cost $150 each. We also had to replace the transmission ($940). Plus car insurance, oil changes, and various other repairs. This country, these roads, and driving off road are not easy on a car. This category also includes public transportation, which we use sometimes, around $50-60 per month. In 2016 we have to buy new tires.

In 2016, the Maisha Kamili board in Texas has budgeted $4,400 per month, $52,800 for the year. This includes $6,000 to bring the Kahindi family to Texas. Some ways you can help:

$15/month = office supply needs
$25 one-time = PO Box for the year (they don't deliver mail to your house in Kenya!)
$30/month = internet connection in Kenya
$40 one-time = fill up our car with gas once
$45/month = Maisha Kamili Kenya's phone bills
$45/month = meals for 1 MKK at university
$55/month = electric bill (part of housing)
$40-60/month = sponsor 1 MKK in high school, college, or university
$75 one-time = 1 oil change
$150 one-time = repair the suspension on the car once
$240 one-time = 1 new all-terrain tire

To help bring the Kahindi family to Texas:
$6000 total, which is:
$1500 per person, which is:
$150 for round trip Mombasa-Nairobi, and
$1350 for round trip Nairobi-Houston

01 November 2015

God made the family

the meeting

"We are de-institutionalizing orphan care," our local Children's Officer told us. "Some orphans have to live in an institution; there are kids who have nowhere else to go. But it is a last resort. There will be no new orphanages of any kind in this county."

Rodgers, Liz, and I sat in plastic chairs in front of the Officer's desk as we discussed future ministry avenues now that we know we can't do what we had planned all along, the main reason (so Rodgers and I thought) we came to Kenya in the first place. She shared many things, very openly and honestly, about her experiences with troubled Kenyan children. She told us what the biggest needs are in the county, some of which are not our focus area, but some, like life and job skills training, are things that we had always planned to be part of the children's homes, and have become part of our Transitioning MKKs ministry. (MKK is Maisha Kamili Kids – the transitioners aren't kids, but orphans over the age of 18 transitioning into adulthood.)

She explained to us that many times, relatives send kids to live in orphanages so that they don't have to take care of them. Maybe they don't want the trouble, maybe they feel they can't afford it. Ministries like the Community MKKs (MKKs who live with their relatives, and we help with school fees and sometimes other expenses on a case-by-case basis) are very important because they help keep orphans with their relatives, and that is the goal.

changing plans

The landscape has changed since we arrived in Kenya in 2012. When we first began presenting our idea for Maisha Kamili Children's Homes, which would be small group homes, we were told, "That's a great idea. No one is doing that in this area. We support this model." It was encouraging and exciting. However, as we've been working on acquiring land where we can build these homes, things have changed. There is too much fraud, too much abuse, and even in the best case institution scenario, it is still better for a child to grow up in a family than in an institution. Kenya doesn't want any more institutional orphan care.

We have – and will continue – Community MKKs and Transitioning MKKs, but there is a component missing. There are MKKs who live with aging grandmothers. Their other relatives aren't willing to take them in. When their grandmothers die, what will become of them? We have nowhere to put them without the Children's Homes. There are also kids today who would qualify to be Community MKKs if they had a relative to live with and apply for help. But they have no one and are on their own.

We came to Kenya believing that we would be building children's homes – not large, dormitory style orphanages, but institutional orphan care nonetheless. We named this organization Maisha Kamili (Swahili for full life) because we don't want to minister to only one aspect of the lives of orphans – only school, only food, only medical. We want to be an instrument to bring them the fullness of life that Jesus offers, ministering to their physical, educational, emotional, and spiritual needs. We thought that children's homes was the best way to do that. But is there an even better way?

"Man made orphanages for children, but God made the family for children."
Orphan Justice: How to Care for Orphans Beyond Adopting by Johnny Carr 

group effort

Maisha Kamili Kenya has been a society in Kenya, but we are transitioning our registration to something called a Community Based Organization. This is an effort between an organization and members of the community. For example, right now we provide school fees for our CMKKs. Their relatives provide for other needs like housing and food and discipline. It's a group effort.

Orphans who don't have relatives to live with need foster families. There is foster care in Kenya, but not many participants. We are not a foster agent. But we can encourage fostering, help organize training or interest meetings, provide moral (not financial) support to foster parents.

It's scary to venture into this. If we were building children's homes, we would only have to raise funds, build the homes, hire house parents, and recruit sponsors for each child in the home. Encouraging couples to become foster parents is even more out of our control than fundraising. Taking into your home a child who is not your own is counter-cultural, even in the US where orphan care is trending. We have already seen godly counter-cultural attitudes among discipleship participants and MK volunteers. God is moving.

We know God asks us to do things that are beyond our ability so that his glory can be known. We don't know how this will play out, but we believe this is where he is leading. We believe that he has counter-cultural plans for Kenyan orphans.

your part

Pray with us that God will move hearts in the Kenyan church, drawing his people to care for the orphans around them. (disclaimer: Be prepared for God to move your heart, too.) Pray that entire churches will make caring for their own orphans a priority, assisting relatives and caregivers of orphans, promoting foster care and adoption.