Monday, December 17, 2012

One World Chorus and Cura Orphanage Together Again!

 When Portland-based SOCK-It To Me donated overstocked socks to benefit One World Chorus, Aaron and Diedre thought immediately of the kids in Cura...

And decided to sell them on a one-for-one basis. For every pair of socks purchased to benefit One World Chorus, they will send one pair to Cura with me! The kids will have the most colorful feet in Kenya!

The One World Chorus kids were eager to look at pictures of the Cura kids -- to put a face to the voices they've been hearing on the Welcome to the Village cd.

Many thanks to all the One World Chorus and other Lake Oswego parents who came out last night to kick off the holiday season so generously!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Concert in Lake Oswego on Sunday Night!

I'll be speaking on behalf of Cura Orphanage at this Sunday's One World Chorus holiday concert!

Please join us if you can... at 7pm on 16 December at the Mountain Park Recreation Center
(2 Mount Jefferson Terrace) in Lake Oswego, Oregon.

Tickets will be available at the door, or you can purchase them here!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Holiday Card

Here are our happy holiday wishes from the group of students who made and sold our "I love Cura" bracelets so we can purchase goal posts and other extra-curricular support items on my next visit. Some of these students are also pen pals. Thank you, Mary, for directing their holiday generosity our way!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Cura Orphanage Media Day

Today I found Cura Orphanage mentioned in not one, but two media outlets! True, the one in the Huffington Post is a result of my own blogging efforts, but still.

The other I found because of a fortuitous-in-retrospect trip to the dentist... I hadn't been able to locate a copy of December's Town & Country at any of my local magazine sellers, but there it was, on the side table in the lobby. Most of the other patients were reading People, but here's what caught my eye:

Those of you who have been to Cura will not only recognize the reference to our outgoing and no-fuss Carol, but also many of the other children featured in the photos. Mercy and Bethwell are featured as "girl" and "boy," respectively... looking great, as always!

Many thanks to GenArt and to Ballantines for this incredible exposure!

New Trampoline!

Volunteer Amanda has taught the kids how to play "popcorn" on their new trampoline... such fun!!

The kids hurried to finish their lunches when the parts arrived, and they all pitched in to put it together. Thanks to everyone -- especially Yassi and Lilly -- who made this all happen!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Last Maasai Warriors

Wilson Meikuaya and Jackson Ntirkana joined us on Sunday night, as part of their US tour to represent Free the Children and to promote their book: The Last Maasai Warriors. Their next stop? A visit with the Seattle Seahawks -- Pete Carroll got his photo with them on Instagram!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Safari Nights Report to Come...

If you were there, you already know how much the Third Annual Safari Nights event rocked. Stay tuned for a full update -- and for a full photo album on our Facebook page! None of the members of our Safari Nights Family (Cura Orphanage, Creative Visions Foundation, Henson Studios) can stop smiling today... but we do need to catch up on some sleep! More very soon.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Stage is Set in Studio A

The stage is both literally and figuratively set for tonight's Safari Nights event... If you' won't be there, I Feel For You. (Get it? That's a Chaka Khan reference.)


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Almost Ready for Safari Nights

We started setting up today at Henson Studios... it's gonna be AMAZING, everyone! Chaka Khan and her band, along with Wendy and Lisa and The Goods -- incredible talent for an incredible cause. Come see what we have for sale to support the kids in Cura, and to contribute to the successful launch of Cura Secondary School's first academic year!


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Poetic Partnership

Several months ago, a fellow Western Washington University alum contacted me out of the blue with an idea.

Based in Port Townsend, Jordan Hartt runs an online literary magazine called "Conversations Across Borders" -- a project he started with the idea that people might want to read poetry while simultaneously helping support literacy around the world.

We immediately saw the potential for partnership between these two causes close to our hearts, and we began working on the idea to feature Cura's new secondary school as a recipient of the donations made through the CAB site. That idea is coming to fruition now, which you can see if you visit the Cura page here!

Please consider buying a poem or two, as well!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Chaka Khan at our Third Annual Safari Nights!

Thanks to Creative Visions, Lucy Woodward, Faryal Russell and Henson Studios, we are thrilled to announce the 3rd Annual Safari Nights event. Check out the big name talent for the night... Chaka Khan! The event will primarily benefit Cura Orphanage, but will also support Creative Visions and the Chaka Khan Foundation, and it promises to be a really good time!

If you'll be in the Los Angeles area on 2 December, please get your TICKETS HERE -- and I'll see you there!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Cura in Print in December!

Thanks to our wonderful friends at Melinda Maria jewelry, Cura Orphanage has a mention in December's InStyle magazine.... look for us under Selena Gomez on page 74! Of course, we'd also love it if you'd find us on the jeweler's website, too -- a Cura necklace would make a great holiday gift...

Watch, too, for more information about Cura's mention in the December issue of Town & Country. Many thanks to everyone who helps get the word out about the work we do!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Cura loves Visitors

Our friends Jonathan and Melissa paid Cura a visit on Monday... Here's Grace giving Jonathan a tour of the new secondary school buildings. Now to fill them with desks and books and teachers and students!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Construction for Change -- Project Report

Construction for Change has posted its project report -- Check it out here!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Bracelets for Cura

One of Cura's biggest fans produced these bracelets for a presentation she gave... 
We're hoping their sale will yield impressive results.

Thank you for your ongoing support, Mary!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Belated Birthday Wishes

Lovely Scola coordinated this birthday creativity, and I was only just able to open the picture files she sent. Technology, plus warm wishes like these make Cura seem not so far away...

Thursday, September 27, 2012

One Step Closer to the Cura Library

Books donated by a retiring Virginia elementary teacher and shipped to me in Washington via a charitable gift from FedEx are now headed toward the Canadian border with Afretech volunteer, Carol!

We loaded her van this afternoon -- 30 boxes, if you can believe it:

From my house, they'll go to Carol's driveway and then to Bonnie's garage... until she can get them onto Afretech's container heading for Kenya. The books won't arrive in Cura until the spring, but it'll be worth the wait!

Many thanks to everyone who continues to make this generous work possible,

Friday, September 21, 2012

Celebrating Creative Visions

It was a Creative Visions event for the record-books -- and I was thrilled to be there!

CVF affords us our 501(c)3 status, but it does so much more than that for Cura... The inspirational CVF founders, Kathy and Amy, bring attention to our work; Grace, the CVF CFO, helps me track donor dollars and international wire transfers; and the tireless and enthusiastic interns are there to support fund-raising and social media and just about anything else I need!

Last night's event was a celebration of Creative Visions generally, but there were lots of Cura Orphanage supporters there... and if YOU were one of them, I hope I had a chance to thank you personally for your ongoing support. I did my best, honest.

Please watch for an announcement, soon, of an upcoming Cura-specific fund-raising event: Safari Nights III!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Meet Krishna

Cura is thrilled and grateful to welcome Krishna to its growing family... She is 5 months pregnant, and was a gift from a local supporter. As our little farm grows, we are increasingly able to provide our own milk (and eggs and vegetables) to the children in our care -- and we can sell the excess to provide a small source of revenue to meet expenses. Many thanks to those who make this possible!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Flashmob Flashback

For fun, my daughter's Spanish class is learning the lyrics to this song... So we reconnected with the Cura kids and sang along!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Many Hands...

Sometimes cliches get things right -- many hands really did make light work today!

Many thanks to my family and other willing volunteers for spending giving some of the last sunshine-y hours of their summer vacations for Cura's benefit. They turned 13 boxes of this:

Into about 40 boxes of much smaller, more manageable and OSHA-approved of textbooks and library books ready for transport and shipment...

and, in the process, created LOTS more space in my garage!

Many thanks to everyone who continues to contribute to this project that will supplement the resources available to Cura's teachers and the education offered to Cura's children.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Thank you, Keeney's Office Supply!

Edmonds Community College provided the initial supply of boxes, as well as this wonderful connection to Keeney's Office Supply... who today delivered 50 more boxes for our repacking project before we get donated books shipped off to Cura!

Many thanks to owner, Lisa Keeney, as well as to employees Shannon and Justin (pictured above), who made the delivery happen!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

From Community College to Primary School...

13 gigantic boxes of donated primary school books were delivered, thanks to the efforts of supporters in Virginia and FedEx's charitable shipping program, to my garage last week. Afretech, a charitable group based in Vancouver, BC, is preparing to get the books from North America to Kenya... but the boxes in my garage are too big for us to get across the border and into the container!

In the face of this news, I put out a call to my employer, Edmonds Community College, to see what recycled file- or printer-paper- boxes I might gather for the cause, and the response was immediate and generous. I filled my car today with gloriously sturdy cardboard boxes, and I'll go back next week for more. I'm thrilled!

Stay tuned for news of a re-packing party in my driveway...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Karibu, Cura! One Volunteer's Experience

Here's what Alyana, a recent volunteer to Cura, had to say about her visit:

I was welcomed to Cura Orphanage with open arms, smiles, hugs, and surprisingly even a quick proposal after the question had first been popped to my Dad. Within a few minutes, I knew this would be an experience to remember.

My Dad and I arrived while all the kids were still in school, so before the rush of curious kids flooded out from the classrooms Hayden and Quinn gave us a tour. We saw everything from the computer room to the clinic and lastly met the lovely housemothers picking out little rocks from beans and rice. Quinn and I tried learning, but at a snail's pace compared to the experienced mothers.

As lunched rolled out onto plates, the kids hesitantly looked over at me, questioning who I was while they wolfed down their beans and potatoes. But after the first couple brave souls introduced themselves, I was quickly submerged in a sea of kids. After word spread that my name was Alyana (Ariana, as they pronounced it) -- the girl ALL THE WAY from Canada, Quinn and I began our first task: getting all the kids to trace their hands and colorfully decorate their artwork!

Getting the first few kids was a little bit of a struggle, but Minnet, a spunky student, gladly smiled and pulled a couple of her friends in, and as soon as the others saw the rainbows of art supplies they rushed to the door clawing to get in. As we filtered everyone in, Quinn and I could see how happy all the kids were to be housed at the orphanage. Truly appreciative of everything they had, Cura became a haven of love for them and the only home they needed.

After organizing all the handprints and busying ourselves with little tasks, Quinn and I were thrilled when the kids were let out of school. They changed out of their vibrant blue sweaters and pulled our hands out to the red mud grounds where they taught us their skipping games and daily recess chants.

When my parents arrived, all the kids gathered around the car with bright eyes and a continuous hum of questions. Once all had been answered, Grace, one of the housemothers, assembled the chorus of kids and we were sent off with songs! The end of a great first day!

Welcomed by Moses on the second day, Quinn and I quickly started our second task: taking portrait shots of all the kids. Learning their names and little things about each of them, the day quickly flew by and we had every photo we needed.

But before I left, the best treat of all awaited. All the students attending the Cura Primary School, outfitted in their brand new costumes, performed their competition routine, singing and dancing traditional songs. An amazing performance, which, I was glad to hear, served them well at the competition!

The third day again was filled with smiles and songs as Hayden donated multiple sets of books for everyone at the primary school. The most unexpected gift of all was a beautiful bag given to Hayden that brought tears to her eyes. The multiple hugs of thanks were followed by chuckles as the head boy and girl thanked Hayden on behalf of the entire school, making a few nervous mistakes. Once Quinn and I were trampled by the kids hurrying back to school we started stamping the books and ended the day with a delicious meal: chai and bread and butter!

When the last day rolled around… I never anticipated crying myself. I stopped by at lunch to say goodbye and help out on any last things. I was handed letters of goodbyes (“goodbye for now” as I renamed them) and skipped a few last times before waving to all the kids as they rushed back to classes. The younger ones, who finish earlier, stayed behind and unable to resist their cheery smiles I stayed on to play and entertain as much as I could. But when the time came a couple clung on to my legs and started to cry. It broke my heart to say “goodbye for now” and I too started to cry during the final group hug– the sign of a truly memorable experience.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Happy Birthday, Norman!

Can there be any doubt that volunteers in Cura make a difference in the lives of the children in our Home? Absolutely not! Norman hasn't been back to Cura yet this year, but the children celebrate and miss him... and await his return.

Many thanks, too, to Scola -- the wonderful teacher who helped the children with this thoughtful art project!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

More shoes and computers...

Another generous shipment of needed goods arrived in Cura recently... many, many thanks to Mary and her incredible team for providing shoes and books and computers and more! 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Rotary Health Day and other celebrations

Many thanks to Mike Eldon, for the update from Cura below!:

I drive out to Cura, for the Rotary Health Day, the only Rotarian to make it. But before joining the over two hundred children (six hundred in all participated during the day) gathered to be educated on health matters I have Will Fort proudly show me round his almost completed secondary school building. And he’s quite right to be proud, for it is indeed a wonderful structure. It’s clearly built to last, and it’s very attractively designed and exceptionally well finished. I chat briefly to Chege, who’s been doing a fine job painting the outside walls of the pre-primary school. ‘I attended that school in 1978,’ he tells me, ‘and now I feel so good painting it today.’ 

The community is about to set up a board to move the project from its building stage to its usage, and we are all determined that the school be a centre of excellence. 

Moses, Ngethe, vicar Edwin Kinyanjui and Mrs. Mwathi, the headmistress of Cura primary school, accompany me to where the children are seated, and Edwin tells me he talked to the children about ‘you and yourself’ – just what I was doing for two whole days with the EGPAF leaders, I comment.

Moses introduces me very nicely – as a ‘son of Cura’ – and I stand up on the table I’d had them place in front of us with little if any idea of what I will talk about, yet confident my usual scriptwriter will be present and on form. I say I am not only a son of Cura but a guka too, and that I am also here to represent Rotary. I say all the right things about the importance of good health, and also about the need to take their schoolwork seriously, as Kenya is a land of great opportunity, but more so for those with a good education. 

‘You see the new school going up behind us?’ I ask, ‘Some of you will be going there, but others will not. So you have to decide if you will be among the fortunate ones.’ I then point over to the ridge to our right. ‘And that’s where our university will be!!!’ 

After watching two of the visiting experts talk about oral hygiene and about the importance of hand-washing with soap my quartet of minders takes me off for a soda back at the home, and we have a good chat about matters Cura. I then visit Norman the cow, to be introduced to her latest offspring: twins, a boy and a girl, born three days ago! 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Njabini and Goodbyes

With a lot of excitement, and even a brief prayer, all of the children, most of the housemothers, Scola, Moses, Gilbert and I set off on the bus to Njabini -- a field trip to the Flying Kites home in Njabini.  As I always do on Kenyan bus trips, I checked for my nearest emergency exits... and here was mine:

We didn't wind up needing to break any glass, but I DID worry a bit when the bus rocked not only forward and backward (in an attempt to extricate itself from the muddy rut below) but also side to side...

Wonderful Gilbert, though, led a crack team of pedestrians and other onlookers in an effort to refill the rut with available mud-chunks as we continued, inside the bus, to discuss our other transportation options. 

The gorgeous Rift Valley views from the previous hour's drive, it turns out, had energized us enough that we could all disembark and hike the rest of the way up the road to Flying Kites's compound, where our children and theirs had a bountiful picnic on the lawn!

They also had an invigorating walk through the countryside -- daring even to dip their feet into the icy river!

It was a glorious day! Many, many thanks to Brian and his volunteer team at Flying Kites for so generously hosting all of us. We look forward to many more events together!

We spent the day together in Cura, watching the rain create rivulets of muddy water and accumulate dirt into thick red blocks on the bottom of our shoes. We beaded, played Uno, and generally nursed some raw emotions as we prepared to say our goodbyes. 

It's never easy to leave, but each departure is made less threatening by the fact that promises to return are fulfilled... we're all looking ahead to the 2013 calendar for our next visit together!

With lots of hugs:

And poignant moments:

And a bag full of trinkets to distribute to pen pals... I said tutaonana tena (we will see each other again) instead of good bye.

Friday, June 22, 2012

On the Road Again

We had a Nairobi-based day today, but we'll get up VERY EARLY tomorrow to head to Cura... and then on to Njabini for a field day with all of our children and all of those who live at the home supported by Flying Kites. Watch this space for a full report upon my return to an internet connection!