29 Aug August: Winter In Our Homes
We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:19
While our family in the northern hemisphere is enjoying their summer months and high temperatures, our kids and staff in Kenya are bundling up and welcoming the winter and rainy months. Considering Kenya lies on the equator of Africa’s east coast, temperatures are somewhat moderate year-round (compared to winter in the United States) and rarely fall below the 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
The school system in Kenya is also slightly different from what we’re used to in the United States. All throughout August, our kids have been enjoying a month-long winter break between their second and third term in school. This means that all of our kids who are in boarding school came home and reconnected with the rest of our family, which is always a treat.
Nothing Like a Warm Welcome
It is a known fact that Kenyan culture is one of warmth, community, love and support. Our kids look forward to welcoming guests into our homes but nothing can compare to the excitement there is when our older kids come back home from boarding school for a few days. Upon arrival, the returning kids are showered in hugs from their younger siblings, Uncles, and Aunties and are welcomed with special meal made with love from our cooks. Every time the kids come back home from boarding school, they will ask the cooks to prepare Chapati. They believe our cooks prepare the best chapati, which they definitely do.
As our kids grow, we are grateful for every moment we get to spend with them in the homes. Having the boarding school kids back during their winter break gives Aunties and Uncles the opportunity to check-in with them and make sure they feel supported in every way possible. There are often times that the help from those close to us is not enough and in those cases, we connect our kids with professional counsellors to talk about anything they have going on and bring some peace to their minds.
It is also common for schools in Kenya to give kids homework during their breaks to reinforce information or prepare them for what is to come in the following term. It brings us joy to see our kids come together, learn from each other and lift each other up towards growth. Some kids like Grace in Kitalale and Baraka in Kukuyu enjoy helping the younger kids and mentoring them on tricky subjects like math and sciences.
Bundling Up During the Cold Months
The wintertime temperature in Kenya averages to 60 degrees and it is by no means comparable to winter in Colorado. Because of the rain, many activities get taken indoors and our kids get cozy by the fireplace. Some of our kids, especially the younger ones, will wear up to five layers of clothing during the winter months to keep warm. You can often spot little bundles of joy covered from head to toe toddling around the home. Aside from the brand-new outfit each kid receives for Christmas, Irene and Lilian, Aunties at our Kikuyu and Kitalale homes, are our savvy shoppers in charge of purchasing any additional clothes needed. The second-hand clothing business is so big in Kenya that both Irene and Lilian will visit the shops regularly to find good deals and high-quality clothes.
Winter Time Activities
During their break, kids are assigned chores to help the Aunties and Uncles with any pending tasks around the home. Tasks vary but they typically involve helping the cooks in the kitchen, cleaning the home, feeding the cows or babysitting the younger kids. By helping with the chores, the kids learn about responsibility, accountability and the value of teamwork.
Once finished with their chores, kids are free to play soccer or, when it’s raining, bring activities indoors. Throughout the years, volunteers have brought board games like chess, Jenga or chutes and ladders as gifts for the homes. In both of our homes, our older kids playing chess, while the younger ones play connect four and bingo. The Aunties and Uncles use this time to connect with the kids and will often jump in to play Monopoly or Connect Four.
On chilly days, our kids tend to pick up a book and read by the fireplace which has a jiko, a small round-shaped metallic portable stove with handles that is used to hold burning charcoal and heat up the home. In the evenings, our family will gather to cuddle, warm each other up and as a special occasion, watch a movie with popcorn.
Earlier this year, the kids in our Kikuyu home planted some crops with the help of Uncle Sam. With August marking the start of the harvest season in Kenya, our little agriculturists have been excited to see their hard work flourish into produce for the home.
Different seasons call for different crops. During the winter months, we have more maize (corn) which our kids love. Philip, Esther, Naomi Cherop and Aaron in our Kitalale home love eating it roasted or boiled. When maize is taken off the cob and laid out to dry, it can be ground up into a cornmeal-like consistency to make Ugali, a traditional Kenyan dish which all of our kids and staff love.
In September, our kids will be going back to school for their last term before the end of the school year. They have all been working incredibly hard throughout the school year and during their winter break to finish the year strong. Education is a right and we believe in empowering our kids with the best education available in Kenya.