March 2018 Update
It continues to be an interesting, challenging, rewarding and evolving journey for us as we move into our eighth year. While itís been around two years since my last update (so sorry), the wheels have still been turning over as we venture into new territory this year. Our focus on sustainability is in full force with some exciting new partnerships; we have gained tax deductibility status in Australia; welcomed new staff members and new children and had the first of our young adults finishing High School and beginning our transition program.
Child Sponsorship Program
Our Sponsorship program is going well. We now have 41 kids in our program with four in Primary School, 24 in High School, two heading towards Vocational Studies, two in a Special Needs Centre, four starting our Transition Program and five about to start in Term 2 this year, all across 23 different schools in all corners of Kenya. Needless to say, our small team of three have had their hands full!

The children have been progressing well as we all continue to adapt to the everchanging environment and the childrenís needs. As you can imagine with so many teenagers on our hands, we have had a few ups and downs along the way, but the children continue to inspire us and the work we do. We have had our first school captain, seven children accepted into National schools (some of the highest performing schools in Kenya) and three represent their schools at sporting carnivals or academic events.

Our Sponsor Program encompasses a personal-centred approach and can look quite different for each child involved. While we provide all the necessaries for schooling, we also take a holistic approach with each child, teaching them life skills, providing mentorship, counselling, leadership training and opportunities to get involved in projects in the local community. This year we have begun our Transition Program, a program where we work with each young adult individually. Depending on where they are at in their lives and what they are striving towards we can assist them with further education, vocational training, assistance in find work, accommodation, gaining a drivers licence and other short courses to up skill them as they start their journey in life after High School.

Within our program, there continues to be a financial strain on us to be able to do the best we can for the kids. Our travel costs have increased dramatically with the amount of schools our kids are now spread across as well as ongoing administration costs and the loss of some sponsors has given us many concerns over our financial sustainability in this program. We are currently reaching out for new sponsors, organisational partnerships/sponsorships and one-off donations due to the ever-increasing prices to keep this program running. Please contact me directly, make a donation or visit our website for more information if you are able to assist in any way, as mentioned above all donations in Australia are now tax deductable!

Kenyan Team
This year our small team of three is going to double in size to six! We have recently welcomed Jemima our Project Coordinator to investigate opportunities for us to build a firm base of self-sustainable projects to cover our ever-increasing administration costs once and for all. While we have attempted a few projects already, have just have not had the manpower on the ground to sustain this as well as ongoing procedures that are outside of our control that has severely impacted our ability to move forward. Jemima has already proven to be a brilliant addition to our small team as she begins a new agriculture project on our land with a small grant we have received to build a small home and get the first round of crops in the ground. We really want to build this into a project that completely moves us away from donor dependency. We are currently searching for possible partnership/sponsorship/grants of around $5000 to really be able to build this into a worthwhile project. If anyone has any contacts or knows of possible partnerships (remember companies in Australia can claim as tax deductions), please pass on my details so we can share our business plan for the project.

The other two staff members soon to join our team will be a Farmhand who will reside on the land to maintain this project and a Business Development Officer from a recent partnership we are beginning with Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) in Kenya. We have been working closely with WSUP over the last six months to develop a new program that provides opportunities for disadvantaged youth to gain employment and business skills while at the same time promoting health and sanitation to communities with affordable soap products. Currently this program is separately funded through our partnership and we are aiming to be in full swing mid year. It will be the perfect starting point for our children leaving High School to be able to work while they wait for universities or colleges to begin.

Other News
We have held another two Annual Christmas Appeals which has enabled us to give the children at the rescue centres we work closely a special day filled with food, fun and laughter. Last year we also had a good friend of Friends Vision volunteer and reach out to many different childrenís centres around Kenya with his pretty amazing Santa suit. There was certain a lot of joy spread around, check out of Facebook page for the photos. We will need to find new ways to spread the word for next Christmas as our last appeal came $800 under budget.
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