It’s our tenth year working with Happy Life Mission and our ninth Christmas visit to the project in the suburb of Kasarani in Nairobi in Kenya. Only one COVID year prevented us from visiting these amazing kids. We were back last year and now in 2022 travel is almost back to normal. It’s an amazing way to spend Christmas and every year we’re humbled by the work this incredible project does. Happy Life Mission has now saved over nine hundred abandoned babies since it started in 2000 and is providing education for hundreds of children beyond Happy Life’s own one hundred and sixty four residents.
Happy Life rescues abandoned babies in Nairobi and works on getting them placed into a loving family via adoption. Many of the children end up staying with Happy Life and the program has grown from the humble beginnings of four kids in the founders own home, to a rescue centre with a capacity of sixty (infants up to toddlers) and two locations at Juja Farm – home to a little over one hundred school age kids from primary up to high school.
The program is twenty years old and we have seen a lot of change in the last decade with several schools, a hospital (The Jesse Kay Hospital) and a medical centre being added. We began as volunteers and mentors but over the years have created some fascinating projects.
In 2017 we secured what became a five year sponsorship from Zoom which transformed how Happy Life operated enabling them to host remote meeting saving tens of thousands of dollars a year in travel and time costs between the locations and staff. It became an vital resource when the pandemic hit.
In 2020 we launched #bookstotrees which funded one thousand trees which have been planted in the two locations in Juja Farm and our current project #bookstobooks contributes to the education programs with a share of all sales from our book website (MX Publishing).
In 2021 Happy Life managed to get an ambulance from a UK hospital trust and our supporters were able to make a contribution to getting it shipped across to Kenya. The ambulance not only supports Happy Life, but is regularly loaned out to the other hospitals in Nairobi providing a valuable income back to the Jesse Kay Hospital.
One of the amazing things about visiting every year is to see the kids we’ve meet in previous years. Ryan was just a few days old when we met him Christmas 2021.
We have a very special connection with our own sponsored child, Leah. She’s fourteen now and set to become a future leader with lots of energy and enthusiasm. She featured at the age of six on the cover of our book ‘The Happy Life Story‘
In 2021 one of our artists from our Art of Sherlock Holmes project (created and curated by Phil Growick) Christina Major created an amazing painting of Leah which sits in a gallery in Florida and hopefully will sell to a church or collector in the US – if anyone knows an organisation that may be interested in the painting please let us know.
More photos and videos to come from our visit next week – including the infamous Christmas party which, now with 160+ kids, is quite the feat of logistics.
You can read more about Happy Life Mission on their website.
A special thanks to the teams at Tungsten Network and Kofax for supporting me to work remotely from Kenya from mid-December. As Kenya is 3 hours ahead of the UK, I’m able to visit the kids in the mornings and get back online at the hotel by 9am for the UK day. Apart from the slightly distracting sound of crickets in the background on video calls in the evening, its a great remote work location.
By day Steve Emecz works in digital transformation for Tungsten Network (a Kofax company) and in his spare time is co-founder of MX Publishing with his wife Sharon. MX Publishing is a social enterprise supporting several projects – About Us.