Say Hello to Selvine


Tender hearted. Sensitive. Quiet.

Radiates with not only love and beauty but with hope.

A hope for a better future.

A hope that things will change.

A hope for opportunity.


Before Selvine moved into the orphanage she was living with her mother in Kipsongo. Kipsongo being one of the worst slums in Kenya and full of poverty, injustice and corruption.


After asking her what has changed in her life since moving to the orphanage she said “a lot.” She has starting going to school again, life has gotten easier, she worries less. She has felt real love for the first time. Feels safes and secure for the first time. Has a real bed and a bed of her own for the first time.

She tells me how she has never experience the feeling of love from a stranger until now. A stranger? “My sponsor.”

 With tears in her eyes she tells me, “If I could say anything to my sponsor I would first say thank you for this opportunity. I would say I love you. I would also tell her about my prayer. I pray that my siblings would come and stay at the orphanage with me. I really miss my sister.”


Sundays are her favorite. Sunday is church. Sunday is movie night. Sunday is a whole day to spend playing hide and seek with her best friends Emily and Maxmilla.

Favorite movie? Anything Disney.

Favorite color? Red.

Favorite food? Chapati.

Favorite game? Hide and seek.

Grade? Standard 3.

Favorite subject? Swahili.

Oh sweet Selvine, I can’t wait to see where you go!

Sarah Blevins

Thank you for posting this! Honestly, God couldn’t have sent it at a better time. Last night after a Parenting class at Church we were challenged to identify who we are and want to be as a family. We mentioned briefly that we wanted to give back and teach the kids to think globally. Then this post this morning gave us the best opportunity to talk with the kids more about Selvine and why we sponsor her and get more intentional in this Sponsorship in order to really make a difference. Tell her we said I and are sending her some mail this week!


Oh my word, please keep these coming. You just made my day…quite possibly my week. xo


What a darling beginning to a story of lovely lives.

Just Call Me Teacher

I had stopped at the Seed’s Academy yesterday morning to say hello but little did I know that I was going to be asked to be a substitute teacher for a lesson!

Many moons ago, childhood Kiara thought she wanted to be a teacher. I even enrolled in my first semester of college with a declared major of elementary education. Through high school I always knew I didn’t actually want to be in the classroom everyday for the rest of my life but by the time decision making came I just threw out the only career path I thought I could gain from attending IPFW. IPFW didn’t offer anything in the fashion/clothing world or the travel to third world countries field..the only things I could see myself actually doing. (After a semester and a half I hated everything about school..and dropped out. But not to worry, if I hadn’t dropped out I wouldn’t be where I am today!)



Showed up at the school this morning and made my way around the school saying my hello’s and sharing hugs. I made it to headmistress’s office when she popped the question. At first I said no. I was afraid she was going to ask me to teach something that I wasn’t going to remember how to do..haha, it was 3rd grade. After being laughed at for my excuse, I said yes.

I was given a workbook with exercises to write on the board and then have volunteers come up and fill in the answers. Sounds easy, right? Well, five minutes in and there was a mob of children surrounding the blackboard all begging to get to go next. Knowing I had to gain control, I shouted for everyone to get back in their seats and only the person I called on could walk up to the board. Everyone was a little shocked (a few kids even laughed) at my shouting but they quickly returned to their seats and then threw their hands in the air for me to call their name.

After the first few exercises the kids seemed to be confused. (Which is funny because every time a new problem was put on the blackboard everyone would raise their hand begging to come up but then they wouldn’t know what to do) I asked if they had already learned what we were doing. After getting no response, I called on someone and asked them if their teacher had taught them how to do these problems yet. They said yes but that they didn’t understand it. So, trying to think like a third grader I starting explaining what we were doing and why. And to my surprise, they actually understood. (Seriously though, I was so proud that what I was saying was actually making sense! Maybe I really could do the teaching thing? Haha, no way. I don’t actually think I have to patience or the drive to return to a classroom everyday)

So, one math lesson later and everyone is now calling me teacher!

I may not be a big fan of nicknames but I think I’ll take ‘Kiki’ back and leave ‘teacher’ to the actual educators.





“You look very smart today”

It’s a simple phrase.
It’s easily understood.
It’s a nice compliment.
It’s such a common thing to hear come from the mouth of a Kenyan.
It’s sweet to the ears.
It’s a little different to the ears, but I like it.


I love it for so many reasons.
I love that it’s different.
I love that it’s unexpected.
I love where it makes my mind wander.

I love that dressing well is associated with being intelligent.
Looking well and taking pride in your appearance usually stems from having self-worth.
And where there is self-worth and intelligence there is usually also empowerment.
And is there anything more beautiful than finding empowered people not just in Africa but..anywhere?

Intelligence is beauty.
Self-worth is beautiful.
And there is nothing more beautiful.

Be smart.
Be empowered.
And never forget it.
(And once you feel it, share it with others)


Awesome & Amazing

(I thought it would be fun to hear from someone else on here..I’m sure you guys would love a little break from my ramblings and opinions and hear from someone else for a change. Hoping to share a few more posts from my fellow Kenya friends in the next couple weeks too! -Kiara)

Wow…where to begin?!  My two visits to the Seeds Children’s Home have been awe-inspiring.  For me, it’s all about the children.  These beautiful, energetic children who once struggled in the slums of Kitale now have a chance to thrive and to succeed.  They are in a safe place, their bellies are full and they are loved.  What child, anywhere on the planet, doesn’t deserve to be safe, fed and loved?  Every child deserves these things…and more.

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When I think about where these precious children came from, their situations, the abuses they have suffered, I am saddened and humbled.  I try to avoid thinking about their past, honestly.  I recognize that each of them has a story, and part of that story is difficult and painful.  But I know their story doesn’t define them.  It is part of who they are and who they will become, but their true story is just beginning.  I try to concentrate on their present and their future.

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In the present, they are blessed with the ability to go to school.  So many of the new girls who now live in the Mighty Acorn house told me their favorite thing about the orphanage was getting an education.  I was expecting the answer to the “What’s your favorite thing?” question to be “All my new friends!” or “My new bed!” or “Mama Irene’s kale and ugali!”   But, no, they were happy to be able to attend school and learn something new every day.  And I think that is awesome.

In the present, they are safe.  They are removed from the daily threat of emotional and physical abuse, sexual exploitation, hunger and illness.  They are safe and they are allowed to be children.  On my most recent visit, I witnessed a very complex game in the courtyard of the orphanage.  It involved teams of running/screaming/laughing girls, the tossing of balls, the stacking of corn cobs and the dismantling of the corn cob stack(presumably by the opposing team).  I never did figure out the exact rules of the game but I so enjoyed watching the children be children.

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In the present, they have faith.  Each evening the children gather in a massive group of concentric circles to speak their devotions…which basically involves singing, clapping, dancing and one child reading a bible verse and explaining it to the rest of the crowd.  Their lives are no longer filled with desperation and despair but are now overflowing with togetherness, faith and hope.  It warms my heart to see them all holding hands…one giant family facing the future together.

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And who knows what their future will be?  It’s so exciting to think of the possibilities!  Eric finished high school last year…the first child from the orphanage to graduate from high school.  He then took a course of study (I imagine it to be the equivalent of Junior College in the US) in agriculture and horticulture.  He still lives at the orphanage, but works each day as a gardener at a guest house in town.  He is currently preparing the land behind the guest house for a green house.  So he will be in charge of the grounds of the guest house and his very own green house…and he is VERY excited!  I’m just so happy for him…that he has the opportunity for a bright future.


And there are many to follow Eric.  The next young man to graduate was Newton Kioko.  He finished high school this year and recently took the Kenyan university entrance examination.  He is waiting for his scores and will soon find out if college is part of his future!  What an exciting time for a young man who, ten years ago, was being cared for by a grandmother who was unable to provide for his most basic needs.  He came to the orphanage and blossomed into one of the brightest students in his class.  And now may be the first to attend university.

So…to speak of the future for these beautiful boys and girls.  Who knows?  Jobs, university, the possibilities are endless!  The point is not whether a child becomes a gardener or a teacher or a doctor.  The point is that, because of the orphanage…because they are educated, safe, loved and nourished in body and spirit, they have opportunity to realize their potential.  And that, my friend, is a beautiful thing.

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I would be remiss if I did not mention how amazed I am by the compassion of David and Denise DeMarchis.  Their generous gift has enriched the lives of not only the 100 children currently living in the orphanage but the countless other children who will follow…as well as every person touched by this experience.  My trips to Kitale have inspired me and fulfilled me in ways I never knew were possible.  I am so thankful for the DeMarchis’ vision in creating a home where these precious children can enjoy the present and explore their futures.

-Tish Teel

That Girl.

Have you ever been that girl?

You know, the girl that everyone knows, the girl that just mysteriously fits in, the girl who seems to know everyone and everyone seems to know her, that girl that is always just there doing her own thing?

 If you’re anything like me, you’ve never been that girl.

 And I haven’t, until now.

My Girl

(This photo is totally unrelated, but I love it & this girl so I thought I’d share it anyways)

It was after the rest of the MA team had left. I was left alone in Kitale and was still staying at the Karibuni Lodge. After dinner one night (which I had eaten alone..for the first time), I was sitting on the porch working on my computer minding my own business when the thought first hit me. On the porch I was joined by several other people, a team that had just arrived in Kitale who I didn’t know but who were also staying at the Buni. As I was sitting and minding my own business Teresa had come out to serve the other team when she turned to me and introduced me to the group, “…and this is Kiara, who lives here in Kitale and works at a children’s home nearby..I’m sure you’ll see more of here during your stay..” And just like that it sealed the deal, I was that girl.

And the best part? I liked it.

I liked being that girl that just belonged there. The one that lived there. I was a girl worth mentioning. A face they would see more of and had a purpose in Kitale.

I like being that girl, silly as it is.