Be the Change You Want to See.

Like I said, the three of us (Jenni, DW & I)  were going to be doing more interviews and photo taking to add more kids to the MA website. We didn’t waste any time and jumped back into the interviewing our second day into this trip. Since we didn’t have as much time in Kitale together as we had planned we knew we didn’t have any spare time to waste.

Interviews are such a bitter sweet thing, for me at least. It’s the first time meeting someone you know your heart is about to break for. It’s hearing their story that confirms why you love Kenya as much as you do. It’s falling for yet another beautiful smile and tender soul that needs all the love it can get.

 Interviews are hard. They are hard to listen to and even harder when you know you have at least a couple dozen more to get through each day. It’s hard listening to each story and finding they are so similar but it’s a different child sitting before you. A child. Children aren’t meant to be living these lives. They aren’t meant to grow up at such a young age. They are just childrenChildren.

MA Boys

I often think about the life I have been given. The opportunities that have been presented to me, already at the young age of 22. The life experiences I have had. The struggles and challenges I have faced. The struggles and challenges I have overcome. But none of them surmount to anything close to what these children have. I have never wondered when the next meal would come. Worried if I would find a safe place to lay my head at night. If I would be beaten or abused when my guardian came home. I have never had to worry that my mother or father may not come home at night. I have never had to wonder if I would be in school the following year, never had to worry if there would be the money to go to school. I have never had to work a field to make money to send myself to school.

And until this past year, I was oblivious to such a world. A world where children are born and raised like adults. Forced to grow up too fast. Born into a corrupt world surrounded in poverty.

Sometimes I let this get my down. Let it weigh on my heart. Let it affect me more than it has to. And how could I not? Well, it doesn’t always have to be like this. There is a way WE can make a change. A way for us to stand up and say NO to the corruption. Say NO for the children who can’t. Say no for the children we have just met and for the ones we have yet to meet. And that’s exactly what I am going to do. Exactly what the Mighty Acorn Foundation is doing. It’s what you can do too.

Ever heard that saying, “Be the change you want to see“. Well, why not? Why not be that change?

You can be the change in a child’s life. The change they need more than anything. The change that will set them free from the worry and fear. Let them be just the children they are meant to be.

-Kiara

Always on My Mind..

I constantly have Kenya on my mind.

I constantly think of Kitale; that town that I fell for just a year ago.

I think about all those little faces that belong to the children that hold such large pieces of my heart.

I think of the stories I’ve heard and the people who have lived them.

I think of two of the most loving, humble and giving people I know. I think of Richard and Hellen.

I think about the new house and then the other two most loving, humble and giving people I know. I think of my friends, David and Denise.

I think about the Mighty Acorn Foundation.

I think about what it means to me; what it means to be just a small part of it.

I think about how I don’t deserve Kenya and all the love that I have received from the people who call it home.

I don’t deserve to be the one to wake up and spend my days by those children’s sides.

I don’t deserve to get to see the hope, safety and love that YOU guys have provided to them.

But I do.

And I will forever be thanking  you. Thanking the sponsors that have changed the lives of children they have yet to meet.

To those who have decided to stand beside us and stand up against the injustice that plagues this world.

I thank you everyday for being the change in these children’s lives.

For showing them that there is still hope, love and safety in this world for them.

That there are people out there that will do without so they can live in that place of hope, safety and love.

That chasing their dreams isn’t just meant for their imagination.

That someday they can catch up with their dreams and make them a reality.

And I have YOU to thank for all of that.

I have you to thank for making MY dreams come true.

IMG_3926

-Kiara

Solitaire

Beautiful!

Mama Hope

Just … WOW! I feel like you drew a picture of your heart …

Where is Home?

Have you ever been between jobs or between homes or about to start a new chapter in life? Have you had that feeling that you just didn’t quite belong where you were but you knew as soon as you started that new job or got to that new chapter you would finally be where you were meant to be? Where you were created to be. Where you had dreamed of being for what felt like all of your life?

That’s exactly where I am.

I know where I am supposed to be.

I know what I am meant to be doing.

MA Girls

After finally making that journey to Kitale, Kenya just a couple weeks ago, I thought I had finally made it home. To the home that I had visited so many times now but was finally going to call home sweet home. We had gotten off on a rough start with trouble with luggage, then a delay in Amsterdam and then a lost piece of luggage that was essential for DW and Jenni‘s trip but after almost FIVE days of travel were finally to our favorite little town, Kitale.

The day before we left for Kenya, we had seen on the news that there was a hostage situation taking place in Nairobi. We had thought things would resolve before we would arrive. We were wrong, and that’s why we made our little pitstop in Amsterdam. We took those extras days to really evaluate the situation and make sure things were safe enough for us to travel through Nairobi. When things started winding down we all agreed to push on. We spent a little less than 24 hours in Nairobi before taking our final flight into Eldoret. We all knew that once we had made our way to Kitale we would be safe and had little to worry about.

We spent just a couple days in Kitale before deciding that I would be coming home with the other ladies. After chatting with the US Sate Department and family back home, we all decided it would be best to bring me home and make sure things would continue to cool down. I’ve been home for just a couple weeks and I am already wishing I was back in Kitale. Wishing I was hanging out with your girls and BOYS! Wishing I was spending my days at the academy and my nights playing beside the girls.

Since being home, random people have asked me where home is..you know, those random people in line at Target or stranger that thinks it’s ok to come over and chat with you while you’re reading at Starbucks..anyways, it always takes me a second to respond. So much of me wants to be able to say Kenya is home. And it is, but for now I am still living in Indiana. (Kind of, if you can count living off of just the two suitcases I return with actually living in Indiana) And so, I have to tell them Indiana is home. Indiana has been home for the past 22 years but  soon it won’t be. And nothing could make me happier than finally being in Kitale..for good.

Selfie

IMG_0092IMG_0059IMG_0159IMG_0314IMG_0291

IMG_0370IMG_0275IMG_0262IMG_0163IMG_0052

I’ve heard it said that home is where you heart is..and my heart was introduced to Kenya just a year ago and it left a piece of it there and has lost more and more pieces of it with every trip. While my body may be in Indiana my heart still lays in Kenya.

-Kiara 

Brandi

Although I only met you briefly at art fair on the 2nd round. I am so glad I got to hug your neck. Thank you for sharing your stories and being a window into a world I’ve only heard about. I feel so fortunate to be a part if the mighty acorn foundation and I look forward to watch the impact you have on those kids grow daily. I can’t wait to see the plans God has for you and our little Agnes. I have her picture up in my daughter Savannah’s room and we pray for her every night. Stay safe Kiara.

Love
Brandi

Some Nights I Stay Up….

BLOG

The past few nights I have been up with my head spinning. Okay, who am I kidding, the past month since I have been home from MD Anderson have been tough. I feel almost like I have been in a coma. Yes, the reason I have not blogged in forever.

Then 2 nights ago, I got up and had the worst bone pain. I described it to David as “you know when you ski all day, and you get home and your feet and legs feel frostbit? They hurt to the core, you take a hot bath and they still burn?” Ya, it is like that, and then factor in the non stop feeling of you are going to puke along with the sensation someone just kicked you in the stomache. Oh, and let’s not forget the comatose feeling of like “why am I just floating around with no ambition or drive?” If this is my “new” normal, I can’t handle it.  I have never had less energy or motivation. It is a little overwhelming this “me, I call Denise”.

Slumdd

So it’s about 1am and it’s the night I stay up cashing in my bad luck, giving myself a pity party. Ridiculous but so much needed. Then it happens. I think of my girls. My girls from MJC all the way to Peru all the way to Kitale. I think of the little ones we met that had no time to cash in on their bad luck, they only knew of hope, love, prayer and belief that things would get better. I think of the day Hellen told me she found out one of the girls was HIV positive and she wasn’t sure how to break the news to her. I think of Anne’s mom who was sick when we visited and passed away a couple months later.

I think of them because here I am in an amazing house, at the best hospitals, a hot bath filled with “stress free” salts and a cabinet filled with any type of medicine I need to cure my littlest of aches and then I hop into my fluffy bed with nice crisp sheets, face my fan on me and call it a day.

I think of me and I think RIDICULOUS. Chin up, and remember if cancer had not entered my life I’d be working 80hrs seven days a week. I’d be telling my boys for the umph time “just a minute” as I answer my phone. RIDICULOUS. I love the new me and if it is cancer and bone pain that made it this way, then I need to fluff up my bed and be thankful I’ve got the everything around me pushing me forward and watching and cheering and praying for this cancer to get out of me.  And it is working. It really is.

I think of my girls in Kitale. I think AMAZING. Their happiness is contagious. I want their happiness and cancer brought me to that road.

DSC_9895-copy-3

But I also think of their pain. I know their pain. I know it better than I ever could have. Imagine getting HIV, malaria or even the worst flu you have ever had. You are not crawling into that fluffy bed, you are crawling into a ball on a slab of cold ground in hopes you have a blanket. You are not running into your clean bathroom to get cooled off nor hope you don’t puke, you are huddled in that corner with a bag you found in the trash because you are afraid to go outside in the middle of the night to go to “the bathroom”. When you are a girl in the slums you have no idea what is going to happen to you when you leave that one little corner you have.  You don;t  run down to your fridge to get ice water, you have no fridge, let alone kitchen. Heck and medicine to cure whatever, it’s no where to be found. You just live with the pain until who knows….

Slumgirlsweb

I know, I sound deep but it is so true. It’s that place I went to the other night during my pity party that made me realize I’ve got stuff to do. We’ve got stuff to do. So heck, Denise, get up and stop fussing over every ache and pain. And I did. The next day and now 2 days in, I’m vowing to get to that better place. The girls need me. They need you.

And it was just over a year, (July 30, to be exact) that I called Charlotte and told her David and I would build the Orphanage. It hasn’t even been a year since Denise W, Kiara, Jami, Jenni and David decided to step in an figure how to get these girls sponsored so they could live in the Mighty Acorns Orphanage.

Untitled-3

Look at this place. Almost complete and busting at the seems. Girls just started moving in late August. Most of them have their first EVER  mattress, sheets, pillow and blanket. And on top of that, they have a bathroom and shower. They have a room mom who will nurture them and help them grow. ABOVE ALL THEY NOW HAVE YOUR BELIEF IN THEM. I cannot believe I missed seeing their faces when they got your letters, seeing their faces when they saw your family photos and sweet pics your kids colored. Oh, Kiara, you cannot get back to Kitale soon enough.  I’m so bummed about all the evil war and terrorist stuff. Seriously, why do bad guys have to ruin it for us good guy who wants to help.

We won’t let them win, and Kiara will be back with her kids soon, and yours.

So with that said, I must say good night.

X0X0- Denise

 

 

They Call Her Kiki, I call her Kiara…


A pillar of:

Independence. Fearlessness. Determination. Generosity. Creativity

Because we all know there is more than meets the eye with you.  Give us a little history on Kiki!

A: Well, after saving this question for last I think it’s more easily answered by reading the rest of my answers to the other questions..

Q:  When and how did you come to find Matilda Jane?

A: I joined the MJC family in 2009 as a high school intern and never left. I started as an intern that glued pin packs to flowers a few hours every morning and at the end of the semester didn’t want to part with my new friends at MJC so I worked part-time as a packer and puller until I got the privilege to work with Sam and Denise in the cutting room and the rest is history. I finished high school and tried the whole college thing for a semester until I dropped out to work full time. I went from working with Sam in the cutting room to running the Platinum department with a few of my best friends in a matter of years.Q:  For those who don’t know, where is your next big adventure taking place?

A:  Kitale, Kenya. (Africa)

Q:  Africa is definitely in your blood.  When did you know you would do anything for the opportunity to live over there?

A: Since I was young the idea of being in Africa has always appealed to me. In May of 2012 Denise sent me on my first trip to Africa. After visiting Rwanda and working with the women there I knew it was what I was meant to do. I came home and was determined to get myself back to Africa one way or another. A few months later Denise sent me a text asking if I wanted to go to Kenya with her and a few of her friends..of course I said YES. And it was on that trip that I knew Kitale, Kenya was where I wanted to be and nothing would make me happier than loving on the kids and people of that small town that I had fallen head of heels for the second we pulled into the orphanage and were surrounded by all the beautiful children.Q:  What is it that makes you love this far away country so much that, you are willing to leave your friends, your family and a wonderful job?  I’m pretty sure I know the answer, but we all want to know. ;-)

A: The kids. The people. They easily win you over with a smile. And there’s no stopping them from stealing pieces of your heart with every single smile, giggle and/or hug. But then they break your heart with their stories and you fall even more for them. And you’re left lost in love with a beautiful country full of beautiful people that were born into a hard life but still radiate so much more love, hope, happiness and joy than you would think was possible. And that’s just one of the reason why I love Kenya and why I am willing to walk away from my comfortable life here to try and make even the tiniest dent in the lives that I come in contact with.

Q:   What does the Mighty Acorn house symbolize to you?

A: “Just as the acorn contains the mighty oak tree, the self has everything it needs to fulfill its destiny. When the inner conditions are right, it naturally emerges.” –Derek Rydall By providing the girls with a safe home, love and a hope for a better life I think it symbolizes those inner conditions being right. I hope that by providing the girls with the everyday needs that start with a safe home to live in along with love, hope and an education they will be able to blossom into the women they hope to be and chase the dreams they thought would never be possible instead of the destiny they once thought they were doomed for!Q:  Where will you live while you are in Kenya?

A:  I will be living in the Mighty Acorn house with all the girls and can’t wait! (In my own room though)

Q:  How do you plan on connecting families with their sponsored child?  Why is this so important to you?

A:  I plan on connecting in anyway that is possible and necessary to build a true and lasting relationship between the families and their child whether that is letter writing, emailing, Skying or phone calls or any other ways that we think of. This is the most important part of my job and the part that I am most passionate about. Like I said, you will easily fall for the kids with a simple smile or giggle or hug and I want to do everything I can to make these girls feel special, loved and worthy and am willing to do whatever it takes for them to feel all those things and more from their families by providing that connection between the two. And I’m always open to ideas on how do this even better..so never hesitate to share if you’ve got ideas or thoughts on how to make this better!Q:  How will sponsoring a Mighty Acorn change a life?  Can you give us an example of life as they know it and how it will be forever changed?

A:  Imagine you have been born and raised into a world that it surrounded by total and complete poverty. You wake up in the same dirt that seems to cover every surface of the city you call home. You live with a handful of other siblings that share that same dirt as a bed. You once had parents that you haven’t seen in so long you can’t even remember what they look like. Parents that have been gone for so long that you aren’t even sure if you still have any. You and your siblings do anything and everything you can to find food and just survive day to day life in the Kipsongo slum. BUT one day an American woman and her friends visit and fall in love and go home and share you story with their friends and they all want to do something to change the life you thought you were destine for and they CHANGE that destiny. They provide you with a safe place to not only lay your head at night but also the love, education, hope and opportunity you thought was only possible in your dreams. But now it’s a reality and you are forever change. Kenya is one person closer to a better place.

Q:  Who has been the greatest influence in your life?

A:  I could easily just say the Lord but not only Him but also the my parents and other individuals He has put in my life that constantly point me back to Him and have encouraged me to never give up on my dreams no matter how impossible they seem at the time.

Q:  If you were to be granted one wish, what would it be?

A:  I would wish for a better life and opportunity from the begging for all the kids in Kenya..and the rest of the world.

Q:  You are one of the most independent, strong and determined young women I know.  Where do you find the strength to follow your dreams and stand by your convictions?

A:  The one and only provided or true strength and hope, the Lord.Q:  What frivolous pleasure will be the hardest to leave behind?

A:  Starbucks Coffee. No doubt.

Q:  What are five adjectives your friends would use to describe you?

A:  I text a group of my friends and these are the 5 that were named the most.

Independent. Fearless. Determined. Generous. Creative.

Q:  What is your favorite memory from childhood?

A:  Memory? Disney World, of course. haha. But Seriously, the best part of my childhood is that I was born into a Christian home and was raised by two parents that loved me unconditionally (and still do) and reminded me everyday that Christ has given me my talents and personality traits for a reason and through Him all things are possible..even my dreams to impact Africa somehow.   Q:  What is your favorite Matilda Jane memory?

A:  I think it’d be impossible to narrow it down to just one! The past few years have been the most growing, challenging and fun years of life so far. I have built friendships that will last until the end. I’ve found another family of people that will forever hold a part of my heart. Dropping out of college for this company was the best decision I’ve ever made. Denise has taught me all about being a leader, a hard worker, an independent strong willed women while doing all those things with good character and a generous heart.

Q:  We are all going to miss you so much!  Tell us how you plan on keeping us involved and informed throughout your journeys.

A:  I’m a huge fan of Instagram and will continue to post from both my personal account (kiaraamstutz) and the Mighty Acorn account (mightyacrons). I also have a personal blog (theycallmekiara.blogspot.com) that I post on regularly. We also hope to have a Mighty Acorn blog set up as soon as possible so you can follow along there too! I’ll be sure to share the link as soon as it’s up and running.

Julida

Love Love Love Simply Love