What This Tours’ All About

One thing I’ve discovered in life is that fundraising is flippin’ hard work. You have to fight every other charity for the same dollar and the loudest voice is the one that gets heard. When you have a zero marketing budget and no paid staff it takes a lot longer to get anything done.

Looking at several organisations who have work in East Africa I’ve seen there’s two ways to keep afloat:

  1. Have a team in your home country that are fundraising while you on foreign soil are implementing the project
  2. You spend a third of your time fundraising.

I would love to employ a team in Australia, New Zealand, Kenya and the US who would spread the word about our projects in East Africa. That means we could focus on developing working team here and increase our projects.

However, it’s not about to happen overnight.


So, this Sunday, we head for six weeks to the US. It’s definitely not going to be a holiday. To me a holiday is finding a beach, sitting in cafes, going to the movies, staying up late and sleeping in.

For six weeks we will be speaking in schools, universities and churches telling our story. On top of that we have one on one meetings with old friends as well as connecting with people who run projects over here to see how we can partner together.

To be honest, I think we’re all looking forward to the change in scenery.

They say ‘a change is as good as a holiday’. This year has had quite a few challenges and it will be nice to have a different focus for a few weeks.

I’ve done 7 weeks of a speaking tour before and know that after talking about the work for so long all you want to do is get back into it. Lugging suitcases, laptops, camera gear and items for sale is never fun. We often travel by buses and trains, planes only when the budget allows it.


This trip has been funded by our daughter. We get the privilege of staying at friends houses on their sofas, mattress on the floor or if we’re really lucky, in a bed. A few cities we are going to we will be staying in 2 star hotels. While I always check out the reviews, many times they scare me. I worry we’ll end up in some dive of a place that is absolutely horrific. So far we haven’t had too dodgy a deal. I figure that we are only there to sleep so how bad can it get?

Years ago some people had booked a hotel for me in New York City. Unfortunately it was directly across the road from a 24 hour mechanics bay which mainly dealt in taxis. Getting sleep was not an option.

One thing I am looking forward to is getting out and walking at night. Even after three years of being here in Nairobi I still miss the chance in getting out at night because of security. I know no place is totally safe but the thought of getting the opportunity is just awesome.

However, I’m not looking forward to the temperature drop that we will experience from 10 – 20 degrees celcius below what we are currently getting!


What I do know is that the future is in the hands of our youth. If we can inform them and then empower them to bring about positive change.

hand game

Here’s the itinerary so you can send us messages, happy thoughts and prayers. We’re leaving our work in Kenya in the hands of our very capable team and look forward to hering from them on some of the very cool things they’ve done while we’re away.

Next time you hear from us, we’ll be wazungu (foreigners) in a slightly different country.



18th    Fly out of JKIA at 10.50am

19th    Arrive in NYC at 2.15pm

20th    Day to sort out our resources, phones and catch up on some sleep

21st    Nord Anglia International School

22nd   Academy of St Joseph

23rd   Elizabeth Irwin High School

24th   One on one meetings

25th   Bridge Community Church

26th   Travel by bus from NYC to Toronto, Canada

27th   Meet with Canadian friends

28th   Meet with Canadian friends

29th   Meet with Canadian friends

30th  Travel by bus from Toronto to Columbus, Ohio

31st   Day off


1st    Meetings

2nd   Connect with partners

3rd    Connect with future partners

4th    Travel by plane from Columbus to Dallas, Texas

5th    Individual meetings

6th    White North Rock School

7th    Travel by bus from Dallas, to Houston, Texas

8th    Lakewood Church

9th    Individual meetings

10th   Individual meetings

11th   Veterans Day

12th   St. John’s School

13th    Individual meetings

14th   Day off

15th    Individual meetings

16th   Travel by plane from Houston to Washington D.C

17th   Blessed Sacrament School

18th   Individual meetings

19th   Howard University School of Law

20th   Bus from Washington D.C. to NYC

21st   Metro Ministries

22nd   Day off

23rd    Bus from NYC to Philidelphia

24th    Individual meetings

25th    Ride back to NYC

26th    Thanksgiving day

27th    Individual meetings

28th    Depart NYC at 4.30pm

I Want To Help The Poor

Last week we had a friend from Australia come and visit for a few days before she moved on to look at other projects in Kenya.

She said something on the first day that I’ve heard many a time over the years “We’d better get busy, I’m here to help the poor.”

While I knew what she meant, it got me thinking about how we think about what we think helping others actually is.

In the West we have the mentality to put a band aid on something and walk away. Or, we write a cheque because it’s the easiest way for us to ‘deal with it’.

Not that there’s anything wrong with handing out money but is it really the answer?

Most weeks I get the privilege of going to the Kibera Slum. The reason I say privilege, is because as a white person by myself, it would be unwise and it wouldn’t be safe for me, but with one of our friends, I am fine. It’s not that they don’t like white people, but they’re over white people coming in buses, taking photos and leaving. They’re over white people telling them what to do.

They just want to get on with their lives and make the best of what’s been dealt to them.

I look at the slum of nearly a million people and how much money has been poured into that place over the years and wonder what impact it has made. And yet I see glimmers of hope.


How can we make a real impact on people:

1. Learn about the people you want to help

Do you remember their name or just their need? How can we tell people we care if we don’t know who we’re talking about? Our motto should always be ‘People matter most’. Leave the programs up to those living on the ground long term.

Ask people “What is your dream for your children?” They will be more than willing to tell you. For most it will be that they want their children to go to school and have a better life than what they did.

girlchild2. Learn their story

Everyone has a story but not everyone has a voice. Our job is to give them a platform to be heard.

When I lived in Sydney, Australia I was studying for my MBA and needed to go into the city to buy a $120 textbook for a subject. I was walking through an area called Martin Place at lunchtime and threw $5 into a bowl by a homeless lady who was sitting on the footpath. I went on my merry way and then this thought came to me ‘what a fat lot of difference that made’. I knew what I had to do. I went and bought my book, dropped into a friends million dollar jewellery store for a chat and went back to Martin Place. In my mind I was kind of hoping the lady was still there and then I didn’t. But when I saw her, I was relieved that she was.

I sat down with her and asked her story. There was a food cart across the street so I asked her if she wanted a Coke and chips, to which her answer was “No, just a bottle of water and a sandwich is fine.” I ended up buying as much as possible and sat back on the ground with her for a few more minutes. As a Jesus follower I asked if I could pray with her, which she allowed. Then I told her I had to go and catch a ferry to Manly. I walked away hoping that I gave her hope.

The gist of it is that I gave her a chance to tell about herself and I just had to listen – that was all.

home3. Link up with people working on the ground

When you come to a place like Africa all you will see are the things that need fixing – the roads, the electricity, the living conditions, the poverty. Plenty of people have walked in with pockets full of cash and gone home penniless. They give out money here and there. People’s stories will pull on your heart strings and you couldn’t imagine YOUR children living in some of these conditions. You’ll be shocked and want to give, give, give.

Can I suggest something. Give to organisations (never individuals) who have a good track record and can prove where the money goes. There is no harm in asking for copies of the receipts. Accountability is a good thing.

This week we gave a person we trust a small amount of money for some clothes for a young man. Even then, I asked if they could take a photo on their phone and to send it to me. It’s not because we don’t trust them, it’s because I want to use it to raise more money for more kids. Because we knew each other, we’d built this relationship, it wasn’t offensive.

Remember – the proof of the pudding is in the eating.


4. Don’t make promises

When you see a great need it’s easy to get swept away in emotion, especially if there are young children involved. Too many people have come to Africa and said that when they return home they will do something to help. The truth is, when you get back home you hit the ground running and get caught up in every day life.

If you raise funds, that’s great. If you raise awareness that raises funds, even better.

poverty-in-africa5. Be rather than do

We tend to think that if we get in there and ‘fix it’ we’ve done our job. Sure, we can do it but what have we left the person with? Have we left them with a sense of value, belonging and that they are our equals? Or, do people just see dollar signs when they see us?

Play a game of soccer with the kids, have tea with the mamas, sit with people in their home, show them photos of your kids, be a friend.


We always welcome visitors with open arms, but please, come to learn, then you will get everything out of your trip that is available. If you come to do, do, do, you’ll end up judging, frustrated and wonder what difference you’ve made.

Leave your chequebook at home. Then when you get back, you can give to one project that really touched your heart. Crumbs given out here and there don’t really impact much, but a larger one off donation can be utilised really well.

Size doesn’t Matter

We seem to be caught up in a world of numbers (how big your church, outreach, youth group), money (how much you are on) strength (how many pushups you can do) and belongings (how many properties you own). Sometimes I get a bit over it. When did numbers and money become the ultimate goal of life?

Sure, I love having money to do the things we want to do, who doesn’t? I love travelling (been to 18 countries, and not just airports), I love speaking to the thousands and I love doing crazy things like white water rafting on The Nile.

my 2 loves

Bushwalking in Kenya

But one thing I’ve learned over the years is that there will always be someone smarter, richer, more fit and better at some things than myself – and that’s okay. I’ve completed an MBA but want to do another Masters Degree some time soon but does that make me more than someone who has just done their undergrad? Does it make me lesser of a person because I choose not to do a PhD?

I think it’s time we put quantity aside and look at quality of something.

We are on assignment in Kenya (that’s East Africa if you didn’t know) for who knows how long. There’s no shortage of NGO’s, community help groups, churches or ‘mega outreaches’. If you go into the slums you can see endless schools in tin shacks, lunchtime church meetings and welfare organisations operating. I dread to think how much aid and development money has gone into organisations and I ask myself ‘What impact is it making?’

Now while this might sound a tad negative, actually it’s a good thing. We constantly look at what we’re involved in and are more than happy to see lives changed forever.

liz sorting maize

Liz showing the trainees how to use the bean sorter

Kids are going to school where before they had no way in. Others are no longer living on the street and stealing, they are being educated and are now in jobs. Some who were sponsored are now volunteering, giving back to their community. We’re working with an organisation that doesn’t have the thousands on the books but their history is quite incredible – schools, sponsorship programs, agricultural training, leadership programs are just a bit of what they’ve done. That’s because they are into developing young people and not just giving a handout.

teacher 2

Teaching computers on a donated laptop

The key is not how many have come through the door of your work, but what lifetime change are you bringing?

For us personally, the person who gives us $5 a month to keep us here is as much as of a hero as someone who gives 10 times more. Every person who gives does so sacrificially. We have those in their seventies who give from their small pension. There are those who are students who have an after school job and give to us, while others give from their house rentals. It’s not about the amount but the impact it’s made.

Some generous person gave us $500 as a one off gift and from some of that we were able to give some teenage boys their first ever Christmas party. That meant small presents, a buffet lunch, party hats, streamers – the works. They got involved in making the meal and decorating the room and it was a special time for all of us – especially our family. Rather than being a day where we miss our youngest daughter (even more than normal), we were out with a bunch of kids who had no place to call home. But this was only possible because someone sacrificed A LOT.

present opening

Present opening

So please don’t look down on what you do or give – it does make a difference – if not to you to the person you are helping out.

It’s not the size it’s the heart motivation that the action is done in

Want to find out how you can help in our work – check it out HERE.

A Week With Terri

Terri (AKA Tee) is one of our many ‘extra’ kids we have in our family. We’ve known her since she was 4 years old, she is now 25. It was only a few weeks ago that she said she was coming here for 3 weeks, so we adjusted our calendar, planned some outings and finally got our guest room ready.

Looking out at Nairobi from the Convention Centre

Looking out at Nairobi from the Convention Centre

Until then the guest room was empty and we had always planned to furnish it, but didn’t have the funds for it. Just after we got the message that Tee was coming some New Zealand and Aussie friends gave us enough for a mattress and bed. When she arrived, another friend gave us the funds for some bedside tables. So now all we need is a BBQ, vacuum cleaner, solar backup and we are pretty much set up!

Visiting the KAG Primary School

Visiting the KAG Primary School

The great things about having visitors is that I get a chance to get out of the office. Not that I mind working with our team (they are the best) but endlessly looking at a computer screen gets just a bit much. So I’ve abandoned our team for the 3 weeks that Tee is here, keeping in touch online and going in only on Monday mornings. It means working at nights or sneaking in time like now when she is getting her hair braided – Kenyan style. We absolutely love having visitors and showing them that Africa is more than war, famine and poverty.

closeup kissy

This is how you kiss a giraffe

I always get amazed by what peoples reactions are to Kenya and everything it holds. Most are intrigued that we pretty much have all the modern amenities, that we drive in crazy traffic and don’t have a heart attack and how good the food is. I feel sorry for Tee because I told her that the weather had been cool, but by the time she got here it was quite warm. She came from 15 degrees in New Zealand to 25 – 27 degree heat. The other day I suggested we walk the 15 minutes to the mall – bad mistake. She has constantly reminded me and anyone we meet about how she nearly melted. Won’t be doing that one again.

Preschoolers in the Kitui District

Preschoolers in the Kitui District

The thing I love about Tee is her laugh it’s infectious. This is especially so when we’ve driven for hours and start quoting movies, Swahili practise and songs to suit the situation. That’s when we know we’re all tired and Tee’s laughs keep us going. She was only here for 2 days and we went to Kalambya in the Kitui District, around 3.5 hours from Nairobi. We left early in the morning and didn’t get back until after 9pm. It was to look at one of our new water projects but it was preceded by a 2 hour tour through a primary and secondary school. It was hot, dusty and I am sure we met everyone in the community. But, we had lots of fun along the way.

A day in the city in 26 degrees. I think they needed a coffee.

A day in the city in 26 degrees. I think they needed a coffee.

While we like to show people the touristy places we also like to show them another side of life in Kenya – where people live in poverty. We took Tee into the Kibera Slum where we were meant to take a food parcel to a needy family but their child ended up vomiting for hours and was rushed to hospital. Instead we visited some young men who are sponsored to attend school. Here we discovered that at one of their boarding schools they have to get up at 3.45am, every day! The boys were inquisitive about Tees tattoos, something happening more and more here. We also visited a school in Kibera where the little kids are so cute you want to take one home.

While you can go to some great places here, it is the people you meet who leave a lasting impression. There’s Mariam who gave us a Kenyan cooking lesson (Tee still doesn’t like ugali), Ayub and his family who came for dinner and Lucy who we took to dinner on our way back into Nairobi. Sure you can kiss a giraffe like Tee did (and who doesn’t!), feed a baby elephant or tour through a bead making factory. But it’s the incredible stories of joy and endurance that stay with you forever.

Tomorrow we take Tee to Nakuru with us to visit a school where we put down a deep bore well.  It’s only a few hours drive from here but we are staying overnight at someones house so the next day we get up at 6am to go to the national park. That afternoon we’re also out on a boat to see the animals from a water perspective.

Hair braiding takes hours.

Hair braiding takes hours.

Both Tee and Pete are big coffee drinkers. They are about half the price of what Tee would pay in New Zealand so she’s happy to stop several times at the local coffee shop. This morning I had to steer her away from Dormans, which she has come to know really well.

However, I may have to take her there later for her caffeine fix!





Life as a Teacher

I really enjoy teaching. Whether it’s one on one or in a classroom.

I actually wanted to become a teacher but became a youth worker instead. Where we lived the nearest university was at least an hour away. I was married and there was no way I was leaving my husband just to do what I wanted. Then the kids came along and it never happened.

I home schooled our girls and there were a few extra bodies along the way. Now looking back I would do things differently but at the time you do the best that you can. When we moved to Australia in 2002, I gave up the schooling and the youth work as we needed the money and Sydney was way more expensive than Christchurch to live in.

As I’m writing this I’m overseeing 15 students who have completed a 6 week business skills class that I’ve taught. These are young men who only a short while ago where living on the streets of Nairobi. They didn’t finish primary school, but they could be great businessmen if they believe in themselves.

It’s kind of weird how everything from the past 25 years happens just for that moment. I mean, we moved to Aussie, I ended up working in a high school and then went on to working for a university. I got my MBA (Masters of Business Administration) and we started our work in Africa. I’m tutoring kids here and teaching classes. In the next 5 years we’re looking at building a boarding school.


I didn’t even finish high school.

I dropped out at just before my final year. In those days you just walked into a job, not like now.

But I’ve also become the student again.

Each Monday I have Kiswahili lessons with Judy, she’s a whizz at languages, I’m not. I’ve taught English as a second language and decided I’d much rather be a teacher than a student. I’m envious of these Kenyan kids, they have to learn at least 2 languages throughout their school life.

I’m 44 and yet feel like a 4 year old trying to learn Kiswahili.

I’ve heard people say that you can never stop learning. Heck, move to a country like Kenya and then you have the right to say that. I was wanting to get my Masters in Development some time in the future, but every day here in Kenya is a classroom.

Society here is our teacher and she’s not always nice or patient.

Sometimes I don’t want to hear what she is saying and some times I just don’t care. Sometimes I just want to go to a movie and forget that I’m in Africa.

The fact is though that we are here and we do have to learn. As someone told us ‘Coming to Africa shows you what’s really inside of you, how big a capacity you have’. I thought I was a big person inside but discovered that I’m not. I’m too judgemental, opinionated, narrow-minded and set in my own ways – thank you very much!!

While life is a schoolroom, we have to be willing to learn.

I’m always telling my students that attitude determines altitude, now I have to take my own medicine. While the medicine might not taste great, it is good for us.