Thursday, March 25, 2010

GenerAction Week!

The inaugural GenerAction service week will be held April 6-10 on UNC's campus. GenerAction is an initiative seeking new and creative ways to engage university students in acts of service and volunteering. More than 27 student organizations are involved in GenerAction week, including Carolina for Amani!

All acts of service and volunteerism throughout GenerAction week will culminate into an afternoon concert by Sean Kingston on Sunday, April 11 on UNC's campus! Tickets are available for 20 dollars to the public, but students who participate in GenerAction week can receive their ticket for $10!

One of the ways you can participate in GenerAction week to get a discount on your ticket is by attending the Carolina for Amani GenerAction week bead show! On Thursday, April 8, Carolina for Amani is hosting a bead party from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on UNC's campus in Dey Hall Rm. 201. Come make beautiful jewelry from hand-painted Kenyan beads, or purchase graduation presents, birthday presents, or presents for no good reason at all! All proceeds will benefit the New Life Home Orphanages in Kenya.

Email with any questions! If you can't make the bead show, come out to our regular Monday night beading at 9 p.m. in the Campus Y Room 207!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

News from Kenya!

Jane Stephens, the founder and director of The Amani Children's Foundation, recently returned from a trip to Kenya! Below is her update, with news from Open Day, a celebration of the children of the New Life Homes and the families created through the New Life Homes! Be sure to check out the Picasa album of pictures!

Dear All,

I’m just back from 10 days in Kenya. The highlight of our week was Open Day, an annual picnic at the Nairobi home for parents and their NLH kids to come back and celebrate. It was fun to see so many faces of children we’ve known as babies in the various home, but, even more, it was overwhelmingly moving see the collective “face” of New Life Home’s impact on so many families. Here’s a link from the day.

I've included shots of the entertainment in (from the NLH toddlers, to gospel singers to acrobats), because my kids loved seeing them, and I thought yours might as well. 500 people were there—mostly Kenyan families, but also a few Americans and a host of new Dutch families. Over the last few years, 80 % of the NLH adoptions have been by Kenyans.

One of the most remarkable things about the day was seeing Kenyan dads throwing themselves into the excitement of it all. Many of them arrived with the same “this was her idea” look on their faces I’ve often seen on the shy couples who come to NLH to talk about adoption, but as the day went on, they stepped into the spirit of it--posing for pictures, carrying their new children in the races, and chatting away about the details of their children’s teeth, diapers and habits with the same pride of any T-ball dad in the US!

The number of adoptions from New Life Homes during the last few months has been astonishing--100 overall in 2009 and 20 already in 2010. In a time when so much of our world (both in developed and in developing nations) has failed to take the importance of children’s rights and documentation seriously, these Kenyan families have taken complex and expensive measures to adopt their children in the high courts of Kenya. This is a radical phenomenon. No other African country has Kenya’s record for legal adoptions by nationals, and nothing insures security, status, and legacy for a child like a forever family with permanent legal status, inheritance, and family legacy. Open Day was more than an hilarious picnic, it was the collective “Whew!” of a group of people who have done well by and for their children against all odds.

After Open Day, we travelled to other New Life Homes at Kisumu, Nakuru, and Nyeri. The Mombasa home had to be closed for lack of funding, but the total number of children cared for by the homes is higher than ever, so every home is more than full. And with so many adoptions, there has been room for lots of new babies. I’m attaching pictures of twin boys, Thomas and Titus, who were found on a church pew wrapped together in a single blanket and brought to the Kisumu home last month--together they weighed less than 8 pounds. And of a little girl who arrived at the Nyeri home in horrifying condition. As you can see, they’re thriving. They've found everything a baby needs at their new homes—except parents. And, if the adoptions continue as they have for the last months, they’ll find them soon.

Of course, there are a number of older New Life Home kids who haven’t been adopted (25 HIV kids, 12 special needs kids, and a few others who simply were the wrong age or gender when visitors arrived). Those children have become a part of New Life Home’s family homes. And all of us who visit them find them to be as happy a family as any of us can imagine. They will be cared for by New Life Home and Amani until they are adults—and what great adults they promise to be. I’m attaching a picture of Bethel home in Nakuru as well. Our hope is to build a permanent home for them on the grounds of the Nakuru NLH, as they are currently in a rental house nearby.

2009 was such a challenging year for everyone, and New Life Home was hit by every aspect of the financial tsunami with many of their resources from churches and businesses falling through. The resourcefulness with which they've addressed their growing needs and the leadership that they've developed in these challenging times is inspiring. The lessons we brought home from last week were, of course, lessons of faithfulness, compassion, and love, but they were also lessons about hope and resourcefulness and high expectations. We came home stretched and inspired by having spent time with a real family. A great family in which the grown-ups seem truly wise and the children are truly loved. It was as good as it gets.

Thank you for your part in helping this family to thrive!

Yours for the Amani Board and the New Life Home Staff,

Jane Stephens

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Internship Program

This summer, nine students from UNC-Chapel Hill, Emory University, North Carolina State University, and Messiah University will travel to the New Life Homes in Kenya for two months to assist in completing updated adoption files and archives in an electronic format for each of the children in the New Life Homes in Nairobi, Nakuru, Kisumu, and Nyeri. The interns will be in Kenya from mid-June until mid-August. The interns will be tasked with completing updated archives for each of the children, thus rendering each child eligible for adoption and also allowing potential adoptive parents to have increased information and photographs for the children! We are so excited about this opportunity and the interns involvement in the New Life Homes! Stay tuned for more details and information to track the progress of the interns!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A little more about the jewelry...

The Amani Children's Foundation partners with Kazuri Beads. Kazuri means "small and beautiful" in Swahili. Kazuri is located in the Karen district of Nairobi, and employs women, most of whom are single mothers, to make beautiful, hand painted beads from the clay of Mt. Kenya. Kazuri produces more than 5 million beads per year, and employs more than 400 women in a positive working environment. At the end of every season, Kazuri donates any unused or imperfect beads to the Amani Children's Foundation! We then take the beads, and a group of girls and guys gets together on Monday nights on UNC's campus, and we use the beads to make beautiful jewelry! We then sell the jewelry, and 100% of the proceeds go to sponsor the New Life Home Orphanages in Kenya!

In addition to our Monday night bead gatherings, we can bring our beads to you! If you are interested in hosting a jewelry part for your dorm, sorority/fraternity, bible study, community, student organization, or group of friends, email and we would love to set one up!

We frequently host bead shows across campus where we sell all of the beautiful jewelry we have made! If you don't want to wait for a show to buy jewelry, let us know and we can arrange a time for you to shop!

To see pictures of the jewelry and beads... check out and

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Why the New Life Home Orphanages in Kenya?

You may ask... why raise money and support for the New Life Homes in Kenya? What is so different about the New Life Homes than any other orphanage?

The New Life Homes are not typical African orphanages. Spread across Kenya in six different homes, the babies and children in the homes are treated like family, given professional medical treatment, and taught to become positive, contributing members of society. Contagious hope overflows from the homes, shining a light in the often bleak outlook for over 2.2 million orphans in Kenya.

While volunteering in the New Life Homes in the summer of 2009, I had the opportunity to work in the legal and social work department of the New Life Homes. One of the roles of the social worker is to rescue abandoned children and bring them to the New Life Homes. One afternoon, Sylvia, the social worker in the Kisumu orphanage, was asked to come to the District Children’s Office to collect a small girl found abandoned in a bush in a village outside of Kisumu. I traveled with Sylvia to rescue the baby, to hold and feed her while Sylvia navigated the bumpy Kenyan roads. The baby was broken and hungry after suffering neglect and abuse from her mother, who was most likely a single girl afraid of the social, political, and economic consequences due to the strong cultural stigmas associated with having a child out of wedlock. After four hours of holding the child while visiting police stations, hospitals, and the district children’s office to collect her necessary paperwork and medical records, we returned to the New Life Homes exhausted as the sun set. The child was in need of immediate medical condition, so we rushed her upstairs to Prisca, a registered Kenyan nurse and the director of the New Life Home Kisumu. Immediately, Prisca took the child into her arms and whispered to her softly, “Beautiful girl, you are home now. This is your home, and we are your family, where you are loved. We will call you Betsy, meaning ‘my God is a vow,’ for we vow to love you and care for you always, forever here or in a new home. Betsy, welcome home, you are loved.”

Betsy is just one example of how the New Life Homes are a unique and miraculous place. Not only do the Homes treat the children like family, but the Orphanages are setting precedents for the care and treatment of orphaned children across East Africa. For example, the New Life Homes prioritize the rescue of HIV-positive babies, for the Homes have the medical capacity to treat HIV-positive children so that 75-90% become HIV-negative within a few months of arriving at the Homes.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Welcome to Carolina for Amani!

Hello Everyone!

Welcome to the new site for Carolina for Amani, a student organization on UNC-Chapel Hill's campus that raises funds and support for the New Life Home Orphanages in Kenya! We are so excited about raising awareness for the New Life Homes, the HIV/AIDS orphan crisis, and adoption in Kenya!

Our parent organization is the Amani Children's Foundation, a non-profit based in Winston Salem, North Carolina! Check it out at

We meet Monday nights at 9 p.m. in Room 207 of the Campus Y if you want to get involved on UNC's campus.

Our mission:
1. Raising money for the New Life Home Orphanages through the sale of beautiful, hand-painted Kenyan jewelry.
2. Utilizing university interns to make the adoption process more efficient, accessible, and safe in Kenya.
3. Making the UNC-Chapel Hill community excited about the precedents the New Life Home Orphanages is setting for the treatment of orphans!

We would love for you to get involved, so contact us if you want more information! We will keep you updated as progress is made on the 2010 summer internship program to Kenya and will post upcoming events and updates!