thumbnail of Mystery Guest March 10, 2020

Mystery Guest

thumbnail of Mystery Guest March 10, 2020

Protected: HEART Gala ‘Under the Stars’

There is no excerpt because this is a protected post.

Rotary Club of Gigiri donates Ksh. 450,000 to keep 1,000 girls in school!

Studies indicate that sexual maturation upsets the balance of both girls and boys and, consequently, impacts their education.  However, menstruation further complicates the girl child’s challenges.

Sanitary wear is beyond the reach of many girls in Kenya because they are too expensive for either them or their guardians to afford. UNESCO estimates 1 in 10 African adolescent girls miss school during menses and eventually drop out.

The Rotary Club of Nairobi Gigiri teaming up with Flamingo Horticulture embarked on an ingenious idea of selling fresh roses and lilies weekly at the US Embassy, Kabete Kindergarten and Peponi School to raise funds to keep girls in school. In a colorful event at The Tribe Hotel, Nairobi, on 17 June 2016, President Tatiana Romero whose passion for the girl child drove her to initiate a fundraiser thorough a weekly flower sale at the US Embassy, Peponi School and Kabete Kindergarten, spoke of how heartbreaking it was for her when she first heard that girls in Kenya miss upto 5 days of school per month for lack of sanitary towels. She said further that the thought of girls sitting on soil and some using old rags to take care of their monthly period was the reason was she will continue the fundraiser to ensure that more and more girls are no longer missing school but are empowered because they are the future.

The Rotary Club of Nairobi Gigiri presented to Freedom for Girls (a sanitary towel project that was initiated and formed in the year 2006 by Rotary District 9212and Lions Multiple District 411A) Ksh. 450,000 ($4,500) to that will help keep 1,000 girls in school for yet another year and through the club President’s personal networks, 3 other possible partnerships raised an additional Ksh. 315,000 an equivalent of 700 girls! Mr. Thomas Frankum, on behalf of Flamingo Horticulture, the company that donates fresh lilies and roses every week said that his company believes that the girl child should be empowered to take up leadership roles and education will be the key to that empowerment. To receive the donation on behalf of HEART was Nicholas Kamatu, the Kenya Director of Operations, Isaac Mzee, Program Coordinator, Lydiah Njoroge, Freedom for Girls Program Manager who gave an overview of what Freedom for Girls is doing for the girls of Kenya and Mary Mwaura, the OVC Program Manager.

The Board of Trustees was represented by Pastor Elijah Wanje who thanked the Rotary Club of Nairobi Gigiri for bearing the burden of the Kenyan Girl Child. HEART will continue giving oversight to the weekly flower sale at the US Embassy to ensure that the fundraiser continues and that more girls are kept in school.

Flicker of Hope


“Flicker of Hope: Empowered HIV+ Women of Kenya” is an uplifting short documentary about women who were saved from death by the USA and Kenyan-based humanitarian organization Health Education Africa Resource Team (HEART). The women are guided on a path to realize their own potential, become self-sufficient, and support their children. Empowered with a sense of purpose, they take control of their lives to make a generational impact on their families and communities.

Following each screening, there will be a Q&A with Filmmaker Hermon Farahi and Producer Matthew J. Van Sistine and handmade African items will be for sale in Henderson’s Lounge.

Tickets are $10 or $8 for DFS members. A drink ticket is included with each full priced ticket. Use the promo code STUDENT for a $5 discount for children and students. All ages are welcome. Film showings at 4:30 and 5:45. Tickets may be purchased at

All proceeds from the event will benefit HEART.



The Kenya Chronicles by Chris Wilcox

The Kenya Chronicles 2012

Dear Friends and Family,

First and foremost, thank you for all your prayers and financial commitment in support of my recent mission trip to Kenya. It was quite an experience. Long distance airplane travel isn’t all it is cracked up to be. I am glad I didn’t have to take a China Clipper. I have a whole new appreciation for those who crossed the big water in slower airplanes.

Dateline-Nairobi, We arrived in Nairobi at about 1:30 am on November 2nd. After a short nights sleep we were busy making plans for all the upcoming work for the next month there in Nairobi and in Kisii ( about a six hour drive west of Nairobi).

The first Sunday we visited Dandora where Bayside has been doing great things for the Dandora Baptist Church and local education and medical clinic. We attended services, handed out goodies for all the kids and had lunch with the pastor and church elders. It was good to see all that Bayside has done and still realize it is only a small dent in what can be done. A couple of years ago the church was just a shell with a dirt floor that they had been working on for about fifteen years. Now it is nearly complete with a nice new terrazzo floor, stained glass windows, and plastered walls. Quite an upgrade from the tin building they had been meeting in just across the courtyard for years. What an accomplishment.

With the exception of a couple of trips to town, to see a kitchen project the contractor had just finished, and shopping for commercial kitchen equipment, the first week was a lot of demolition work on the existing building and preparing for all the new utilities, doors, windows, and counters. The building was made of solid quarry stone and concrete. So, everything in the way of utility access had to be chiseled, drilled, and hammered out of stone and concrete. That is just how it is done in Kenya. Even in downtown Nairobi on multi-story buildings, people were chiseling rock. The team finally broke down and bought a hammer drill on about the third day. We left it in Kenya in well used condition.

carProbably my favorite trip out of town was our first. After a week of work on the kitchen we reached a point, where we were waiting on other people to finish their work. We visited the school at Oldonyonyokie, about three hours south. Amazing how 430 kids showed up each day out of the middle of nowhere. If you looked all around the school all you saw was Kenyan bush. We taught the boys how to paint Not all the paint made it on the walls. Some on the floors, some on the kids, and some on us. But they had apparently never painted before. Some of the kids had probably never seen a white person before as we were quite the attraction. When we were done, they served us a traditional Kenyan lunch of goat stew over rice with cooked cabbage and chapatti (a Kenyan tortilla). After lunch we toured the school and were surprised to see they had a solar powered computer lab.

We were at least ten miles from the nearest electrical service but they were set up with technology (Dell Computers). Just before we left, the dance troop did a traditional Maasai folk dance for us. They won first place in provincial competition this year. They just need matching costumes to compete at the national level.


Screen Shot 2013-03-29 at 12.38.07 PMSo we made plans to head to Kisii and work on a house that HEART had recently rented for a regional office and build a house for a lady that had recently lost hers to a fire. We arrived in Kisii to thunder storms and to find that electrical power is not all that reliable in that part of Kenya. Vickie Winkler, Bob Henderson and I set to work making dinner, (“American Hamburgers”) and just finished cooking the patties on the stove when the power went out. The stove is gas, the oven is electric. No problem. The potatoes got moved to the stove top and finished baking under aluminum foil. They have a saying there, TIA, (This is Africa). The African version of Hang Loose. So, twelve of us all enjoyed dinner by candle light. There was no hot running water so we washed dishes Kenyan style by boiling the water, using lots of soap, Clorox, and lots of rinsing. It all worked out. We worked on the house for three days installing new wiring, and washing machine, new plumbing on all the sinks, a new rock retaining wall in the back yard, new tile in the kitchen, and several other small projects.

Screen Shot 2013-03-29 at 12.38.40 PMAfter the work on the Kisii house, we went to Kimera for a day to build a traditional mud house for a lady and her three daughters. They had recently lost their house in a fire. It was fun to see it all come together. With that it was time for a small break. We headed to the Maasai Mara National Park for safari for a couple of days.

Screen Shot 2013-03-29 at 12.49.20 PMWe Met Bill Languemi in Narok, he had just arrived to join us for the last two weeks of November. From there we traveled to the mara. On the way we had the opportunity to experience a Kenyan Massage, (a very bad washboard road at high speed for about 40 miles) and some African Dance ( a true 4×4 road safari style at a little slower speed). Really, our driver Martin was outstanding and really knows how to handle a safari Land Cruiser.

Screen Shot 2013-03-29 at 12.38.58 PMHe is an experienced guide and was able to put us up close and personal to the Big 5 (elephant, rhino, lion, cheetah, and cape buffalo), and much more. Vickie Winkler had made arrangements for us to stay at the Fig Tree Camp which was one of the first safari camps established in the mara. We were given the royal treatment with deluxe tents right on the river with, hippos, crocodiles, and real Maasai warriors right out the front door. We had a grand time. But, we had places to be and things to do so after a day and a half we were off to Nairobi where four of our team boarded a plane to head back home and three of us remained for the rest of the month. But before the team said goodbyes we all went to dinner at the Carnivore. Vickie and Martin joined us for a great feast. The Carnivore is on the top ten list of best restaurants in the world. What an experience. Mikuni’s is better in my opinion.

The next day it was back to work on the new kitchen. I took a day and went with Alice Litton, from Grass Valley, to visit Ngong and help out at the Screen Shot 2013-03-29 at 12.39.06 PM
WEEP (Women’s Equality Empowerment Project) center there. It was neat to see the ladies sewing on treadle Singer sewing machines. They also made candles and cards and we had the privilege of sitting in on the Micro Finance members meeting. Two years ago these ladies had nothing and now with the right training they are on the verge of starting their own bank in Ngong. Back at the kitchen we did all we could do and then it was off to Kisii again for several more days work on the house that is the new regional office. We had to get it prepared for a grand opening on December 11th. There were going to be dignitaries from Israel at the grand opening including the Israeli Ambassador to Kenya. So things needed to work properly and look great too. We repainted most of the kitchen, did more electrical, put up shower curtains, with the help of the fundi we did more on the rock wall around the back of the house, and many small projects. The house has a new greenhouse in the back yard which is made in Israel and the company who makes it has worked closely with HEART on a ministry to get greenhouses placed in the villages to help start sustainability and small businesses, raising and selling produce grown in the greenhouses. It has been quite a project and very successful.

Screen Shot 2013-03-29 at 12.51.15 PM

Once we finished up with the house it was back to Nairobi for our last couple of days of work. We finished up some last minute gift shopping. Bill and Stefan worked with David, Steven, and Munyoki, on the kitchen while I went back to Kibera to finish glassing a window and do some painting. Alice Screen Shot 2013-03-29 at 12.39.21 PMwent along to visit a local clinic along with Judy Gretian, the wife of the just retired U.S. Ambassador to Kenya. They Screen Shot 2013-03-29 at 12.39.26 PMarrived back at the WEEP center just before I was finished. Martin found me and said “we have to leave NOW, its going to rain”. He was right. We no sooner packed things up and hopped in the truck and it rained. It rained bucket loads. The streets were like rivers in some places on the way back to the lodge. The windshield wipers could not keep up. This was our last day in Kenya. So Bill and I packed up in the afternoon. We left Nairobi at about 1:00 am that night and about 32 hours later arrived in Sacramento.

What a trip.


Some additional Pictures:

Screen Shot 2013-03-29 at 12.39.33 PM Screen Shot 2013-03-29 at 12.39.40 PM Screen Shot 2013-03-29 at 12.39.45 PM Screen Shot 2013-03-29 at 12.40.15 PM Screen Shot 2013-03-29 at 12.40.07 PM Screen Shot 2013-03-29 at 12.40.55 PM Screen Shot 2013-03-29 at 12.40.43 PM





Thank you for your help to experience a wonderful opportunity to help others and experience Kenya.                Sincerely, Chris Wilcox

HEART on Safari Dinner 2013

HEART on Safari Dinner 2013

This year’s event was more than amazing! The Highlight of the evening was the “Experience Africa” walk through display – a replica of the “Unity WEEP” center in the Kibera slums, the greenhouse, and the soccer field….among many other authentic exhibitions. People kept making such remarks as “this is like being in Kenya… how did you do this”!

They also had live animals provided by “Wild Things” of Weimar, CA sponsored by Criterion Systems.  People were greeted at the front door by a small boy in a uniform made by our WEEP Ladies holding onto goat with a rope.  He looked like he had just stepped out of Kenya. Among other animals, people could pet an alligator or a python!

The silent auction was again displayed in splendor and exotic tones of wonder. The “ART of HEART” exhibit donated by various local artists gave an exquisite touch to the evening.

The appetizers and evening dinner was exceptional! The evening program began with prayer of blessing by Pastor Stan Koon, HEART Board of Director Member. Mitch Hanna was the MC and charmed the gathering as he moved the line up from one segment to another.   The HEART Interns shared with Kyndal Riley, Intern from Kentucky, spoke on behalf of the Interns as to what it meant to here to be an Intern for HEART for two summers.

bethThe most talked about highlight of the program was a short, powerful speech by Beth Blaisdell, US Bank Executive, that spoke on behalf of “Women Leaders in Action” (visit ““) that are supporting  HEART projects, donating $5,000 to this event to bring the $95,000  donated by WLA in the past two years to a total of $100,000 for the HEART projects they support!

Vickie Winkler was the key note speaker and ended her stories of the past year’s accomplishments with plans for the new addition of 7 rooms at the HEART Lodge that will bring even greater income to HEART as part of their sustainability plan.  She showed a slide show of the HEART Kenyan staff and told the gathering of the need of HEART to raise $110,000 for the lodge.

You felt the drum roll excitement as the ticket was drawn for the winner for this year’s  trip to Kenya “Safari for Two” was won by Judy Hernandez! Judy was part of the John Johnson, Bayside HEART team last year and was already signed up to come again in June 2013!

So was the dinner a success? YES! A huge success! Raising $57,910! These funds will be used for the expenses of HEART that are often not covered in the grants.

Not only did over 300 Auburnites and the surrounding communities come and buy artifacts, purchase raffle tickets and enjoy a great evening they also shared from their hearts to help with the needs in Kenya. We also had guests from many different states:

Larry Donahoo from Nairobi, Kenya with Lift Up Africa flew in from Arizona

David and Ellen Bowman from Cincinnati, Ohio

Beth Blaisdell from Atlanta Georgia with Women Leaders in Action

Marty Lou Naylor from Phoenix, Arizona

Pastor Brian and Mercy Alarid from Albuquerque, New Mexico

Lisa Van Sistine from Green Bay, Wisconsin

Emily Vaughn from Green Bay, Wisconsin 

Kyndal Riley from Lexington, Kentucky

Matt Van Sistine from Denver, CO

If you missed this year’s HEART on Safari event, you really missed a wonderful evening! Laura Van Auker and Stephanie Gunton lead a group of volunteers that work for months to host this gala! Their husbands John Van Auker and John Gunton also should receive a resounding applause!

Plan ahead for next year and mark your calendars for February 22, 2014 and come and join us!

23 March 2013/VW