Breathe easy, we’re CPR certified!

Tabby and Phil practice during CPR re-certification

Practice, practice, practice

Teacher Robert


Class will be held outside today

Flying Kites teachers take class outside on a gorgeous, sunny day in the Aberdares

To Brian and Amy, with gratitude

Today,  Brian Jones passes the Country Director torch to Amy Travis, and we’d like to take a moment to celebrate and thank both of these individuals for their incredible dedication, passion, and relentless drive to fight for a brighter future for the children of Njabini, Kenya.

To the man who brought mighty, you bet, and boundless into our daily vocabulary, who established Gratitude as a staple of our nightly family meetings and infused our home with more light, laughter, and stability than we could ever put to words, THANK YOU, sir. You are a gift to this world!

And to Amy, who immediately jumped headlong into learning the complicated ropes of  an enormous job, and is already tackling an ever evolving mire of re-registrations, permits, school & staffing schedules, while still making time for bed time stories, we are deeply excited and grateful to have you aboard our team.

To our readers, we ask you to take a moment and express your gratitude to the the MIGHTY Brian and Amy, in the comments section of this post, for it is simply not possible to say “We appreciate you” too often.

A Reflection and a Thank You

by Phil Besse, Flying Kites Education Ambassador


I first came to the Flying Kites home on Halloween of 2011 and volunteered for six weeks.  Now, almost a year later and back at the home, I have the privilege of seeing how things have grown over the past 11 months.  Much is the same: the house is filled with incredible children, I wake up every morning to laughing kids, and the children have the support of dedicated volunteers and staff.  There have been a number of changes – most notably, the very structure of the volunteer system itself.

Last year, I was one of six volunteers.  We woke every morning and, after breakfast, walked to the school, where we tutored three children for an hour each, taught the Daily 5 – a reading and creative writing class – had lunch with the kids, and walked home.  The afternoons were ours to work on projects or use as free time.  This system worked, but wasn’t designed to realize the full potential impact of each volunteer.  Since last December, the volunteer system has been revamped for the better.

The Volunteer Program has been renamed the Ambassador Program.  Ambassador numbers are now capped at five and accepted in increments of three months, ensuring only dedicated people decide to come.  Each ambassador has a specific role: Education Ambassador and Health Ambassador are two examples.  Whereas when I first came to FK each volunteer had the same schedule and basically the same responsibilities, now each ambassador can structure his or her work week to meet the demands of his or her role.  This has the benefit of allowing each Ambassador to design, with the help of the FK staff, his or her stay to have the maximum impact for the benefit of the children and the organization.

Each ambassador role brings with it particular responsibilities.  The Ambassador Program allows for each ambassador to focus on specific areas of critical importance to the raising of children.  My role while here for the next nine months is that of Education Ambassador.  The role is largely being defined as I learn the ropes, but so far I will be responsible for making sure the integration of ambassadors at the school is at the best level possible, aiding the teachers in their daily responsibilities, designing evening tutoring to be best for the children, and developing the school as a tool for community development and growth.

It has been a great experience to return to Njabini after a year and see how things are different and how they are the same.  The biggest change has been the structure of the volunteer program – it has become a program that allows each Ambassador to use his or her skills to focus on specific areas to grow the children and Flying Kites itself.


The Flying Kites team would like to take this time to acknowledge our deep and heartfelt gratitude to the Ambassador Program’s first year of ambassadors. In the program’s inaugural year, our ambassadors have increased the level of attention and individualized care that our full time staff is able give to the Flying Kites children and they have deepened our impact and reach in the community of Njabini. We will continue to relay stories and examples of this growth through our blog. But that’s not all…

In just nine months,  14 ambassadors have raised $76,473 for Flying Kites, and they show no signs of letting up. 

Let’s all take this moment to recognize these extraordinary individuals and let their commitment and compassion drive our own to new heights.

To our ambassadors, you inspire us, you drive us, and we would not be where we are without you. Asante sana.

Partnership, Humility, Action: Forging change

Mark Arnoldy of Nyaya Health and Paul Farmer of Partners in Health on stage at MCC 2012

This past weekend, we had the great pleasure of attending the 2012 Millennium Campus Conference at Northeastern University, where we joined 1,200 other attendees including student leaders, development professionals, innovative social benefit organizations, and some of the world’s leading economists, to discuss progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, and how to more efficiently work towards their achievement.

With a superstar line up of keynote speakers including Dr Paul Farmer, founder of Partners in Health, Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute, Leymah Gbowee, 2011 Peace Prize Winner, Emilia Pires, Minister of Finance of Timor-Leste, and Steve Radelet, Chief Economist at USAID, there was no shortage of powerful minds and voices, urging the audience to listen closely to the populations they wish to serve, to act boldly, and act in concert with one another.

Over the course of the two day conference, more powerful speeches were given and discussions had then we could ever hope to summarize, but we would like to share a few pivotal moments with you:

  •  Akhtar Bradesh, Senior Director of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Microsoft urged the students and young leaders in attendance to:


2.)BE A LEARNER- “Listen when people say you don’t know anything.”

3.) FAIL – “You will fail- it is the only way to know success.”

4.)BE COMPASSIONATE, not just passionate.

“Compassion takes your personal work, drive, motivation and turns it into societal benefits.”

  • Dr. Paul Farmer insisted that you cannot plan ahead for every set back or defeat. He identified perseverance, humility and partnership as the key ingredients that will carry you through even the worst of disasters.
  • Steve Radelet of USAID stood in front of the packed auditorium, and boomed out, “Some people say development is failing. I am here to say they are wrong. Never before has there been so much progress… Fighting poverty is happening.”

We walked away from the 2012 MCC fired up  and excited to forge further partnerships as we strive towards better care, better education, and more widely accessible opportunity at the Flying Kites home, school, and surrounding community.

-Julianna Morrall Director, Ambassador Program

Career shadowing at Kijabe Hospital


by Tricia Piorkowski*

As the children at Flying Kites get older, many are beginning to realize their dreams of what they want to be when they grow up. Francis has openly shared his desire to be a neurosurgeon, while Monicah, Martha, & Virginia all express interest in becoming nurses. Having just graduated from nursing school, I understand the importance of getting hands on experience when working in the medical field.

Last week, I was able to accompany these four kids to the nearby Kijabe Hospital and set them up with the opportunities to shadow nurses. Monicah, Virginia, & Martha were placed with nursing students working in the pediatric wing, and were taught what it means to be a nurse, learning a few basic skills such as the taking of vital signs.

Having expressed deep and sustained interest in neurosurgery, Francis was placed in the neuroscience unit of the pediatric ward. There he met with nurses who cared for post-operative patients recovering from surgeries to correct spina bifida and hydrocephalus (surgeries he could very well be doing someday). We had the opportunity to walk around the ward, meeting families and children, and learning what their experiences have been like over the past few years of countless hospital visits and surgeries. While it is not the exact area Francis plans to work in, he knew it was important that to see what it’s like for the patients’ families, and to witness firsthand how good quality medical care vastly improved or saved these children’s lives.

The kids were given a tour of the hospital and got to see the maternity ward filled with mothers having just given birth and newborn babies. One of the nurses even tried to bring Francis to observe the Operating Room; and while they wouldn’t let visitors in for infection control reasons, he was able to sneak a peak of what the environment looked like. Each of the kids got to see an intravenous line inserted into a baby, which is something that most people don’t get to see until they are well into nursing/medical school.

After the long and fulfilling day, the kids were so excited and expressed endless amounts of gratitude for being given the opportunity to see what it’s like to work in a hospital setting. And while they expressed how challenging it was, it seems to have only fueled their desires to pursue a career in the medical field.


*Tricia Piorkowski, a recent graduate of Salve Regina, is currently the Health Ambassador at Flying Kites. Tricia, a supremely dedicated and loving ‘auntie’, volunteered at Flying Kites in the summer of 2010 and 2011 before returning this summer for a longer stay. Follow her personal blog here:

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The Golden Rules

“Work Hard. Stick together. Dream big dreams.”


Words to live by at the Flying Kites Leadership Academy.

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