Monday, December 20, 2010

Merry Christmas to the Nest!

Christmas is the time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, God with us! The Nest strives to make it a special time of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ for the children.
Keep in mind that most children at the Nest are separated from their mothers due to imprisonment. Daily, but especially at Christmas, the Nest must soothe little hearts that are missing mama and longing for home.
Many "Friends of the Nest" work hard to bring good cheer to the children and staff each Christmas, in the forms of friendship, feasting, worship, songs and gifts. It's always a time of surprises and wonder!

Visitors are a wonderful blessing at Christmas-time becasue there are extra laps and hands for snuggling and holding!

and strong backs for climbing onto!

It's always a good time to dance and sing at the Nest, especially at Christmas!

The gifts bring delight!

and sometimes envy!

and more delight!

and a chance to nurture!

sometimes the gifts are mysterious...

and take a long time to assemble...

but the whole community gets to share the joy!

(after hearing all the rules)

Feasting together is fun, and the food is often something different than daily bread!

The celebrations and visitors means lots of coordination for the staff, and answering of questions and giving tours. We pray that God will bring his grace to the staff and visitors of the Nest this Christmas, as they strive to embrace the children in celebration of the birth of Jesus.

Please hold each staff member in prayer, as they each have a family of their own, with whom they desire to celebrate.

Please pray for the imprisoned moms, who are longing for their children, longing for release. Pray that by his spirit, God would be working in the hearts of each mom, bringing them to repentance and healing from the sin that brought them to prison in the first place.

Each one of us in entangled by the destructive forces of sin. Each one of us needs the repentance and healing that is only possible through Jesus Christ.

As an adult, Jesus spoke of himself, echoing the prophecy of Isaiah:
The Spirit of the Lord and king is on me.

The Lord has anointed me to tell the good news to the poor people.

He has sent me to comfort those whose hearts have been broken.

He has sent me to announce freedom for those who have been captured.

He wants me to set the prisoners free from their dark prisons.

He has sent me to announce the year when he will set his people free.

He wants me to announce the day when he will pay his enemies back.
Our God has sent me to comfort all those who are sad.
He wants me to help those in Zion who are filled with sorrow.

I will put beautiful crowns on their heads in place of ashes.

I will anoint them with oil to give them gladness instead of sorrow.

I will give them a spirit of praise in place of a spirit of sadness.

They will be like oak trees that are strong and straight.

The Lord himself will plant them in the land.

That will show how glorious he is!

Isaiah 61:1-3

Merry Christmas!

posted by Cathy Woller for Saba, International

Monday, November 8, 2010

Firm Foundation

It's time for another graduation at New Dawn School. On November 26, New Dawn will present 39 young people with diplomas. Saba, International commends them for their determination, endurance and hard work! We also commend the staff and leadership who have labored and prayed faithfully for five years to bring this day to pass. Pictured above are some of the students at last years graduation ceremony (dreaming of their own futures, perhaps?!)
Graduation is a good time to reflect back on the past, and forward to the future...
Nearly five years ago, New Dawn began operating its school in the borrowed space of this church.

Four years ago, New Dawn purchased this building in the village, and refitted it with a classroom and a library/computer lab. Three years ago they purchased another small building to house another classroom. As the school's student population grew, so did the need for space.

Two years ago, New Dawn was granted the right from a neighboring "old people's home" to build a proper school building, so that they could move toward the goal of operating on one campus. Because the village is "informal", New Dawn is not allowed to build permanent structures, and so they designed and built a school out of shipping containers! It's a remarkable feat of engineering, and truly came as a vision from God. The school now offers sufficient classroom space for its 160 students, but lacks a proper resource center, auditorium and science laboratories.

Over the past year, a vision for a second such structure has been put to paper, and the school has been working hard to acquire the additional shipping containers that it needs to build a three-story structure on the same campus.

The cost of this project is 9 million Kenyan Shillings, or about $120,000 USD. This cost is comprehensive, including the following and much more:
  • fabrication work: roofing, ceiling, delivery of the containers to the site, concrete work, installation, anti-theft doors, paint, etc.
  • auditorium: seating, flat-screen TV, P.A. system.
  • staff work room: desks, filing cabinets and a small kitchen
  • library: shelving, a circulation desk, and couches.
  • science laboratories: proper fittings for chemistry/physics lab and biology lab

Recently a donor came forward with $60,000, and New Dawn is looking for $60,000 in matching funds. The school would like to build in December with the hope it being completed when the new school year starts in January 2011.

$60,000 is a lot of money! This impossibly large amount of money can be raised up by a God who promises us his faithful presence, and has proved his mighty able-ness to New Dawn again and again. Saba, International longs to be a part of this project, and we are seeking partners to help us fund this work and pray it through to completion. Would you prayerfully consider how you can be a part of this tremendous building project....and let the word of the Lord instruct our hearts:
Command those who are rich to put their hope in God. He richly provides us with everything to enjoy. Command the rich to do what is good. Tell them to be rich in doing good things. They must give freely. They must be willing to share. In that way, they will put riches away for themselves. It will provide a firm basis for the next life. Then they will take hold of the life that really is life!--1 Timothy 6:17-19

checks can be written to : Saba, International

and mailed to: Saba, International, c/o Helen Kahl

10560 Blue Rock Road,

Mount Horeb, WI 53572

include in the memo line: New Dawn building project

If you prefer to use Pay Pal, please visit our website:

and follow the "donate today" link
Thank you for your partnership with New Dawn through Saba, International!
posted by Cathy Woller

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Teacher Nurture

In our partnership with New Dawn secondary school, Saba, International has come to recognize that the success of the school and its students depends largely on the teachers. Saba, International has implemented a program that we refer to as teacher nurture. The goal of this program is to support the teaching staff in a variety of ways, to nurture and encourage them as they daily commit to the hard work of teaching. So far, we have been able to help one teacher with the cost of his Bachelor's Degree, and have boosted teacher salaries with a "13th month" salary (which is like a Christmas Bonus). We would like to do more!

Shown above are four teachers which have been with New Dawn since 2006, its opening year. Thank you for your many years of dedicated, excellent service and leadership!

Meet Margaret Chao Kubo. She joined the New Dawn staff in 2006, shortly after the school opened. She has taught all four classes of students in the subjects of Kiswahili, history and religion. Currently she also functions as a student counselor and school secretary. In the picture above, Madame Chao was helping prepare the feast which followed last year's graduation.
In September, Ms. Kubo reported to me the blessing of having received a small stipend through teacher nurture. She wrote, "I want to thank Saba, International for their initiative of coming up with "teacher nurture". It has made a great impact in my life, especially during the August holidays when both my daughter and I were at home, meaning food consumption is high. The amount of money I usually allocate for my shopping from my salary is usually not enough to sustain us for the whole month. From the gift of "teacher nurture" this month's shopping has sustained us comfortably."

Ms. Kubo is an excellent example of on-going learning for the students. In 1998 she completed her O-level training, and in 2001 she took coursework for computer proficiency. She laments that she does not have more training to support her teaching, but recently, to the Praise of God's glorious grace, she has been able to return to school to achieve a diploma in Library and Information Science. She does the coursework during her three month-long term breaks, and should complete the degree by April of 2012. The total cost of the course-work is $2000. Eventually she would like to receive master's level training in the same field of study.

All of New Dawn's eleven teachers are Kenyans, striving to be positive examples as Christian leaders and educators as they respond to God's calling. They are highly devoted, but endure many hardships. Currently their wages are less than half of the national average for secondary teachers, and in the early years of the school, they often went months without receiving wages. (Many struggle to keep their own families fed and their children's school fees paid.) Very few of the teachers have the proper training to support their teaching demands, and they all desire to further their own education. The environment in the village can be very disturbing, and they are teaching students whose own home environments are not supportive of good learning. All of this makes teaching at New Dawn a daily challenge, but one that comes with great rewards too. Ms. Kubo wrote that being in the village environment, and seeing what her students endure daily has taught her greater patience, perseverance, humility and love.
Saba, International encourages you to pray for the teachers of New Dawn, that they might continue to be a blessing to the school, and be blessed by Jesus for fighting the good fight, finishing the race and keeping the faith. (2 Timothy 4:7)
The apostle Paul writes to Timothy: I solemnly urge you: proclaim the message; be persistant, whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching....As for you, always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully.
2 Timothy 4:2-5
posted by Cathy Woller

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Back to School at the Nest

Just as it's time to go back to school here in the U.S., it's also time for the children in Kenya to go back to school. For Kenyans, their school year starts in January, and is composed of three terms and three term breaks. September marks the beginning of their third and final term of the school year.

The Nest is devoted to providing education for the children committed into their care, which involves some unique challenges. When a child comes to the Nest following the incarceration of its mother, it is often mid-term, and sometimes the child is very behind in its schooling. The local primary schools are not able to handle these special needs, so the Nest built a school, and creatively tackles the challenge of bringing its children to age-appropriate learning levels.

The school has a classroom for its "kindergarten" children, ages 2-6 years old. A full-time teacher and an assistant work with a group of about 20 children. Their classroom has a play area with a kitchen, laundry, playhouse, and toys. They also have a small library.

Eager to show off what they are learning!

Another classroom is for the youngest primary-aged children (6-10 years old), and for primary children who will be at the Nest for a very short time. A full-time teacher and an assistant teach about 15 students. On Saturdays there are computer lessons available for these children, which are taught in the school's computer lab.

Once a child is about eleven, or in class 5, they begin attending the local primary school in Limuru. They walk to and from the school each day. All of the secondary students attend boarding school, and only live at the Nest during term breaks.

Gideon proudly displays his math figures!

The school day at the Nest begins at about 9 a.m. At 11 the children break for "uji", which is a drinkable porridge that is really sweet! They learn until their 1 p.m. lunch, and then return to learning until about 5 p.m.

The Nest's commitment to educating its children comes with a variety of costs.

Primary students in the local schools must pay for their required uniforms. Secondary school and boarding are not government sponsored, so the Nest must pay the fees for these students.

The Nest must also pay two full-time teaching staff. Their necessary supplies include paper, crayons, pencils and erasers, scissors, books, toys, puzzles, and teaching aids. Desks and chairs need repair.

Saba, International stands with the Nest in their educational efforts. If you would like to partner with us in giving a financial gift toward the Nest's educational expenses, please make your check payable to : Saba, International, and in the memo line write "Nest education".

mail it to:

Saba, International
c/o Helen Kahl, treasurer
10560 Blue Rock Road
Mt. Horeb, WI 53572

Saba, International commends the Nest for their emphasis on education and their determination to deliver it, whatever the cost. Please pray with us for this effort, that God will bear fruit in the lives of these children and their imprisoned mothers, and that they may stand firm in their determination to learn!

posted by Cathy Woller

photos compliments of Cathy Organ

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


In late June the New Dawn Education Center community gathered to celebrate the inauguration of the Income Generating Activities.

The honored guest was the Danish Ambassador, who helped secure a 1 million Kenyan Shilling (aprroximately $13,000) grant from the Danish Embassy for the school.

The Income Generating Project included the donation of greenhouses and several cows. The intention is that income generated from the sale of milk and vegetables will contribute toward the long-term sustainability strategy for the school. The project currently employs several New Dawn graduates.

Meet Sarah and Prosper...may God indeed prosper their productivity for the sake of New Dawn!

More good news for a recent graduate! Hannington was the top performing student in the inaugural class. He qualified for university and has applied to Nairobi University to study mechanical engineering. A financial sponsor has been secured, for which we praise the Lord! We are very proud of Hannington, and pray that God will continue to open doors for him as he advances his studies!

When we opened the library several years ago, the headmaster, Ben Khalonyere, was as eager as the students to get his hands on the books! (pictured on right)
Over the past few years he has been working on completing his bachelor's degree in the months between school terms, which comes with a great sacrifice by Ben and his family. Please pray for him as he works diligently to advance his education, and may it be a blessing to the students and staff that he leads daily!
Why did I title this posting "Overwhelming"? Because I am overwhelmed by God's providential goodness and how he continues to reveal himself so dramatically in the New Dawn Education Center community. I haven't even included all the good news that I have received...more will come later. Please pray with us for New Dawn, because being agents of justice for the poor can be overwhelming. The evil one would love nothing more than for these young people to continue in their lives of despair, forgotten by the world and the church.
Would you pray in the spirit of faith according to director of New Dawn who recently wrote, "On the Lord's Day we shall celebrate together the combined impact we'll have had on the growth of His kingdom!"
posted by Cathy Woller

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A History Lesson in Library Development

When Irene Tongoi, the director of New Dawn School, visited Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin in April, 2010, she spent an afternoon at the Mt. Horeb Public Library sharing the work and story of New Dawn. It was also a chance for New Dawn to personally thank the Friends of the Library, who were very involved in helping the school start its own library back in 2006!

Library Director, Lysianne Unruh was informed of this project by library clerk, Helen Kahl (who is my mother, and is the treasurer of Saba, International). Lysianne encouraged the Friends to send books to the start-up school. This gift of about 200 books became the foundation of the school's library.

In November 2006, we officially opened the library. It was a big celebration involving the parents and students. We all stood amazed by how quickly God brought this to pass through so many people!

The books were catagorized in boxes and each student was allowed to take home two books for the December term break. The most popular books were the science textbooks!

Can you feel their joy?! Having access to a collection of books was very exciting for the staff and students alike. One of the students once wrote me and said, "Thanks a great deal for bailing us out of a difficult situation by building us a library and helping us in reading." The Library project was the "first fruit" of our work as Saba, Intl. with New Dawn School.

In January of 2007 the school set to work developing a small building into a library and computer lab. In it's humility this library has opened up a world of learning to the students!

In 2009 the school was granted land from a neighboring old-people's home (Mji wa Huruma) on which to build their own school building. More foundations were laid to support a very interesting school facility!

A most amazing school house was fabricated out of 8 shipping containers.

New Dawn desires to build another similar structure for an expanded resource center. When Irene visited the Netherlands and the U.S. in March and April, she had the chance to visit three excellent libraries, and God opened up visions for her of what New Dawn's own resource center might look like! We wait with anxious expectation to see this unfold...
They have acquired the first of eight shipping containers. Each container will cost $3600 to get it into the village, along with the cost of fabricating it into a usable structure.
Part of the grant that Saba, Intl. sent New Dawn in May is for this development project. Please pray for the continued funding of this project and the overall work of the school. Celebrate with us what God has done for New Dawn, and what we await him to do in the future...because He is a faithful God!
Written by Cathy Woller

Friday, June 4, 2010

Playtime at the Nest Children's Home

When our family moved away from Kenya two years ago, an amazing transformation was taking place at the Nest in Limuru. Three young British men were volunteering tremendous amounts of time to help construct a first-rate playground for the children right in the middle of the compound. When I visited the Nest six months ago, here is what I discovered...

The children had watched the construction porcess for so long, eagerly anticipating the fun they could have. When it was finished, the director insisted that they wait even longer (several months), so that the grass would have time to establish itself. Limuru gets a lot of rain, and she was imagining a giant mud pit, and lots of dirty feet and clothes!
The old red slide is given a new home!

The children were happy to demonstrate for me the variety of fun things to do!

The leadership team of the Nest had been envisioning such a playground for a long time, not just for amusing the children, but also as a form of gross-motor play therapy.
The three young men did the hard labor of installing the playground equipment, but there were many others who hleped arrange for the donation, shipment and acquisition of the goods.
Wouldn't it be fun to gather all of us who have partnered with the Nest in some way, and have a field day and picnic with the children and staff!

Jump for Joy!

There is no need to mow around the equipment, because the goats provide that service. In exchange they like to climb around and have fun too! The goats were a gift from a neighbor, and as they breed, the Nest is expected to bless someone else with a small herd! The goats also provide milk for the beloved Chai (tea).

The big kids are allowed on the big equipment, but the small ones must play in their own area. They look on with envy and wait for the day when they can try it out! Use of the playground is restricted to times when it can be supervised by adults, and as a result the equipment is in excellent condition!
Those of us at Saba, International thank you for your ongoing prayer and financial support, and pray that God would continue to watch over the work of the Nest Children's Home as they strive to bring justice into the lives of children and their mothers.
Posted by Cathy Woller