House of Hope

Day 10.

So y'all liked the Flashmob huh? We have to work on our routine a little bit. We had it down a few weeks ago and looks like it's time to brush up on a few areas.(Ahem, Jill) Watch out though, cause you never know when we're gonna bust it out! In other news, many of you have been asking about the "A Night For Hope" benefit show this year. We WILL be having another benefit, but it won't be in 2011 as we have been traveling so intensely. We haven't been available to plan the show the way we want to. Be on the lookout for another benefit in 2012. Thanks for being so supportive and contributing to a cause that's so close to our hearts. For more info, you can always visit www.housesofhopeafrica.com to support!

So far so good on the 31 days of blogging...what would you like us to blog about for the next 21 days?

-j&k-

2 months ago today.

I know I've always heard that time starts to fly the older you get...and wow, I'm really feeling that...cause it seems like just yesterday I was in South Africa with three good friends playing with beautiful kids...when in reality, it was two months ago. But here I am, two months later, sitting on my couch, my TV is on, fuzzy warm slippers on my feet, sipping my freshly brewed coffee and they are still where I left them two months ago. I'll admit that when I'm there I'm focused on their needs...I wonder if they are hungry or consumed with sadness or whether they are having a good time playing the silly game we taught them, etc. But somehow, when you are removed from them, you start to forget about them. I know that sounds horrible, but it's true--at least for me. Please don't get me wrong, I don't forget about them in a permanent sense but I don't think I live with the thought that every hour of every day I live in luxury and there are kids out there who need help...lots of help.

So that's where I'm at this morning...wondering how I can help more, how I can keep them at the forefront of my mind because they are still there. And for the twenty-something kids that I met and locked eyes with, there are millions more out there. I live in a world of absolute excess...I'm embarrassed at times at the amount of food I buy at the grocery store and waste because I just chose to eat something else. I wake up in the morning in a warm bed, can take a hot shower anytime I'd like, I can see a doctor whenever I choose, etc. I live in a world of excess.

The story I am about to share is heavy, heart wrenching and true. I wanted to share with you because this is reality. It's not separated from me anymore. A girl who was dropped off at an orphan home in South Africa hours before we got there is 13 and has AIDS. Both her parents have died. She was living with her aunt who was physically abusing her and while that was going on, her uncle was repeatedly raping her. Her aunt found out and got mad at this precious little girl and kicked her out. I could hardly believe my ears. This was this girl's reality just hours before we arrived.  And now she is living at one of the orphan homes in South Africa. This story hit me hard.

I wish I had a nice way to tie up my thoughts...so I'll leave you with a pic of the kids doing a little painting craft when we were there 2 months ago. You have no idea how much your prayers and love helps these kids. Thank you for supporting them with us. xoxo -k

Highlights from Africa

On August 10th, 2010 Team Africa...a.k.a. Jill, Kate, Todd & Meghan flew to South Africa to hang out with the amazing kids at the House of Hope. We had a fabulous time and wanted to share some highlights with you :)

Playing cards prior to boarding the 15 hour flight. Plus, Kate bought a new camera in the airport and was testing it out.

In the airport after landing, Todd met....drum roll....MISS INDIA GLOBE 2010!!! Who's excited?

Play time on the lawn out in front of the Houses.

Todd giving a little photo lesson.

Craft time with fun foam letters.

We did a painting craft out on the lawn...it was fun...some of the kids even used the paint to paint their faces. Haha.

Noted: Don't turn your back on kids with paint :)

Before we left, people donated clothes, shoes, etc. We divided them into plastic bags & gave one to each kid.

Team Africa!

Laundry drying.

More craft fun--we printed out pics and they decorated their own frames!

We made one to leave with them!

Coloring time.

One of the kids taking Todd's camera around taking some sweet shots.

Project OFB continues. We taught them how to make them and read them some of your letters.

More coloring.

Special delivery on some hand made hats!

The kids were so happy!

On our way to the airport we stopped and visited a kiddo that we met last time that is now at a different home. We got him some little shoes that light up! Woohoo!

We spent the last day of the trip in Kruger Park and saw some animals...but we'll share those pics in the near future. Thanks for all of your love and support for the kids.

Much love from super jet lagged jillandkate :)

Ps...our SOT17th is still coming...but Jill lost her voice on the trip so we are on hold until she has it back!

Friendship FRENZY!!

Okay...so you know that we thought you guys were all cool and awesome already...but after evaluating the IMMENSE, CRAZY AMOUNTS of friendship bracelets we received to take with us to the kids at the Houses of Hope we are absolutely, positively blown away by your absolute coolness and generosity :) THANK YOU SO MUCH! Some of you even sent other items because you didn't feel creatively inclined to make bracelets...and that was awesome too!  Seriously...we are so excited to get over there and give the kids their bracelets. We are gonna be taking as many pictures as possible--so we will do our best to document the bracelets on their precious little wrists!

Thank you so much for taking the time to do this fun project with us. Looking around we are so blessed, by SO much....we are looking forward to sharing some quality time with these kids.

Again...thank you. Pat yourselves on the backs for making this a HUGELY successful bracelet-making mission. Tell your friends and neighbors and ice cream man that you made some kid in Africa super happy.

Okay.

More updates coming soon.

Love to each of you.

-j&k-

Operation Friendship Bracelets!

Hello everybody! If you follow us on Twitter you've probably seen our tweets about making friendship bracelets this past weekend! Our friend Meghan had an awesome idea to make friendship bracelets and take them to the kids at the Houses of Hope. A few of us are taking a trip to Africa pretty soon to go hang out with the kids again and we thought that we could make some for the kids, but also teach them a fun craft!

So, if you want to make a bracelet or two and send them to us before August 2, 2010, we will take them with us and give them to the kids!

All you need to do is head over to your local craft store and buy a bunch of this thread: (it's not too pricy either--a BIG package for under $4):

Then, either find a friend to teach you or go & watch this handy how-to video....

You can experiment with all different patterns etc....this is one Jill is currently working on:

It is kind of time consuming...but we have also felt it's kind of therapeutic :) We've turned FRIENDS on in the background and tied away!

The end result is a bunch of these:

So, if you feel so inclined to make one of these bad boys--send us your bracelet to this address:

ALD c/o HOH

P.O. Box 176

Wheaton, IL 60187

Feel free to include a letter if you'd like...we promise to take all of them with us and share them with the kids.

Lots of love and friendship bracelets...

j&k...and meghan!

Houses of Hope Africa Website Launch

The Houses of Hope Africa website has launched!

Many of you have asked about donating to the orphanage that we visited in South Africa and we are proud to tell you now you can.   The Houses of Hope are built and run under the non-profit organization African Leadership Development and so all of your donations are tax deductible. You can donate through a Paypal account or using a credit/debit card.

We will be updating the website regularly with updates on the children, more pictures, some video footage of our time with them in March, and some creative ways you can help support the Houses of Hope children. So, visit the site today but also keep checking back...you'll want to bookmark this address: http://www.housesofhopeafrica.com

We wish that each of you reading this could stand in front of one of these kids--they are truly remarkable and radiate joy and hope despite their circumstances. They exude love.

Thank you for your interest in these kids.

Much love,

-j&k-

www.housesofhopeafrica.com

No words.

Hey! We left cold, rainy Amsterdam on Tuesday afternoon and arrived in sunny, HOT South Africa Wednesday morning. We had a lovely little lay-over in London where we ate at our favorite airport restaurant called Giraffe (appropriate right...on our way to AFRICA ..haha :) ) and hopped on a half-empty flight to Jo'berg. Ten and a half hours isn't so bad when you have a whole row of seats to yourself. We each watched the Michael Jackson movie "This is It" and then slept pretty much until we landed..woohoo!

We spent the next two days at a place called the House of Hope which is an orphan home in the township of Temba...about an hour and a half away from where we were staying in Jo'berg. My (kate) dad has a non-profit organization that does work in Africa and he and some other people built the orphan home which opened about a year ago.

The first day we painted their "community" room and played/hung out with the kids. The second day we brought them some new clothes and toys...then had a party with them complete with Kentucky Fried Chicken, balloons, streamers, cupcakes, and music....it was AMAZING.

It's hard to put into words what an incredible time we had with the kids and the house mothers/helpers. The warmth that you feel from these kids is so real. We had so much fun running around, playing in the dirt, running in the grass...I think we had a better time than the kids! We laughed a lot, cried even more and it broke our hearts when we had to say goodbye.

We know a lot of you have been asking if there is a way that you could donate to the orphan kids--we will get that information to you as soon as we can.

Here are some pictures from our few days with these wonderful people! -j&k-

Such a sweet girl.

Aben spreading some laughter.

Jill getting some awesome braids put in her hair.

They loved our sunglasses. They now have our sunglasses :)

Miles jamming with the rhythm section.

He is the sweetest boy ever.

She was excited earlier in the day because Elizabeth is my middle name. Maybe I was overboard in this snapshot with my excited-ness :)

So much fun happening on the lawn.

Jim holding the kiddos.

Two of the kids :) Love them.

Nope. No words for how much this kid stole our hearts.

Mr. Snuggle munchkin.

Ahh...so precious.

Getting some sweet braids!

Jason painting the walls of the community room.

Jill hanging with the kids.

Not really sure what they were looking at but they are cute doing it! And that's my dad :)

The ladies getting their paint on...yes, we literally got it all over ourselves! So fun!

Miles playing with the kids.

Soccer time.

Playing on the green grass.

LOve, love, love them.

Learning the song "Home" that they sang with us at the Coca-Cola Dome in Jo'berg.

Some more singing.

Ashley and some of the girls backstage.

Holding hands, walking to the stage.

There were 13,000 people there and the kids did GREAT!

Group shot.