Comet House was born from the heart and soul of the Gituku family. Ann and her brother Fredrick, together with their parents, Teresiah and Steven, created this very special home to provide food, clothing, shelter, and school fees for some of the poorest children from their village. Teresiah and Ann began the outreach several years ago, when they started serving meals to children in need, and Fredrick has led service projects (with volunteers from Atlanta) since 2008 through the 501(c)3 organization that he co-founded, Mtoto Africa.
My personal interest in Kenya began two years ago, when William Gituku (Fredrick’s son, now a rising fourth grader) was in my first-grade class at Westminster Schools. He’s a wonderful boy, and I got to know his parents quite well. His mother (Christy) is from Atlanta and his father (Fredrick) is from Kenya. Our class learned a lot about Kenyan culture that year (including learning how to make soccer balls from newspaper and grocery bags!) and together we earned a bit of money to send soccer balls and books to a school in Fredrick’s village. Here is a video that tells that story — Exploring Kenya in First Grade
This past year, William’s younger sister Marjorie was in my class and my desire to travel to Kenya deepened. When I was invited to chaperone my school’s exchange program to Mount Kenya Academy, I jumped at the chance. My whole first grade team (4 classes, 8 teachers, 80 students) got involved, and all of us learned a lot about the animals and habitats of Africa, as well as the culture of Kenya.
When school let out for the summer, I had the incredible opportunity to spend three weeks in Kenya, where I met Fredrick’s sister and parents. Here’s just a little bit about each of them —
Fredrick’s younger sister Ann is truly a Wonder Woman. She is raising two beautiful children (Hailey, age 7, and Jeremy, age 2) while also working full-time for the PCEA Outreach Foundation in Kikuyu. Ann’s home and farm are a model of sustainability, and she served as the general contractor for the building of Comet House — in her free time :-) Ann’s nature is quiet (but friendly), hardworking, and unassuming… and the boys adore her.
Fredrick and Ann’s mother, Teresiah, is the salt of the earth. She cares for the boys of Comet House as though they are her own grandchildren. Teresiah is a wonderful cook, and she seems most happily at home in the kitchen. I watched her effortlessly manage 3 stoves (two inside and one outside) at the same time, and I looked forward to every meal (and the chai tea) that she served us. The boys call her “ShoSho” (‘grandmother’ in Kikuyu) with greatest affection. Not surprisingly, Teresiah is a very active member of the Women’s Guild at her Church.
Steven Gituku played an essential role in supervising the digging of the deep-bore well that will provide clean water (as well as a source of income) to Comet House in the future. I first met Steven while he was slaughtering a goat on the morning of the of the Comet House Open House. He was eager to teach the traditions to the children, and he seemed delighted to share them with me as well. (Without getting too graphic, let’s just say that each body part has a particular purpose…)
Fredrick is Ann’s older brother, and although he now lives in Atlanta he returns to Kenya frequently and is committed to doing what he can to improve the lives of his fellow Kenyans. As Ann pointed out many times, their’s is “a small town… where everyone knows everyone”, and after spending 3 weeks in Kenya I can assure you that absolutely everyone knows Fredrick! I feel so lucky to have gotten to know this wonderful family, and I am so grateful to all of them for making me feel right at home in Kenya.