New Hope for a New Generation

It’s difficult to identify New Hope’s greatest accomplishment.  Their orphanage provides shelter, nourishment, discipline, and counseling to over 100 HIV positive children.  Their school educates over 170 children and their clinic provides affordable healthcare to nearly 500 patients from the surrounding area.  Each of these is monumental.  But none compare to the extraordinary revolution New Hope has given the Meru Community.  

Clinic patients wait to be seen.

Caroline, a clinic technician.

In defiance of norms, superstitions and ignorant health concerns, New Hope treats both HIV positive and negative patients in their clinic and teaches both HIV positive and negative children in their classrooms.  The result is massive progress towards abolishing the devastating social stigma that surrounds HIV.  

It’s impossible to overstate how destructive the HIV stigma is in Africa.  It causes physical and psychological suffering to HIV positive people and denies them their basic human rights (an example being the HIV positive children who are pitilessly abandoned and now live at New Hope).  These repercussions cause many people to deny their condition and take no medication or precaution.  The HIV medication, along with helping with symptoms and progression, prevents the disease from passing to a child during pregnancy.  The parents remain in denial and the result is the generation of innocent HIV positive children at New Hope who dutifully take their medication morning and night. 

Each child has a cubby for their medication.  The dosage depends on their stage of HIV.

A house mother calls roll to give out morning medicine.

It begins and ends with these children.  If you watch them play, it would be easy to overlook that most of them have endured nothing short of horror in their short lives.  One of our jobs while at New Hope was to have the children write their story.   In simple seven-year-old language, they describe starvation, beatings, death, child labor, and abandonment.  And then, they describe coming to New Hope.

They didn’t expect to be received.  They didn’t expect to have friends.  Many had never had a home.  They were scared, lonely, and HIV positive.  They’d never known a secure future.  And then, New Hope swooped in.

A chalkboard from Class 5 at New Hope School.

The kids are constantly holding hands.

And the older ones take care of the younger ones.  And all of them take care of the babies.

And the older ones take care of the younger ones.  And all of them take care of the babies.

Now, the children play.  They study hard and sit quietly through three-hour church services on Sunday.  They eat five meals a day and take medicine every morning and every night.  They laugh when they catch balls and cry when they fall.  They talk openly about being HIV positive and they have teachers and counselors who will listen. 

Africa is complicated and the challenges are overwhelming.  We were discouraged and, without seeing it with our own eyes, we wouldn’t have believed that an organization like New Hope could exist.  But it does.  And they’re nourishing a new generation of Africans who will carry their banner and change their world.  And we should all cheer them on. 

Click Here to learn more about New Hope and their parent organization March to the Top.  For information on how to sponsor one of these incredible children, please email

The Great Migration: Safari on Steroids

The border of Kenya and Tanzania holds a plethora of safari options.  The most interesting to us?  The Ngorongoro Crater for the scenery, and the Maasai Mara for the infamous Great Migration.

The Ngorongoro crater is deservedly a UNESCO heritage site and a natural wonder.  If the crater itself wasn’t enough of a draw, inside the crater is home to tons of game animals including the Big Five.  We saw lions, elephants, giraffes and even the rare and endangered rhinos!


The biggest show for us, however, was the supreme safari of the world: The Great Migration.  The Migration is one of the most impressive natural phenomenons in the world—about 1.7 million wildebeest, 260,000 zebra, and 470,000 gazelle follow water up to the concentrated land in Maasai Mara, Kenya.  The precarious journey is a highlight for both the predators and spectators alike! 

Wildebeests migrate in a straight line and you can see it stretch across the entire horizon!

When you pick your destination for the Migration, it all depends on timing and where the herds will be.  That made the Maasai Mara the place for us.  We found the fabulous game lodge Aruba Mara to make the experience complete.

Wow.  With all of the wildebeests and other prey, the predators come out in droves. We saw a cheetah and her babies eating a kill—twice!  We saw multiple lion prides, a family of leopards, giraffes, elephants, massive crocodiles, and tons of others!

It was the perfect finale to our safari experience and certainly the highlight.  A huge thanks to Gerdi and her Aruba Mara team for making our Great Migration experience everything we hoped.

With all of the good given to us, it’s time to give back.  Next up: Volunteering with New Hope in Kenya.  In the meantime, Click Here to read What We Learned in the Maasai Mara.

Lessons from the Maasai Mara and Ngorogoro Crater

More Lessons from the Wild

1.  Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania was formed when a volcano collapsed on itself.  It is 2,000 feet deep and covers 100 square miles.

2.  Horns grow directly from the skull.  Not sure what we thought they did (maybe a joint?), but there ya have it.

3.  During the great migration, 1.7 million wildebeests migrate from Tanzania to Kenya.  In our inexpert opinion, wildebeest are possibly the ugliest creatures on the planet and our guide told us they’re also fairly dumb.  But they certainly reproduce in large quantities!

4.  Giraffes have their babies standing up.  Ouch.

5.  Hyenas have the strongest teeth and jaws of the African predators.

6.  When Lions mate, they do so up to 100 times per day for up to 7 days around the clock.  They usually don’t even stop to eat.  We learned about this process first hand.  Email us for a pic—we felt weird posting it!

7.  The Maasai are the best know tribe in East Africa (thanks, in part, to the book Out of Africa).  The Maasai Mara Game Reserve is even named after them!  Today, their indigenous lifestyle remains fairly consistent with their ancestors and they act as guides to kooks like us. 

8.  The Massai are generally Christians as well as polygamists. 

9.  Out of Africa explains the Massai’s obsession with cattle and this is still true today.  In fact, a girl is considered a blessing because a male must pay in many cattle to marry her.  In their dowry system, the male pays to marry a female instead of her father paying for the husband to take her.

10.  Elephants mourn.  For years after they lose a loved one, they’ll often return to the place of the death on the exact day of the loss.  Other scientists record them crying and showing signs of depression over loss.

That's What We Learned in the Maasai Mara, Click Here to read details on What We Did.