Wednesday, September 3, 2014

These kids

These kids are His children.

These kids were made for unique and important purposes.

These kids were born into lives with immense challenges that many of us will never encounter.

These kids smile. Everyday. And laugh and dance and sing. Not despite the struggles their stories contain, but in the midst of them.

These kids also cry. Some shout, some act out, some want to give up sometimes.

But, oh these kids... He loves them, I love them, and HE has a plan. He holds each of them. Everyday.

These kids still need sponsors. These kids need access to education, medical care, shoes, soap, food, His story. 

YOU can help these kids. Contact me; facebook, email, text. Let me know if you are able and willing to join these kids in support of their life and their future. I can tell you exactly how it all works, exactly what it entails, where your support goes, and more about the beautiful face and story you pick. A message isn't a commitment; just a desire to know more.

 These kids have captured my heart. The time I spend with my sponsor child in Malawi is priceless. And the faces of the kids when they see your picture and read about the person that sponsors them are priceless; I've seen them. This DOES make a difference.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Tree Keeper

Sitting on the floor in a classroom in Malawi, I took a deep breath before the puppet show started. This was it; after almost a year working on this project, the special needs children of Malawi were about to hear the story written just for them. As we started, I couldn’t see much around the edge of the sheet we knelt behind with our puppets. Two of the few people were Felix and his father. Felix
is 4 and was born with albinism, which is considered a special need in Malawi. At 4 years old, his attention span is understandably short, but I could see Felix’s dad making sure Felix saw the entire story. Between nodding along in agreement and re-directing his son’s attention, Felix’s dad’s eyes were locked on the puppet show as my teammate and the book’s editor, L, read The Tree Keeper out loud. It struck me how quiet it was. With 25+ special needs kids and their caregivers, it’s
rarely quiet at our camp.

 After we finished, L and I stood in front of the group to give a brief summary of what the book contained and why we wrote it. The quiet continued as the group watched us with rapt attention. I got to the sentence telling them that we had brought a book for each of the kids to take home with them and stopped, waiting for the translator to catch up. As he finished his sentence in their native language, the hushed room burst into applause. I had a moment of silent relief as I waited, smiling, for the applause to stop; any worries or doubts I had had about the reception of the book washed away with that round of applause. That was the beginning of an amazing week of learning how much He has been and is still working in the lives of these awesome kids who have so much potential. 

After writing this book with M, B, and L, we had one goal; to bring the Tree Keeper to these kids. We wanted 30 books, written specifically for children in Malawi, to help teach the kids at our camp about special needs and His love for them. But He had more in mind. As our opportunities grew, so did our support from friends and family. Our reservoir of books grew to more than 140 and I don’t believe we had one more or less than was needed in Malawi.
The first batch left early this summer with M as she served as a teaching consultant for 6 weeks in Malawi. Not knowing exactly what her time there would look like, she was excited to see where the books would be used during her stay. She ended up having a great experience doing a special needs workshop with many teachers and was able to give a book to each teacher to use in their classrooms as well as for personal reference. Another unexpected stop for The Tree Keeper was in one of Malawi's special needs classes. Malawi has very few classes for special needs kids, about 3 of which are near where we were working. The books that we had left over from each of our projects went to a sweet special needs teacher who read the story with her class and had a special time with one of her students who has Downs Syndrome. The student identified with one of the characters in the book and was able to talk with her teacher specifically about her special need and read about the great plan He has for her life. This encouraged us that our “extra” books were in no way there by mistake!

The second batch traveled to Malawi in July with B and the teach team. Primary and secondary school teachers from all over the city left the seminar with a copy. New ideas of inclusion were presented and some tough questions were brought up. The team was able to start some conversations about changes in education and acceptance of children who learn differently. Despite the small number of special needs classes in Malawi, I don’t believe it was in any way a coincidence when another one of those teachers arrived at their seminar. He had already asked for more time to spend reading the book when he found out that the team had brought one for him to keep as a resource for him and his class!

The last set of books arrived in August with the special needs team. I could tell you stories of children seeing a character that looked like them for the first time, teenagers expressing the need they have seen for this information, caregivers’ stories of how their children have changed and thrived with the knowledge of their worth, questions about common myths relating to special needs in the book, and understanding on the faces of kids who are learning about their differences. 


But, for time sake, it will have to suffice to say Thank you. Thank you to my friends and family for taking an interest in a population many of you have never met. Thank you for loving these kids who are so precious to me. Thank you for believing in the people of Malawi who, I believe, are on the path towards making a difference in the lives of these very special children. Thank you.

Thursday, July 31, 2014


 That's right, my team, The Tree Keeper, and I are going to Malawi on Saturday!!!

It's been so exciting getting to know my team so far, knowing we will know each other oh so much better after these next few weeks!

Over 140 copies of The Tree Keeper have been donated! We are thrilled to be handing out copies to the kids as well as share the Tree Keeper story with them at camp!

Can't begin to describe how excited I am to see where this path leads! See you in 2 weeks!! :-)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

It's Here!!

I'm SO excited to announce that....

The Tree Keeper is now available! We are now collecting book donations for the children in Malawi! If you would like to order a copy for yourself or donate one to Malawi, please follow the below steps:

1. Go to
2. Search for “The Tree Keeper”
3. Add to cart
4. Ship any donation books to:

KayEmElleBee Books
P.O. Box 622252
Oviedo, FL 32762

Thank you so much for your support!

Also, all profit from this book is being given back to orphans in Malawi. The group we will be working with this summer cares for orphaned and abandoned children. So, not only will you be giving a book to a beautiful child, you will also be supporting the efforts of this amazing group.
THANK YOU for helping us share the message we desperately want these children to know- they are beautiful and were made with a purpose!

Learn More at my site :-)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Two Passions: My story

I never planned on working with special needs kids. I started with a volunteer opportunity that satisfied some community service requirements I had for school. I was not introduced to these kids well and actually left that opportunity thinking that I would not volunteer with this population again. However, shortly after, a friend told me that the special needs Sunday school class needed some extra hands. I had a hard time saying "no" those days, so, every six weeks, I showed up to help out. But that quickly became every 3 weeks and then, when a teaching opportunity came up, I became the leader of the class. It was later, when the same friend told me about a part time job working with kids like my Sunday school kids, that I realized what had happened; I had fallen in love.

I found myself loving the kids I worked with, the families I met through them, the community these families formed together. This work led me to pursuing pediatrics in my nursing career where I got to learn more about these kids and continue to interact with them during some of their more challenging periods of life. I was hooked.

I know this will come as a surprise to many, but I actually never planned on working in Africa either. I grew up dreaming of travel; of new places, people, and culture. As my dreams grew, I decided that I needed to settle down my focus to one area of the world; I surely couldn't go everywhere, and what I picked may surprise some. I chose Asia. I even went as far as to start learning some phrases in some of the languages spoken there. But, as I was planning on how and when to go there, I decided to make a trip to Africa. Just to get a quick taste since (I thought) I would not be going back there after I started my travels to another continent. I don't think I need to go into much explanation about what happened next, but, to put it simply, my heart as not yet been able to leave Africa behind.

By now, you'd think I would realize that my plans are often not His plans. But, as the story goes, I NEVER planned on combining these two passions. However, as many know, that's what happened last summer in Malawi. I spent two weeks working with a beautiful, loving, fun, and ambitious group of special needs children and their families in Africa. Watching the beginnings of their community form as the families spent more time together in an environment where everyone was just a little different, my heart grew inspired and hopeful for the future of these kids; for the future of Malawi. One of the barriers, however, that we saw time and time again, was the misunderstanding of these great kids. Not for lack of willingness to learn, but from a lack of availability of information. If you grew up hearing that albino children come from parents who did something wrong, what else could you think when you had an albino child yourself, but to assume you were at fault? This, more than most things, is what broke my heart.

Upon returning, a new friend from my trip, M, and I started talking about a way we could encourage the growth and acceptance of the special needs community in Malawi. As our hopes turned to plans, my long time friend, L, who is an amazing editor, was brought on board, followed by another old friend, B, who is an avid artist. The group came together and "The Tree Keeper" was born. The Tree Keeper is a story of children, some of whom have special needs, who come together for a common purpose, each using their unique abilities, and accomplish more than they ever could alone. In a story of acceptance and value, this book conveys the idea that no one was made by mistake. Following the story, this short book gives a brief overview of what each of these special needs are and what they are not. What causes special needs, and what does not. And what is helpful to these kids, and what is not.

We'll go back this summer, all four of us in different capacities, and share our book. We don't know exactly how it will be received or what will come next, but the book will be made available to kids in schools, to teachers, to the special needs kids themselves, and their families. We hope for this book to be a stepping stone in Malawi's journey to affect the culture surrounding these astounding children.

Long story short: I'm going back, but not with empty hands.

Visit my site below for more information on how to get involved, support my trip, or donate Tree Keeper books to Malawi. As I yearn to support a community in Malawi, I know that I never would have and never will again set foot in Malawi without the support of my community here. And for that, I am forever grateful, inspired, and blessed. Thank you to all who support me in any way.

The Tree Keeper goes to Malawi

Monday, February 24, 2014