Stories From Our Team

Throughout the years, volunteers from our local community have had the opportunity to visit Kenya through our mission trips. Read what they have to say about the impact Starfish Kenya has had in their lives.

Marco Becerra

Marco Valderrama

My first time serving with Starfish Kenya at House of Hope was the most amazing testimony of how God’s love works.  Every kid showed an unconditional love and respect for our team.  I particularly enjoyed seeing friendly faces waiting for us every morning just to say hello and to learn more about us. It was incredible to always see them happy even when most of them had broken hearts and sad stories behind their smiley faces.  House of Hope is a place for them to find and share God’s love, learn good values, have a family and believe that their dreams can become reality.  I went to Kenya thinking that I was the giver, but in reality I received more from them.  They touched my heart in a special way and changed me.  If you are wondering what I am talking about, I invite you to be part of Starfish Kenya and discover how your life can be changed as well.

Something that really impacted me was spending time with young men from House of Hope. Many of them want to become a role model for the younger generations and want to help their communities in the future.  These young men look up to male figures and have a strong desire to talk about how to live a godly life, values, dreams and many other important topics to them. This is why it is very important for more of us to spend time with them as mentors, so that they can be assured that they can not only be role models, but they can change the world around them with God’s help.

Susan Hageman

In contrast to the difficult images many have seen of children in Kenya, my view at House of Hope is a sea of smiling faces, full bellies, healing, growing minds and gratitude – grateful for even one (maybe holey!) pair of socks to wash in the sink each night, grateful for food from the garden, for school, for church and for safety. Grateful for chores and homework. Grateful for hope.

As a grassroots mission that began with one rescued child and a check from our friends to help put food on the table, House of Hope remains dependent on regular people to give what we can, regularly. In return, the children fill our hearts and teach us what blessings really are.

Susan Hageman
Phil Davis

Phil Davis

Why did God bless my wife Lynn and me with such wonderful people we’ve met through Starfish Kenya?  Could it be that that there are lots of caring folks who want to join a loving outreach to make a huge difference and enjoy every minute in contributing?

“Old folk” retirees like us were curious and willing to learn about the needs of Kenyan children.  Once we saw first-hand that Starfish Kenya in partnership with Kenyan leaders could make a difference for needy children, a foundation was set in our hearts, never to waver.  We look back on our ten travels to Kenya, we call them mission trips, and feel like the luckiest retirees ever.

On our most recent visit, our trip leader asked what activity was on my heart to pursue while in Kenya.  End result:  two of us and Kenyan leader Mr. Moses met with sixty young men to consider, “what will your legacy be?”.  The possibilities for them and for their influence on others are great.

Jesus tells us, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  So, I encourage you to infuse your life with joy by sponsoring a child.  I’ve discovered freedom in being less focused on myself by being open to opportunities that are available through Starfish Kenya.

Join with some exceptional people here and in Kenya to experience sharing our treasures where it really makes a difference.

Gabby Go

My first trip to House of Hope was in 2011 as a junior in high school, but these children had long been part of my life. We had grown up learning about Starfish Kenya, and my parents had instilled a mission mindset in us from a young age. Yet nothing could have prepared me for the rush of emotions and connection I felt after arriving on the fertile soil of House of Hope. God’s goodness and presence were so evident. The children were, in many ways, much like children elsewhere – spirited, mischievous, vibrant. Yet many of them had seen and experienced situations far beyond their years, all the while exuding an undeniable strength. In subsequent years I have had the opportunity to return, each time continuing to be taught, humbled, and transformed by the kids and staff. To watch them grow and succeed, becoming the next great leaders of Kenya, routinely brings tears to my eyes.

It was during that 2011 trip that I found my calling as a doctor, largely fueled by the health disparities I saw and the difference that access to healthcare can make, as seen in the children at House of Hope. Fast forward to now, and I am in my final year of medical school. I can recall many times when I wanted to give up, but leaning on God’s promise and remembering their faces gave me motivation. If you were to ask me how my career path began, my answer would be the same as it has been since 2011: God’s work in and through the children at House of Hope.

Gabby Go
Jeri Gardner-Wright

Jeri Gardner

My first trip to House of Hope was eleven years ago and the memories of that visit will always have a special place in my heart.   Most on the mission team that year were veterans who knew exactly what skills they wanted to teach the children. I, on the other hand, was uncertain and prayed long and hard about what I had to offer.  Thankfully, the Holy Spirit reminded me that I grew up in a farming family.  So, I inquired about teaching a farming class.  The founding director, the late Margaret Basigwa, liked the idea and gave it a thumbs up. When we arrived, I was overjoyed that six little boys had signed up for the class.  They showed up early every day ready to work and we had a blast tilling God’s soil and planting His seeds!  Once our team left the boys continued to farm and grow their skills.  Margaret was impressed with their efforts and decided to create a school garden so every child at House of Hope would have an opportunity to learn about farming in addition to the rigorous academic curriculum required in Kenya.

In all the years since then those boys and I reunite each time I visit and we tour the farm known as a “shamba” where they bring me up to date on their goals and dreams. Remarkably, the youngest of the boys I met on my first mission trip in 2009 is now a young man who will start university this fall – hallelujah!   My thought then is the same as it is now:  “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day.  Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” -Chinese proverb.