Host Home Guide
Welcome to the Daraja Experience!
We are so grateful that you have agreed to open your home and heart to us as we prepare to ignite hearts in worship and connect lives to serve. You play a significant part in the Daraja Choir Tour experience—without you we would not be able to do what we do!
As you may know, children require much structure in the home. The children from Africa are especially in need of this as they adjust to American culture. We’ve provided a typical set of standards so the children can have a smooth transition in your home, and you too will have an enjoyable experience.
You are encouraged to thoroughly read through this information, and reference it often for specific questions you may have along the way. We have attempted to include as much information as you could possibly need in this guide, and are available to you to answer questions as well.
The Daraja Team is excited to meet you!
Each chaperone has a small amount of funds if a child should develop an illness and need over-the-counter medications. Only a chaperone is permitted to give medication to a child. In case of a serious emergency, please contact our Tour Leaders:
Clinton Hicks: 940-704-3155
Shelby Hicks: 940-632-9099
As you prepare your home and family for the Daraja experience, we first want to help you understand their cultures and know how to best engage with your children. The way we see it, knowing one another’s background is the first step to becoming friends!
First, some helpful hints to remember…
Home situation: All of the children in the choir live in the equivalent of 10’x10’ or 15’x15’ homes. They come from varying degrees of poverty, and most use pit latrines instead of toilets, with limited access to running water near their home and limited to no electricity. Most of the children have not had much exposure to television and western culture.
Parents: Some of the children have been orphaned their entire life, with no parents. Most of the children have at least one parent, but come from developing communities where basic needs are questionable, leaving them vulnerable to poor nutrition and the potential of not completing primary school.
Hygiene: Many of the girls have very short hair (what we in the U.S. would consider a “boy’s” haircut). This is for hygiene purposes when they are at home and to avoid the expenses of keeping up with their hair needs while on tour. Please make your family aware of this prior to the children’s arrival so that it does not surprise them or lead them to ask uncomfortable questions.
Meals: America has many options, especially when it comes to food! This is not the case in other countries, and most children are used to a steady diet. While the children adjust to America as we travel, it is best to limit options for food to 2 or 3. You do not have to give options at all, but if you do, please limit them. Please see the section on meals, food and dietary guidelines for further explanation.
Independence: In many other countries, children serve their parents. In the U.S., parents most often serve the children. Please be careful not to overly pamper the children as this will make it more difficult for them to adjust back to their culture. Please allow the children to cut their own food (even if they are struggling with it), clean up after themselves, and help with any chores (like cooking or cleaning) that you feel comfortable with.
Climate: Because there is no air conditioning where the children live, they are not accustomed to cooler temperatures. Please remember to keep that in mind when setting the temperature of their rooms. At minimum, please make extra blankets available in their bedrooms so they are warm through the night.
Language: The children speak English in their schools, but typically speak Rutoro, their mother tongue (tribal language), or Swahili at home. The level of their English will vary. Their language skills also change dramatically as we travel. If you are a host home at the beginning of tour, it will be a greater challenge to talk freely than if you have them near the end of tour. At the beginning of tour, the children tend to be quiet due to their insecurity with the language and the American accent. Just remember to speak slowly and clearly.
We know, we know. “House rules” doesn’t sound very fun. Let’s just say we’ve learned a lot through the several years of touring with the Daraja Choir! We have developed a set of standards to ensure everyone has a very meaningful experience, and we hope they will assist you in making the most of your time as a Host Family!
The children are accustomed to sharing rooms and beds. We request that chaperones and children of opposite genders do not share a room (i.e. female chaperones keeping boys should not share a room with the boys). Also, we request the chaperone have a bed of his/her own even if it is in the same room as the children.
The children often sleep 2 to a queen bed and 3 to a king bed. Futons, air mattresses, and couches are also acceptable sleeping arrangements.
Unfortunately, it is normal that we have a few children who habitually wet the bed. We normally equip these children with mattress protectors and the chaperone can move the children within your sleeping arrangements to minimize embarrassment and inconvenience for you and the children.
We also ask, for the assurance of the children and chaperone receiving adequate rest, to please not share a room with the host’s children.
While we know that you will want to visit with your guests, the children need to get plenty of sleep. We ask that, when possible, the children be in bed by 9:00pm. On occasion, our Tour Leaders will let you know if that can be later due to less activity on the following day.
If possible, please provide laundry facilities for the children’s and chaperone’s clothing. The chaperones are responsible for doing the laundry of the children.
Whenever possible, we prefer the children are able to interact in more personal ways than video games and movies. In addition, all movies should be rated G (unless otherwise approved) and all video games MUST be rated E. Please note: if you do allow the Daraja children to play video games, please do not let them go over the MAXIMUM OF 45 MINUTES A DAY.
Additionally, members of the choir are NOT permitted to use the Host Home telephones or computers, and we request that you do not offer these services to them.
If the chaperones have their own computer, they are welcome to use your WiFi at your discretion. Every chaperone has access to a Daraja computer or phone during the day to contact home.
We strongly discourage giving gifts to the children as it creates a sense of entitlement and favoritism among the children. However, we DO allow you to create a SINGLE SCRAPBOOK PAGE for them. This can have pictures and notes from you and your family. Place on 8 ½” x 11” paper so it will fit into the album we have created for them. Another way you can give to the children is to consult our needs list which Shelby Hicks our Tour Leader will have, or ask her about any pressing needs we have at the moment.
We have a general rule among the children that they must always try and accept what they are served. There are several reasons for this, but we prefer that you allow the children to adjust to the American culture and the food that we eat here rather than offering other alternatives. You will know in advance if there are any food allergies to avoid. Other than allergies and the few vegetarians we have, we would like the children to eat what is served.
We’ve provided the guidelines below to assist you in how to best prepare for their dietary needs. While we know it can be difficult to restrict the children, we want to emphasize being mindful of their bodies and how they are simply not used to typical food items eaten in America.
- Whenever possible, we encourage SUGAR-FREE options for the children.
- On non-event days kids may have just one sweet/dessert after dinner time.
- Please be aware of the few kids that are vegetarian or have a food allergy (this will be noted on host homes list).
- We ask that you never pack a sweet in the children’s lunch. We reserve dinner for dessert time to make it simple to follow the “one sweet a day” Rule
- The children DO NOT DRINK CAFFEINATED BEVERAGES before concerts. Suggested concert-day beverages include: water, lemonade, Sprite, Crystal Light beverages, decaffeinated sweet tea, hot tea or coffee. Please note: several of our children drink milk with their dinner to prevent bedwetting
- Cheese is not a popular item, but some like it. Mild cheese like mozzarella (in pizza, lasagna, etc.) is okay, but anything else is an acquired taste for them.
- BEANS OF ANY KIND: kidney, black, red, pinto, etc.
- Rice and ANYTHING (Chinese food is a great option)
- Sweet potatoes!! (unsugared)/potatoes (small or mashed)
- Hot dogs/Hamburgers
- French fries/tater tots
- Burritos/tacos (the children will NOT eat much fresh greens or cold cheese on these)
- Guacamole! (anything with avocados)
- Chips and Salsa
- Pizza (usually 3 pieces each, about 112 pieces total if serving entire choir/staff)
- Chicken fingers or nuggets (usually 6 pieces each)
- Shepherds pie/chicken pot pie/chicken & rice casserole/casseroles
- Lasagna/spaghetti/most any pasta
- BBQ (sandwiches or pulled) OR Sloppy joes/chili
- Vegetables: tomatoes, corn, green beans, collard greens (similar to a African dish called Sikumawiki)
- Soups: ex. Chicken Noodle soup, Minestone Soup, or Taco Soup
- Eggs(they may ask for onions/tomatoes in scrambled) Also love hard boiled!
- Hash browns
- Breakfast Casseroles
- FRUIT! Bananas, apples, grapes, oranges, mongos, watermelon are just a few of their favorite.
- Dinner left overs for reheating are great options
- Rice, with canned beans poured on top
- Boiled eggs
- Plain Potato chips and other chips
- Sandwiches but generally they don’t like cheese or condiments. PB&J is always a good option.
Notes: The children and chaperones all carry lunch bags, so you will not need to provide sacks. We often have access to microwaves during the day. If you can confirm this, it is great to have warm foods or leftovers as a nice break from sandwiches.
Meal for Entire Choir:
When serving a meal for the entire choir there will always be 28 people total-this includes 11 adults along with the 17 choir members.
For our wonderful Daraja adult chaperones, we like to request salad and veggies or other healthier choices as an option for meals, if available.
- Wake up, dress and have breakfast
- Pack a lunch for the children and chaperones (they will have lunch bags and will assist with making lunch)
- Drop off at the church in time to start morning school classes
- For Sunday concerts, we will have earlier arrival times than usual
- Lunch time! Usually this is 30-60 minutes, and Host families are welcome to join
- Back to school in the private classrooms
- Pick up your children and chaperone from church at the designated pick up time
- Back home for dinner and visiting
- Sometimes the children will have homework assignments
Note: The evening will be a great time of getting to know one another and learning about Africa and American cultures. The children will have a picture book with them to share, so please feel free to have photos of your family experiences to share with them too! They love to learn new games and be asked questions about home, food, God, family, and life! We encourage you to take advantage of all of the special time you have with the Daraja Family!
*If there is a concert in the evening, you will be picking them up after it is fully over. We thank you in advance for your patience on event nights as the timing for evening departure can be up to 30 minutes after it is over.
Whether this has been your first time experiencing Daraja Choir or you’re a returning Host Family, we know that the friendships you build are unique and eternal. Again, we want you to know that without you, we could not do what we do!
By the end of your short time together with children, our prayer is that your direct impact made on their lives will last an eternity, and vice versa. As you send off the children and the Tour Bus, you can expect to be filled with much joy and a feeling that you will see us again soon!
We would love to have you take photos, give hugs and most importantly, stay in touch with Daraja! Here are a few easy ways you can do just that:
1. Connect with us online by joining all of our owned channels:
2. Join the Daraja Family!
Go to https://darajachoir.org/family-membership/ to start receiving family benefits like:
- A handmade gift from your Daraja family OR a Daraja t-shirt Exclusive invite(s) to any Daraja-US retreat
- A signed frame from the choir kids with a group picture included
- Personal letters or videos of encouragement to and from your Daraja family
- Subscription to the Daraja Children’s Choir eNewsletter (including all updates on the choir, tour, schooling, discipleship growth)
- We would love to have you be a part of this loving family, and invite you to sign up today.
Thank you for serving as a Daraja Host Home.
We’ll see you on the road!