, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 13 – Many people would easily take for granted the positive things that life has offered like a family, an education and a place to call home.
But there are millions of children in Kenya who are abandoned, orphaned and vulnerable.
“My mum told me that I was only three weeks old when my dad killed himself and my mum remarried. I did not get along with my step dad, so my mum decided to bring me here (Children’s Garden Home),” Fanice Mwangu, a destitute child narrates.
“Before I came here, my parents divorced, we were three but my mother was pregnant with our fourth born brother and we went to live with our grandmother before we were all brought here,” Stanley Kituli, another needy child recounts.
Fanice and Stanley came to the Children’s Garden home at 11 and eight years respectively. They are among 300 needy children housed and educated at this home located in Nairobi’s Dagoretti area.
“Some of the children come here through the District Children’s Office. Whenever they have a child who needs protection, they bring them here either on temporal or permanent basis,” explains Moses Ndung’u the founder of the children’s home.
“We get other children through the community and others from the streets,” he goes on to say.
Founded ten years ago, the home offers residential care to 160 children. Another 140 come from neighbouring Kawangware and Kangemi slums as day scholars.
“After they come, we then do the follow up. If they are very poor or do not have a family at all, we go through a court process known as committal so that they can stay here. And for those who do not have parents, they must have the death certificate,” Mr Ndung’u says adding that those who have parents but are vulnerable at home are usually recommended by the District Children’s Officer or the Chief.
The home offers non formal education to the children with classes from nursery to form two.
“Getting sponsors for the high school students is not easy,” Mr Ndung’u says.
However the school is faced with a myriad of challenges like inadequate text books, lack of laboratories and qualified teachers. The teachers here work as volunteers.
“If Kenyans assisted this secondary school, it can be just like other schools because these are bright children who don’t have that access to school fees,” he says.
Although there are Free Primary Education and Free Tuition Secondary Education Programmes, many destitute children in the country still lack the opportunity to go to formal schools due to lack of other basic requirements like school uniform and books.
“Many people think that being in a children’s home, you cannot succeed but to me, life is just a matter of self belief because when I did my KCPE last year, I didn’t imagine I could get 352 marks(out of a possible 500),” says Stanley who wants to become an aeronautical engineer in future.
Global Peace Connect is an initiative that promotes peace and development through building a culture of service.
The initiative has brought together 35 volunteers both local and international to assist in building a facility dubbed the Dream Catcher Library at the Children’s Garden Home.
“We are just getting books donated, any manner of books so that the children have a chance to read. As it is now we have quite a bit of books that are available for the kids,” Operations and Marketing Manager Elaine Wacuka Hurt explains.
At least 15 of the volunteers come from the American university.
“We are painting the school and have created walls between the classrooms to stop destruction when they are learning and generally spending time with them and it feels really great to just make those small connections with these kids and share stories,” says Kate Peters an American volunteer.
“I’m a mother myself so I would feel really bad if my son was not being taken care of if I was not there. There is something fulfilling about doing something without having to be paid for it and just seeing the happiness of the children and the way they like to interact with you because they just want to be loved,” says Elizabeth Nyakwea another volunteer and a student at Kenyatta University.
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