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Administrator Bishop George Mbaya

Secretary Faith Murungi

Senior Social Worker Lydia

About 150 miles north of Nairobi, Karibuni is supporting both a residential home in Kaaga for children who used to live on the streets and an outreach/feeding/teaching programme for children living in poverty with carers in Meru Town.

MERU CHILDREN’S HOME, KAAGA

Meru Children’s Home was opened in 1999 to care for children from the streets in Meru Town. Since then many children have passed through and successfully achieved qualifications in various vocational trades, with one boy going on to university and one of the girls, Maureen, training to be a nurse and achieving not just the highest marks for her year, but the highest marks ever scored at the hospital!

The home was built mainly by Kenya Children’s Foundation (KCF) with £40,000 from Karibuni Children. An excellent hostel has also been built by KCF, where there are rooms for 20 adolescent youngsters to live fairly independently. There is a kitchen, dining/common room plus computer room and library. The home has 13 members of staff including an administrator, social worker, housemothers, housefather, handymen, secretary, cooks, cowmen and watchmen. They have their own farm where the children and carers grow maize, bananas and vegetables, tend cows and run an income generating posho mill.

In line with Government policies, the Children’s Home is undergoing a huge transition from being a long-term residential home to a short-term rescue and rehabilitation centre. Children leave their families and go to the streets for a variety of reasons – a few because they don’t like being disciplined either at home or at school and initially independent life on the streets looks attractive – until the reality kicks in! Others leave when a parent re-marries and there are problems with the new step-parent or new siblings. Some run away from abject poverty, actual abuse and neglect, but a high proportion of children are orphans and feel they have no other option available. A new programme will be starting in 2014 designed so social workers from the reconstituted Children’s Home will befriend the children on the streets, listen to their stories and provide them with food. As the children learn to trust them the workers will assess them and their needs and then, if appropriate, work to get them reunited with their extended families. Some of the children will be returned home fairly quickly, others will need weeks or perhaps months of counselling and support. All of them will be followed up and monitored by the workers from the home and the families will be given practical support in the form of food, help with school fees and uniforms.

There is limited support from other external donors and little support locally. The premises are magnificent and the local people see this and think there must be lots of money available, feel their own children are far worse off than the former street children, and therefore see no need to support the home.

MERU TOWNSHIP PROGRAMME

This programme started as a feeding programme for children living day and night on the streets in Meru Town. Extended family members and foster carers were found to care for the children and food and clothes were provided to assist and support them. When free primary education was introduced the children were all able to go to school and continued to be fed at lunchtime. Uniforms and books were provided and the children thrived.

Several children have gone on to do vocational training, and this year the first boy from this project, Henry, qualified to go to university. His mother earns her living by producing the local illegal brew and his father and 9 older siblings all drink it. While still at primary school, Henry went to live at the project, sleeping in the storeroom and being cared for by the cook, James, and his wife, Francisca. He passed the exam at the end of primary school with a high score and went on to excel at secondary school. We look forward to hearing more stories like this from the Township Programme as the children here grow and mature.

Karibuni Children supports children in primary school and both day and boarding secondary schools; and provide salaries for 1 full-time and 1 part-time cook. We offer support for the carers, most of whom are HIV+ve, who have developed a shamba (market garden) – food for the pot and to sell. On Saturdays when there is a full programme of singing, games and education, the children and carers work on the shamba. The women started a small ‘merry-go-round’ finance scheme from which they can all borrow money for small business purposes. Through Karibuni charity gifts, several now have goats and others have chickens; and these numbers increase each year.