Upendo is Ki-Swahili for ‘love’, and this is what is provided in large measure to the children here in Kilifi near Mombasa.
The project was started by women in the church who found starving children were coming to church on Sunday mornings. They soon realised they were coming, not for the worship, but for the cup of tea and biscuits following the service! As they befriended the children and heard their stories, they recognised that they would have to do something more for them. They started cooking meals on a rota system and feeding them each day, they went to local banks and businesses to beg for money or gifts in kind to feed ‘your children’, as they told the donors.
The project is now a thriving nursery and primary school with a majority of fee-paying children and a growing number of orphans and those living with HIV. Most of the sponsored children go to local government primary schools when they leave the nursery, but come to the project for breakfast, lunch and supper. However, as more funds reach the project, more children are able to attend the primary school at the project.
There are now paid staff and a qualified headmistress in the nursery and a headmaster in the primary, but the women who started it remain committed and involved, raising money by renting out plates and pans, chairs and tables; growing vegetables and even started a tree nursery. They are warm mothers and grandmothers to these children.
Karibuni sends a grant to support the feeding programme.