Project Leader Mrs Grace Anzazi
Upendo is Ki-Swahili for ‘love’, and this is what is provided in large measure to the children at this project 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 women started a nursery for these children and volunteered to teach them every day. 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.
There are now paid teachers and cooks and a qualified headmistress, but the women who started it continue to volunteer remaining committed and involved, raising money by renting out plates and pans, chairs and tables; and growing vegetables. They are warm mothers and grandmothers to these children.
2014 was a difficult year for them because the area has suffered a prolonged drought and also due to increasing instability and lack of security in the coastal area of Kenya. The whole area is now included in the area the British Government advises against travelling to because of increased threats from Al Shaabab.