Karibuni Children is a UK-based charity which focuses on transforming young Kenyan lives. The Charity was founded in 1995 and is registered with the UK Charities Commission (number 1044872).
What we do
Put simply, we believe in the transformational power of education. Our objective is to help Kenyan children from some of the poorest backgrounds, to fulfil their potential and release themselves from the cycle of poverty. At any one time, we are supporting around 700 children living in slum communities across Kenya, who may not otherwise receive an education, to go to school. In addition to providing financial support to enable children to access quality education, we work to reduce other barriers that may prevent those living below the poverty line from maximising their educational potential. This includes working with communities to provide nutritious meals, uniforms and shoes, learning equipment and feminine hygiene products.
We also support initiatives focused on the empowerment of the wider family unit and work with our partners on infrastructure development projects to support these, such as garment workshops and other spaces for small
businesses to operate from. These have the potential to transform the local community and deliver increased self-sufficiency.
How we operate
We partner with professionally run projects in Kenya, run by Kenyans. Some are nursery or primary schools, and some are wider community-based organisations. Each has its own independent Board who employ a dedicated project manager / social worker, whose salary we fund. The projects are geographically dispersed across Kenya but all are in deprived areas, with the children selected from the local slum community. The process for identification of candidates for sponsorship is set by each local board, but the selection criteria must be consistent with our ‘poorest of the poor’ philosophy, with no bias for gender, faith, tribe, or academic potential.
We have a strong focus on governance and risk management, exercising tight control over how donor funds sent to Kenya are spent. For each major project we will agree an itemised annual budget, which sets out the specific items that we will fund, and funds will be released 3-4 times each year in line with the academic terms; this is reconciled on a regular basis.
Whilst we adopt high standards of control, compassion and empathy are embedded firmly into our core values. We may be a relatively small charity, but that gives us advantages. We are close to the projects we partner, with short lines of communication. This allows us to respond quickly to urgent situations and requests impacting the welfare of the children who we support.
Notwithstanding this strong focus on governance and control, we have low overheads, with much of the work in the UK done by professionally qualified trustees and volunteers, with backgrounds in education, nursing, finance and risk management, who give of their time for free. This ensures that nearly 85% of expenditure is spent in Kenya on supporting Karibuni sponsored children.
Each year, a small group of trustees visit the major projects in Kenya in order to meet with key project partners, the families of newly sponsored children and, most satisfying of all, the young people who have recently completed their education. As part of our drive to minimise central overheads, trustees and volunteers personally cover the costs of their travel, accommodation, and meals. These Kenyan based progress reviews are a valuable part of our portfolio of governance arrangements, helping to ensure that our supporters’ money is used efficiently and as intended.
In 1990, Joy and Bill Murphy, accompanied by their teenage daughter Corinne, took part in a 7-month ministerial exchange with a Kenyan Methodist Minister in Nairobi. Corinne became involved by working in the local church pre-school nursery and was shocked by the number of children, of all ages, living on the streets of Nairobi. The lasting impression these children made on her, came to the front of her mind as she recovered from a severe head injury sustained in a car crash with her parents.
Corinne paid all her money at that time into the bank, and the manager agreed to open an account for her charity with £2.56! After much persuasion, her parents supported her, and Karibuni Children was registered in the UK as a charity, with Bill as Chair and Joy and Corinne as Trustees. The initial fundraiser was a sponsored bike ride from Edinburgh to London where she raised £13,500 – enough to start sending money to Kenya for the support of one project and a part-time social worker/teacher to work there.
Whilst Corinne stepped down as a Trustee in 2019, Karibuni Children has continued to grow and evolve with the addition of further Trustees from a variety of professional backgrounds.
Whilst a number of Karibuni’s longstanding supporters were recruited through Joy and Bill’s connections with the Methodist Church, Karibuni Children is not itself a faith-based charity. The Charity’s donor base has expanded into a variety of communities, and the children that we support will come from a variety of different faiths, or indeed, none.