Kenya is home to over 34 million people, almost half of whom are aged under 15 years. Tragically, due to persistently high mortality rates among young adults, many children are left orphaned and try to survive by living on the streets with little access to basic human rights such as education.
The Kenyan project began in 2005 when the HoH committee visited an orphanage in Nairobi whose living conditions were amongst the most deplorable witnessed in Africa. 280 children were jammed into a five-bedroom house under the management of a Kenyan woman named Mary, whose initial goodwill to help some street children had amassed to something beyond her control and resources.
In 2006, HoH sent a team of 15 fantastic volunteers who worked exceptionally hard to try and improve the living conditions of these children. Over two months, all children underwent health checks (and were treated at appropriate facilities where needed), a library was created, donated goods were ordered into a storeroom, nutritious menus were devised with the cooks and simple items such as cooking utensils, bowls, spoons and water filtering systems were put in place. Skills such as basket weaving were taught through a partnership with the local Red Cross organisation. And most importantly, the children – and Hands of Help volunteers – formed some fantastic friendships.
However, despite our best efforts, more and more street children continued to arrive in Mary’s home. Due to the over-crowded living conditions, in May 2007 the Kenyan government ordered the facility to be closed. Hands of Help maintained their commitment to these children by working with an American donor, Paul Miller, and his organisation African Kids in Need (AKIN). to establish and fund a Child Sponsorship Program to allow children formerly at the Orphanage to have continued access to education.
To date, Hands of Help have sponsored dozens of these children and a selection of their profiles, put together by our full-time in-country Kenyan staff, can be viewed to the right. These staff manage the sponsorship programme on a day-to-day basis, as well as monitoring the sponsor childrens' well-being while at boarding school during the term and facilitate their return home each school vacation. The children also take part in annual ‘retreats’, where they bond with old friends in a Summer Camp style break.
Hands of Help and AKIN also work with those children whose educational attainment does not facilitate entry to secondary school by providing training in their chosen vocation - such as carpentry, hairdressing and other apprenticeships.
Once these children graduate from secondary school, our support does not stop there. We are thrilled to announce that thanks to the ongoing generous contribution of our donors, in 2015 we will launch a new microfinancing programme to support these children to establish their own businesses upon completion of their apprenticeships; while a selection of students who are eligible for tertiary studies will continue to be supported in their endeavours.
To view the details of some of Hands of Help's sponsor children, please click on their images.