One of the main aspects of this Jan Term class is working with a non-profit that helps women and children in Kenya. The group that I am a part of is partnered with Hope and Homes Recreation Center in Nanyuki. This non-profit provides street children and orphans from a slum outside of Nanyuki with a primary school education, a place to stay so they are off the streets, and a loving, nurturing community.
After being greeted by large number of students who are part of the Hope and Homes community, my team and I toured the campus. As we walked through partially constructed dormitories with a third of the necessary mattresses, a make-shift boys wash room, and an office patched together with cardboard and wrapping paper, I found myself completely overwhelmed. Not only do these children have much less than what is considered to be the bare minimum in most western countries, they appear to be truly happy and grateful for what they do have. I suppose that after being rescued from the streets of various slums around Nanyuki or being adopted into a family after being orphaned (http://kenyachildrenofhope.org/the-street-children-of-nairobi/), the resources that Hope and Homes offer are an incredible step up in many ways. The state of Hope and Homes’ campus is, however, unacceptable in my opinion.
The loving family that the founders, volunteers, teachers, and staff have created at Hope and Homes is amazing, but this community deserves a facility equally as amazing as the family they have fostered. In order to help provide Hope and Homes with what they will most benefit from, my group and I are creating a website for their organization. Currently, Hope and Homes Recreation Center, or HHRC, has no online profile and all the attention they receive is initiated through word of mouth. We are hoping that creating a website will not only help the organization appear more official and garner more attention for it, but that it will also help bring in more donations, which is what HHRC survives on.
In order to create this website, my team and I interviewed the teachers, staff, and some alumni at Hope and Homes and took their pictures. As we talked to several of these people, we learned more about the lives of the young people who go to school and live at Hope and Homes. The common risks for these children include sexual, physical, and drug abuse, dropping out of school, returning to the streets, child labor, and police brutality. One of the founders of Hope and Homes who is also a social worker informed us that here in Kenya it is common for girls as young as five to be raped and for girls as young as 11 to be married off. Additionally, some young women become prostitutes to survive. Girls may become pregnant at a young age and if they have lived through female genital mutilation (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4qadz-es0E) are likely to have extreme difficulty giving birth. Two of the male alumni informed us that it is common for street children to be abused and even whipped or beaten to death by the police. It is hard to believe that some of the sweet children who greeted us with their energetic singing and dancing have experienced such terrible injustices and abuse. The good news is that organizations like Hope and Homes are working to take kids off and keep them off the street and bring them into a loving environment. It is my team’s goal to grow Hope and Homes’ visibility and subsequently increase the amount of donations they receive.
Although we cannot do everything we want to do for Hope and Homes, we will do what we can with what we have. As Desmond Tutu said, “do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”