Good Samaritan Children’s Home and Rehabilitation Centre is located in the crowded and polluted Mathare slums. As many as 500,000 people live in Mathare, informal settlements just outside the city centre of Nairobi, with no sanitation facilities and limited electricity and clean water. These urban slums are plagued by disease, crime, violence and despair. Many of those living in the slums are children. For these young people the dream of an education is the only way out of poverty and the road to a better life.
Good Samaritan currently provides housing, food and pre-school education to as many as 200 children who have been orphaned by AIDS or abandoned because their families could no longer feed and care for them. Others were living in the street before being rescued. Now many of these children are going to primary and secondary school.
ACOHF has provided Good Samaritan Children’s Home in Mathare with school fees, food, medicine, facilities and equipment and other critical needs over the last 10 years. This aid also includes stabilizing the tin and wooden structure of the original building with steel beams and buying a truck that now serves as ongoing school transport, ambulance for medical emergencies, and delivery for food and supplies.
Africa Circle of Hope Foundation helps support three staff positions at Good Samaritan: a cook, a social worker and a matron. Mercy, the founder and director of Good Samaritan, also has a small group of community volunteers. Mercy and her staff have deep faith and personal commitment, even as they struggle each day to find the essential resources to feed, clothe and educate these orphaned and abandoned children.
ACOHF continues to build a circle of support to fund this effort. The need is great and every day more hurt and hungry children are brought to Good Samaritan. Join our Circle of Hope to help these orphans survive and go to school. You can give these orphaned and abandoned young people a chance for a better life out of the crowded and dangerous slums.
Education is the way out of poverty and the slums.
The orphaned and abandoned children living at Good Samaritan Children’s Home in the crowded and polluted slums of Nairobi, Kenya, have a common history. Their parents died from AIDS or were financially, physically or emotionally unable to care for their children. Before coming to Good Samaritan many of these children were staying with distant relatives, living in a child-headed household sustained by an older sibling, or barely surviving as street kids.
These orphans have experienced more violence, abuse, and loss than most people can imagine. Yet they have a strong faith and are amazingly hopeful about the future and genuinely thankful for the opportunity to continue their education.
Education for these at-risk youth is not only a dream come true, but also an opportunity for healing and renewal. As one of our students explained, “To keep my mind focused on school makes me forget the painful times before.”
Education for Girls
ACOHF is especially committed to supporting education for girls and getting them out of the slums where rape and violence are common. Without an education these girls are often forced into early marriage and pregnancy or they become housemaids who are often subject to abuse. Education provides these girls with awareness of opportunities, builds self-esteem, and develops knowledge and life skills.
Education for Life
At age 18 the orphans age out of the Good Samaritan Children’s Home. If they do not have a good secondary school education they are likely to end up living in the streets with no skills and no hope. Secondary school education and vocational training give them a chance for a better life.
$60 for one school uniform (shirt, skirt/pant, sweater, underwear, socks, and shoes)
$50 for personal hygiene (soap, toothpaste, show polish, Vaseline, sanetary pads, etc.)
$50 for bedding and storage (mattress, blankets, sheets, bucket, metal storage box)
$100 for school supplies (books, backpack, paper, pens, notebooks, etc.)
$200 for school fees for one student (lodging, administrative and academic fees)
$400 for full support of one student for one year of secondary school
Help us get these at-risk kids out of the slums and into school with your contribution to the Orphans Education Fund.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Your contribution to the Orphans Education Fund provides life-changing support for children from the Good Samaritan Children’s Home in the Mathare slums. You can give hope to these orphans for a better future with a secondary school education.
Rubate Secondary School –A Peaceful Place for Learning
ACOHF funds approximately 40 students at Rubate Secondary School each year. We begin supporting students in Form 1 and continue through Form 4 and high school graduation.
After enduring the crowded, polluted and dangerous environment in Nairobi’s urban slums, students appreciate the peaceful atmosphere of this rural area near Mt. Kenya. They describe it as having “good air and enough space” and “a calm environment for studying.”
Rubate secondary boarding school in Chuka, Kenya, was established in 1993 with support from the local community. The school has well-maintained classrooms, a science laboratory, dorm rooms, dining hall and administrative block. Rubate was ranked #2 in the county based on mean scores from the national exam. Current student population is more than 320 students. The structured curriculum includes Math, English, Kiswahili, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Geography, Agriculture, Business Studies and History.
UPDATE: Africa Circle of Hope is currently working with the principal and teachers at Rubate School to establish a library and a basic computer lab for students. You can contribute to this project to help buy books and other resources.
Comments from Our Secondary Students
“I recall it was on a Tuesday when I found that I would be going to school. Truly that was a day worth recalling for my entire life. There was joy in my heart. I was going to high school.”
I found that my life has started a small space. Before I was sponsored I had no hope for my future. Then we were admitted to Rubate High School where I saw my future in my own eyes in the school.”
“I thank God for just giving me a chance to learn. I am going to make it in life. I say thanks because if not you now I could be a street child. I promise to work hard and be a role model to younger ones. I won’t let you down. I know that I will achieve my dreams no matter what I have gone through.”
ACOHF UNIVERSITY SCHOLARSHIPS
Getting a degree from a university is an impossible dream for the orphans from Good Samaritan. ACOHF has expanded our secondary school program to include two university scholarships for the best students among those we have supported.
- Three of our scholarship students have graduated from Catholic University of Eastern Africa in Nairobi with degrees in Social Work, Computer Science, and Accounting.
- We are currently supporting a Nursing student at Regina Pacis University College and a Business student at the University of Nairobi.
Contributions for the ACOHF scholarship program allow one of the top female students and one the top male Good Samaritan students that we have supported in high school to continue their education to earn a university degree.
Higher education opens up a whole new world for these young people and transforms their life and their future. It also provides an opportunity for them to make a positive contribution to their community. One of our first scholarship students described a new understanding. “I used to blame others for my problems and now I take responsibility and look for solutions and how I can help solve problems.” One of the conditions of the ACOHF university scholarship is that the graduates must give back in service to help others in their community.
Donate to help these courageous young people move out of poverty, reach their dreams and contribute to a better world for everyone.
Our focused community health program works at a local level assessing needs, providing basic care, developing resources and collaborating with regional organizations to improve the overall health of those in underserved communities, especially in urban slums and remote rural areas.
A basic mental health program will provide essential training for nurses, teachers, social workers and caregivers to better understand and respond to children, adolescents and young adults who have experienced neglect, and who have experienced and/or witnessed physical and emotional trauma. Many of the orphans have known great loss, and have been exposed to significant interpersonal and community violence and abuse before being rescued. Exposure to trauma can have devastating effects on a child’s physiology, emotion, ability to think, learn and concentrate, impulse control, self-image and relationships with others. This can negatively affect attention and performance in school as well as socialization and overall health and well-being.
Child trauma training and relevant resource materials can be offered to help teachers, nurses and caregiving systems to understand more about the impact of trauma on child development and how to respond to children’s needs. Certified professionals may also conduct screenings to identify those who may be at risk for mental health issues.
UPDATE: The surrounding physical environment impacts the health of this community. Sanitation is a major threat to the health of the children at Good Samaritan in the Mathare slums. An open sewer runs in front of the compound and the children sometimes play near or in the contaminated water. ACOHF is helping to finance new culverts in this immediate area to protect the children from these dangerous and unsanitary conditions.
In June 2013 ACOHF provided support for a community health team from Loyola University Chicago Nursing School , Chiro One Wellness Centers in Chicago, and Regina Pacis University College Nursing School in Nairobi to provide some initial assessment and medical health care for orphans in the Mathare slums. The most common ailments found in these children were skin diseases, fungal infections, worms and parasites. The team took in medical supplies and provided basic treatment to these children. A chiropractor also assessed and adjusted the children as needed for disorders of the musculoskeletal system, which affect general health with back pain, neck pain, pain in the joints of the arms or legs, and headaches.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
A community health team from Chicago will be returning to Kenya in 2014 to provide health assessment and basic care to the children at Good Samaritan in the Mathare slums and in rural Meru. This team will include Dr. Katrina Ordonez, chiropractor and nutritionist, and Dr. Nicole St. Jean, child psychologist. Click here to support the 2014 medical team.
Nutrition is essential to health and well-being. Feeding as many as 200 hungry children at Good Samaritan is a continuing challenge. Children need a balanced diet with adequate protein and enough nutritional value for normal growth and development. Children at Good Samaritan have simple meals of ugali (cornmeal mush) or githeri (corn and beans). They sometimes enjoy chapati (flatbread) on Sunday. Meat or fruit is a rare treat for holidays or special occasions. ACOHF helps to provide some flour, rice, beans, maize (corn), cooking oil and other essential food supplies. We also support a cook who makes three meals a day for the children at Good Samaritan.
Adults who are HIV+ also need proper nutrition to sustain themselves and their children. ACOHF provides regular nutrition supplements to the Meru Association of Positive People and families impacted by AIDS. This assistance includes beans, rice, corn, flour, cooking oil, and tea. We also help fund meals for the members of this AIDS support group at their biweekly meetings at Thiiri Centre in Meru. Multivitamins are also distributed as part of this program.
Medical support may include assessment of the physical and emotional status of each child, basictreatment, chiropractic adjustment, medical supplies, transportation to the hospital, nutritional training, specialized medical workshops and seminars for nurses, and other resources and services as required.
In June 2013 the ACOHF community health team donated medical supplies, training materials, medical equipment, resource books and scrubs to faculty and students at Regina Pacis University College Nursing School in Nairobi.
A basic mental health program will provide essential training for nurses, teachers, social workers, and caregivers to better understand and respond to children or young adults who have experienced neglect and physical and emotional trauma. Many of the orphans have known great loss, and have been exposed to significant violence and abuse before being rescued. Because trauma impacts emotional health as well as the way the brain understands information, trauma can negatively affect attention and performance in school as well as socialization and overall health and well-being.
Child trauma training and relevant resource materials help teachers, nurses and caregiver systems to understand more about the psychology of trauma and to manage and support learning in a classroom or in other contexts from a trauma-informed approach. Certified professionals also conduct screenings to identify those who may be at risk for mental health issues.
Africa Circle of Hope Foundation is committed to helping women who are living in poverty to gain the knowledge, skills and resources needed to earn an adequate income to help support their family and pay for food and school fees. ACOHF has worked with women’s groups in Kenya and Tanzania. Current programs are in rural Kenya.
Thiiri Center for Music, Culture and Community Development in Meru, Kenya, has grown from one building into a regional center for conferences, business meetings, youth programs, women’s entrepreneurship, and artistic and cultural events. In the Meru language Thiiri means “peace.” Thiiri Center was established to serve the community as a shared resource for education, culture, recreation and economic development. Thiiri has a large auditorium, meeting rooms, classrooms, conference support, community technology center, cultural village, restaurant, cabins, and recreational facilities.
A longtime partner with Africa Circle of Hope, Thiiri Center was founded by Bishop Lawi Imathiu and his wife Florence as a resource for the entire community, especially the young people. Under their leadership Thiiri Centre continues to grow and meet the diverse needs of the community.
ACOHF has been working with Thiiri Center for many years. Some of our collaborative projects and partnerships include: creating a Community Technology Centre, initiating a Kids Camp for local youth, supporting women’s entrepreneurship training and resources, rural women’s agricultural development, sustainable technology, cultural arts workshops, music recording studio, and AIDS nutrition and support groups. These programs are now a sustainable component of Thiiri programming and a significant part of its initial development.
- Community Technology Center
The Community Technology Center(CTC) at Thiiri was established in 2007 by ACOHF in partnership with Microsoft. Three consultants from Microsoft helped set up the CTC and coordinated several days of training for Meru women’s groups, school teachers and business leaders. Microsoft also donated software, computers, printers and other equipment for the facility. Thiiri established the first community technology center in this rural area. More than 800 people attended the dedication ceremony. The center offers free access to community members and students. The CTC is now self-sustaining with minimal computer course fees and with an ongoing printing, design and research services business.
- Kids Camp
The Kids Camp at Thiiri Center, initially supported by ACOHF, has become an ongoing component of educational, cultural and artistic events. The two-day camp for local youth, held several times each year, includes computer training, music lessons, cultural understanding, and personal development. ACOHF has supported youth workshops at Thiiri Center in music, poetry and drama. Professional singers, actors, musicians and poets from Nairobi come to Meru to train and mentor young local talent. ACOHF has also given funds to build a small music recording studio in one of the rooms at Thiiri.
- AIDS Support Group
Many local organizations and service groups regularly meet at Thiiri Center. ACOHF continues to support the members of the Meru Association of Positive People (MAPP), which provides social and emotional support and nurtures entrepreneurship initiatives for HIV+ women and those living with AIDS. The women are currently making and selling soap and sewing craft items. ACOHF supports lunch and transportation for their regular meetings at Thiiri and the monthly distribution of vitamins and nutritious food including maize, rice, beans and cooking oil for these families.
MAKENA TEXILE WORKSHOP (MERU, KENYA)
The Makena Textile Workshop was started in 1979 when a group of women from churches in Meru, Kenya, joined together in an entrepreneurial business initiative to improve their quality of life, support their children, and contribute to the local economy in this poor rural area.
The group of 21 women members/owners have continued the business and invested toward the purchase of the warehouse shed where they work. When we first met with them in 2007 they were struggling after years of limited sales and often no salary.
ACOHF provided funds for new equipment, boilers and an industrial sewing machine, entrepreneurship training and marketing strategies that increased sales and allowed the members to take a salary. “You have given us hope,” the women said. “This year we had a Christmas.”
ACOHF has been working in partnership with the women at Makena Textile Workshop in Meru for more than seven years to help them sell their rugs and fabric and develop new products. The women have enhanced their tie-dyed products and also innovated with different types of fabrics, multicolored designs and natural dyes. They continue to make distinctive household items from these fabrics including tablecloths, napkins, placemats and drapes.
In 2013 these artisans have for the first time created intricate patterns of color on silk scarves. This initiative offers some opportunities for new partnerships and distinctive one-of-a-kind artistic products. The women have also placed their products in home goods stores in Nairobi and have delivered some limited customized work for national and international customers.
- Entrepreneurship Training
ACOHF has supported entrepreneurship training not only for the women at Makena Textile Workshop and other cooperatives in rural Meru but also 38 women from the Good Samaritan Mothers group in the Mathare slums of Nairobi. Some of these women had a fruit or vegetable stand, sewed school uniforms, cooked food or had some initiative to gain income. Others wanted to start a small business. The Dean of the Faculty of Commerce at Catholic University of Eastern Africa facilitated monthly educational sessions for these women at CUEA over an entire year.
These workshop classes covered basic business operations, budgets, pricing, communication, marketing strategy and customer service. The CUEA Vice Chancellor spoke at the final graduation ceremony and awarded certificates. The graduates expressed their appreciation and determination: “We can be a model for others. We can work together to improve the quality of life in Mathare.”
RURAL AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT
Frequent food shortages and high prices make food security critical to nutrition and health in rural areas where many people are living below the poverty level. This ACOHF program provided women with quality seedlings and the farming skills to cultivate small vegetable gardens and banana groves, increase their supply of nutritious fresh food, provide some income from the sale of vegetables and fruit, and empower them to contribute to economic development in the area.
- Small-Scale Farming
The initial project in Meru, Kenya included women from the Mugeene Women’s Entrepreneurship Group, the Kithoka Young Mothers Group and Meru Association of Positive People. Many of these women were widows and single mothers with several children. ACOHF provided funding for seedlings, fertilizer, insecticide, hose pipes, sprinklers and basic agricultural training for these groups. The women farmed land from a half-acre to two acres, which they either owned or rented.
ACOHF also supported a rural development program in Maua, Tanzania including five women’s groups in the region. Related activities included a seedling program, a poultry project and construction of a kitchen for local schools. The members sold produce to regional markets and to their neighbors.
The banana project in Meru was most successful. ACOHF provided 10 small banana plants to each of the members of the women’s cooperatives. These banana plants are continuing to yield bunches of bananas, which the women can sell for $15 to $20 each. The group members are also working with a farm distribution network to increase their market reach. This initial investment provides the women with an income for many years to come. These rural agricultural development projects are now sustainable.
- Appropriate Technology for Conservation
Appropriate and sustainable technology in the Meru area must relate not only to the farming economy and needs for food security, but also to the conservation of environmental resources. One major concern is the loss of indigenous forests as more trees are chopped for firewood.
Greater efficiency in planting and cultivating crops, cooking techniques, and food processing and preservation is essential. Local coordinators researched different agricultural methods, field tested the technology with local women, and developed partnerships for productive development. The major focus of this ACOHF project has been in three areas: Efficient Ovens, Food Preservation and Drip Irrigation.
To develop efficient ovens, project leaders collaborated with engineers and food scientists at Meru University College of Science and Technology to develop an effective design to use less fuel. Solar oven models made of cardboard and foil were too flimsy for long-term use. Metal and wood models proved to be more expensive, bulky and not as efficient. This project group found a possible option with portable clay ovens that use 10% of the fuel of traditional ovens. The women constructed a “hot basket” that keeps hot foods at an even temperature for slow continued cooking. Classes also demonstrated the most appropriate cooking methods.
Food preservation allows women to use the abundance of seasonal fruits in the Mt. Kenya region. Wood and mesh stacked drying racks for fruits such as papaya and mango were built and distributed to women in the community. Members of the women’s groups also attended training
workshops about proper techniques for food processing and preservation. Their next step is to take the dried fruits, mix them with locally grown macadamia nuts, and package them for sale.
The current drip irrigation project builds on our successful Rural Women’s Agricultural Development program. As part of sustainable technology in rural farming, the project provides drip irrigation systems, which greatly conserve water and multiply the amount of produce that can be grown on a piece of land. Bucket systems can be used on smaller plots. People in the community are taught how to use this drip irrigation system to improve their crops and sustain their yield in dry weather.