Mji Wa Neema is located on the grounds of the Catholic parish in Naivasha. There are 34 children, equally boys and girls, from ages 3 ½ to 17. The younger ones attend local elementary schools, while older ones attend boarding high schools. One very bright boy goes to a special school, while the others go to Archbishop Ndingi. In January 4 more (2 boys and 2 girls) will begin high school.
In the evening the children all gather after dinner to do their homework. The room is quiet, except for students working together and the older ones helping the younger ones. They give each other a great deal of support. On weekends they sometimes hold debates or on occasion the older ones will prepare a lesson to present to the group or they dance, give plays and recite poetry.
They work together to prepare food, under the supervision of the matron. They keep their rooms, clothes and the compound clean. When school is on vacation most go to visit extended families, aunts/uncles, grandparents, etc. These family members are not able to care for them year round, but every effort is made to retain the family connection. Some of the children are foundlings about whom nothing is known. Not knowing ones tribe is a big loss, as tribal culture is a big part of the life in Kenya.
The children will stay in Mju Wa Neema until they have completed at least high school. For the very bright ones, every effort will be made to send them on to post-secondary school, although funding is always a problem. For the moment, all the children who are of high school age have sponsors, but in a few years, a bigger number of them will reach that age and the challenge to find money to pay school fees will be great indeed.
In addition to school fees, money donated through Kenya Help has refurbished the home. A 12-foot wall has been built around it to ensure their safety, dorms have been replaced by 2-person rooms, new furniture for bedrooms and dining room provided. The kitchen has been rebuilt and the dining/social hall repainted. The children have received new clothes, school uniforms and shoes.
St Francis Xavier Catholic Parish, social work fund
The parish employs a certificated social worker, Anne Njeri. Her job includes responsibility for the children’s home, visiting extended families of the children, working with people who are HIV+, supervising support groups for HIV+ adults and for HIV + children. People come to her in their desperation, often having no money for food nor a place to stay. Anne often buys shoes and uniforms so children can attend school, helps single mothers find ways to support themselves, and is ever available just to listen. Because of the work of Judy Murphy, Kenya Help board member and retired social worker, funds have been raised through Kenya Help to support the work of the parish social worker.