Kijiji Cha Upendo, Village of Love, begins with love for children. That is where we get our name. Love and care for children drives all the programmes of the organisation. Our goal is to see that children are raised with parental guidance, within loving families, and that they grow to become self sustaining, responsible adults.
The AIDS pandemic that has swept through sub-Saharan Africa has left more than 20 million children orphaned. On the streets of Kibera, Nairobi, at least 20,000 orphaned children are fending for themselves. They are very vulnerable to unscrupulous adults, drawn into crime, gangs, drugs and prostitution.
Left on the streets, their future is very bleak.
Some find their way into orphanages, which is a good short term solution. There they have food, shelter, and sometimes schooling, but when they reach a certain age, they will have to leave the orphanage and will be alone in the world. United Nations observers have often remarked that the best future for an orphaned child is to be found within a loving family, where the child can find again a place of belonging, for the long term, and where the children remain in the community that they know and that knows them. The conundrum has been how to give material support to individual families who take in orphans: to monitor how the funds are used and how the children are cared for.
And yet, material help is vital for families living in poverty. Many parents who love their children give up those children, because they cannot afford to feed them.
Families who care for orphans can face the same challenges. Sometimes orphaned children are taken into a family only to be abandoned when the family cannot bear the financial burden, thus suffering a second abandonment.
KIJIJI CHA UPENDO PROVIDES A SOLUTION
Kijiji Cha Upendo resolves the problem of providing material care for a family by bringing families that care for orphaned children into a registered organization, where use of funds and care of children is monitored: Volunteers do home visits to ensure that the children are well cared for and happy. The use of micro-loans is also monitored by volunteers. Kijiji Cha Upendo provides cheques for school fees, to supplement the parents’ efforts to keep their children in school. Volunteers visit schools to ensure that the children are attending, working hard and learning to the best of their ability.
Kijiji Cha Upendo thus provides a systematic way for orphaned children to receive material support without removing them from the place where they are loved!
THE DIFFERENCE KIJIJI CHA UPENDO MAKES
Kijiji Cha upendo currently embraces almost 300 children, some of whom have been part of the project since 2010, others of whom are only coming on board this year.
Micro-loans over the last 4 years have enabled many caregivers to quadruple their income, enabling them to put food on the table and purchase pencils, notebooks and uniforms to keep the children in school.
ONE FAMILY’S STORY
Josephine cares for nine children including three orphaned children. She has a heart full of love, but very limited material means. In 2011, she eked out a living selling firewood gathered in the forest, generating $1 a day. Most days her children went hungry. It was her obvious love and caring for all her children, the fairness with which she treated them all, orphaned or biological, that led the project administrator to include her in Village of Love. Josephine has taken full advantage of everything that Kijiji Cha Upendo has offered, from the micro-loan and livelihood skills programmes to women’s empowerment and counseling sessions. She is now able to sell charcoal, homemade soap and beautiful baskets that she makes from discarded plastic bags. Has this impacted her children? The two pictures on the left say it all!