Kenya: A day well spent at the Jehovah Jireh’s Children Home
31 October 2013

A JRS staff member (right in black cap) is joined by some beneficiaries of the JRS Nairobi scholarship scheme in doing laundry during a community service visit to Jehovah Jireh Children's Home in Nairobi. (Faith Kimunya/JRS).
The beneficiaries of these scholarships in return are expected to be involved in community service and other activities that are usually planned for during the school holidays.
Nairobi, 31 October 2013 - Part of the mandate of the Education department of Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Nairobi Urban Project is to provide scholarships to individuals, mainly refugees, who want to pursue a secondary school education. The beneficiaries of these scholarships in return are expected to be involved in community service and other activities that are usually planned for during the school holidays. Despite the August 2013 holidays being cut short due to a teachers strike in Kenya that had preceded it, we were able to carry out a community service activity in a children’s home located in Mihango (past Kayole area of Nairobi) called the Jehovah Jireh Children’s home.

Brief history of the Children’s home. The late Anglican Archbishop, Rt. Rev. Manasses Kuria in 2000, started Jehovah Jireh Children’s home to be a place where children who were orphaned, physically and psychologically abused, neglected, with emotional problems, and suffered domestic violence would call home. The home has continually offered residential and educational support to the children while also catering for all their basic needs. The Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) Diocese of Nairobi took over the home in 2009 from the estate of the late Archbishop Manasses Kuria. It is currently being managed by a committee appointed by the Bishop of Nairobi diocese, Rt. Rev. Joel Waweru.

Currently, the home has a total number of 63 children, 29 boys and 34 girls. The age range of these children is from six to eighteen years. Thirty-six children are in primary school, twenty-six children are in secondary school, and one child is in college. The home depends on donations from well-wishers and the Diocese of Nairobi to finance its operations. The money gathered from the Diocese through the contributions made by various Churches pays the school fees of these children. However, the home has been facing consistent financial challenges since the donations from the individual well-wishers and the Church are not adequate.

Journey to Mihango. Since the JRS supported students reside in different parts of Nairobi, we designated three different pick-up points for them, which were JRS offices in Lavington, the Divine Word Church in Kayole, and outside the Naivas Supermarket in Kasarani. As soon as all the students had arrived at their pick-up points, we all left for the home, which is located near a quarry in Mihango.

On arrival at the home, we were all ushered into a hall and welcomed by a gentleman who is referred to as “Guka” (means grandfather) by the children and staff who reside at the home. The old man then called upon some of the young girls and boys at the home to lead us in a short session of praise and worship as we waited for the arrival of the home manager. Some of our students also joined them in leading the praise and worship session which turned out to be ecumenical and interreligious given the varied religious backgrounds of our students.

After the praise and worship session, Guka gave us a brief history and background of the home. He then gave us an opportunity to introduce ourselves whereby my two colleagues, Joseph, Paul and I briefly introduced students and gave a summary of what JRS does. By the time we were done with the introductions, the home manager, Florence, had arrived. She welcomed us to the home and introduced the remaining staff members. She told us to feel at home and encouraged both the JRS students and the children at the home to get to know each other.

Working and socialising between students and children at the Home. The young men, both JRS students and those who reside at the home, worked together to move some building materials to a spot in the compound. These materials will be used in the construction of bathrooms for both the boys and girls at the home. The young women were able to help out in the kitchen. At the same time, other students were socialising and bonding with the children of the home, who gladly showed them around the home. They also took them outside to show them the nearby quarry and its environs. It was amazing seeing them share experiences and genuinely show interest in getting to know each other.

We then requested Florence to ask the young children to bring out their dirty clothes so that we could wash them. The JRS students organized themselves whereby some would fetch the water, others would wash the clothes, some would rinse them, while others would hang the clean clothes on the lines. Though this task was mainly carried out by the JRS female students, some of the young men volunteered to help. Florence was surprised and impressed at the eagerness and willingness of the JRS students in washing the younger children's clothes. When the students were done, we moved to the hall so that we could wind up on our visit.

At the hall, some students were given the opportunity to share on their experience and they even introduced some of the friends they had made. Additionally, some of the children at the home were given the chance to talk about the experience of having visitors in the home. Some students then handed over food donations (maize flour, rice, and sugar) we had carried to give the home. Florence talked briefly and in summary she said, “Thank you so much for the visit and the food donation. May God bless you for all that you have done. It is important for us not to take the peace that we enjoy in Kenya for granted.” We then had a closing prayer before the students said their goodbyes and we left for home. The students had a wonderful time at the home and indeed it was a day well spent. 

By Faith Kimunya, Education Assistant, JRS Nairobi Urban Project

In Nairobi, JRS provides a range of services to new arrivals, asylum seekers and refugees in the most vulnerable circumstances. These services include emergency food and medical assistance, assistance with rent payment, provision of basic non-food items, support for income generation activities, pastoral and psychosocial accompaniment, and educational scholarships for the children of vulnerable refugees. In addition, JRS runs the Mikono Shop based at the Nairobi office, which provides an outlet for refugees to sell and market their handicrafts.