I had the pleasure of visiting Kenya two months ago for a month, destination Nakuru. I was so moved by the plight of undomiciled children that I couldn’t help but want to do something about it. My second mission in Kenya was to spread awareness about the disabled, who are often isolated from the rest of society and are greatly misunderstood or mistreated by those who see them as less capable than they really are.
The first step was researching undomiciled children in Kenya. This brought me to a business that was feeding them in the mornings called Mbogo’s Quality Farm Products. Mbogo’s Quality Farm Products works with orphaned, vulnerable, and undomiciled children by giving them breakfast to start their day. I made the decision then to fly to Kenya and investigate and help where I can.
The trip to Nakuru
In Nairobi, I was picked up at 1 am by David W., his daughter Sally, and Issa M. It was a four-hour drive to Nakuru, on winding roads that gave us some spectacular views of Mount Kenya and Mt. Kilimanjaro along with lots of dust, goats, and cows on the road. I even saw some baboons, zebra, and antelope alongside the road. Once in Nakuru, we drove for about an hour until we arrived at our first destination. The home of one of my hosts, where brunch was being served. Lillian, the mother of Sally and the wife of David, was preparing brunch for me, which consisted of ugali and eggs scrambled with onions and tomatoes. Brunch is not served in most Kenyan homes, so it was a real treat! After eating, we headed out to where I was to stay. The next day I walked to the shop of Mbogo’s Quality Farm Products to see where the porridge the children ate in the morning was made. We later headed out on foot to visit some children who lived nearby and others who lived further away. There are thousands of undomiciled children in Kenya because their parents have either died or abandoned them due to poverty or AIDS, so they live alone, begging, or stealing food from others just to survive.
Registering as a Community-Based Organization
The next two weeks were spent consolidating efforts with others with a name and purpose, and we came up with the name Heart Cares. Eleven others and I have joined forces to create Heart Cares, now registered as a community-based organization (CBO), meaning that it relies on donations from both individuals and organizations similar to UNICEF to run programs such as education classes and counseling sessions, vocational training, and food distribution. CBOs are significant parts of Kenyan culture because they enable people from all walks of life to join forces for good causes.
Meeting at Malaika Initiative for People with Disability
The Malaika Initiative for People with Disability, Inc. is a public charity located in Nakuru City, Kenya, dedicated to empowering persons with disabilities as equal citizens through advocacy, education, access, and development of resources. I had been speaking with their team via email before my trip, but I was excited to meet them in person and see how they were doing on my first week there. As soon as I walked into their office, I knew it would be an amazing experience. The office was filled with laughter; people were working hard despite having little resources, and everyone seemed genuinely happy!
Preparing for Homecoming
I had visited many countries before, but Kenya was different for me. It’s much like home; I grew up in New York City in America, but I feel that there are a lot of similarities between my birthplace and Africa as a whole. One big similarity is that there are children on both continents who have difficulty getting proper education due to various circumstances. In Kenya, it’s primarily because they’re undomiciled or orphaned. In New York, it’s because they live in an underserved area of the city.
During my time there, I saw many things that were both wonderful and terrible. The things that I saw have changed me forever. In addition, it opened my eyes to how different life is for those living in Africa versus those living in America. -MM