Our children learn about love and family
In Kibera - the largest slum in Nairobi - poverty has a harsh character and ugly face. Fair or not, it is children coming from unstable families who have to look at this poverty straight in the eye every morning. These children come to us in dire need of shelter, food, clothing and protection.
St. Vincent's Rescue Center cares for orphaned and vulnerable children. We often come into first contact with them through Kenya's Department of Children’s Services, learning of their histories of neglect and physical and sexual abuse. Most of the abuses are perpetrated by close relatives, making it difficult for the child to stay in living in their family.
In the case of orphaned children, most relatives do not want to assume parental responsibilities. Children start moving from one relative to another leaving them with no place to call home. They feel unappreciated and unwanted. Often, they are forced to drop out of school so they can be used as house helpers attending to all sorts of house chores, including caring for the other children in the house. We have children in our care who have been denied food, locked in the house by parents/relatives, or left alone at home to fend for themselves at very young ages. In cases where the parents have died, children may be denied their inheritance as relatives make arrangements to take ownership of the assets.
The above are some of the many issues that the children of St. Vincent's Rescue Center have faced before coming into our care. We work to give our children the attention, love and care they never would have received. Whether their stay is short or longer term, we try to provide a friendly family environment where each of these children feel at home and grow in love. Together with our friends and well wishers, we are able to provide them with nutritious food, shelter and most importantly protection -- a place they can call home and feel safe and a family they can identify themselves with.
We also try to reintegrate them with their families when possible by working with other known relatives to arrange visits and establish bonds with the children. However, this is an extremely challenging task. Children are eager for a warm reception, but instead might be shown cold shoulders. During their visits, sadly some are expected to come with their own food to eat during their stay. Some are told they should go back. We work with relatives to address these issues, but the ideal situation of reintegration is a process and cannot always be acheived.
In Kenya we are taught that that it takes the courage and patience of a whole village to raise a child. At St. Vincent's, we feel privileged that we are enabled by our partners to always offer a shoulder for these needy children to lean on. We thank you for your support.