Molo Street - how it began

01/01/2004 11:19:08

Molo Street Children was set up primarily by Sonia Donnan. This is her story..

On my arrival in Kenya I became distressed at the number of children on the street looking for food.

Further enquiry told me that unlike other places, most of the street children in Molo were not homeless, but their families were too poor to feed them. I tried to help by starting a meal voucher scheme along with the help of two Molo residents. This voucher scheme did not succeed.

On talking to the boys it became clear that although education was free they were unable to attend school because they couldn't afford the uniform. On discovering that shirts and trousers only cost 350/= (£2.50), I set out to raise money to try and provide uniform for as many boys as I could afford. Having raised the money, I teamed up with a member of Molo Happy Church to recruit suitable boys. We had to choose boys who had homes and parents to back them up; who would provide food and encourage them to go to school.

In visiting the boys' homes we found the need was much greater than we had thought. We met Cecelia, a 13 yr old girl in sole charge of Brian and Moses. This moved us into another area of care, providing a home for these children. (I was told there were no children's homes in Molo, the nearest being in Nakuru). We had to find a home and urgent carers for these three children. We built a small house and put them into the care of a member of the church.

By the summer of 2004 we had 10 children in school and 1 in a training centre. We had also recognized the need to help some of these parents to keep their children at school, so off the street. After much discussion we decided to start 2 families on chicken raring projects and they were given a hen and a cock to produce chicks.

I was still very concerned that there were a large number of boys on the streets who we were not impacting. I came back from a Christian conference in England, convinced that I should start a contact centre for these boys. After discussion with Pastor Karanja things were set in motion and on 11th October 2004 the centre was opened at Molo Happy Church. This was a great step forward for me and a giant leap of faith, that God would provide all the resources. We employed 7 people for this: 2 to cook a meal and 5 to interact with the boys. We expected approximately 40 boys. The boys would be divided into groups and the group leader would get to know them, do educational sessions with them, and visit their homes. Our aim was to start rehabilitation, with the aim of getting as many of these boys as possible into school or on training programs by January.

On the first morning 43 boys came (it was a public holiday, so even those who would normally be at school came.) We were unable to provide clean clothes for all of them, but everyone had a wash and a hearty meal of rice and dengu (beans) with vegetables. The boys were very keen to go to school and some expressed a wish to go to boarding school because of the situation at home, and also to keep them away from the streets and glue. The youngest boy was 6. The oldest was 20. There were 6, 13-15 year olds who had never been to school. The most education anyone had received so far was up to Standard 6.

The sessions were a success and the numbers dropped to 23 once school started up again, but fluctuated between 20-40. We started having a group of young girls who were not on the street, but were poorly provided for by their very poor parents or relatives. From information being received from the boys and reports coming back from the workers' visits to the boy's homes, we were beginning to see the need for a hostel!

Soon after this we were offered the opportunity to build a centre on land belonging to the Noble Women group, (a self help women's group, from Molo Happy Church). We accepted this offer and on 30th October 2004 we put up a notice board and planted some trees as a first step.

By February 2005, we had built a two roomed contact centre on this land, which was at Kibunja, an hours walk outside Molo. The boys began coming to the centre for food, a wash and to learn a trade. The centre was fully staffed and open 5 days a week, offering the trades tailoring, carpentry, and mechanics. As well as this they could learn English, Maths and participate in bible studies. The boys also participated in Shamba work (farming).

The finished hostel buildingWork began very soon on a hostel in which the boys attending the centre could live in. After about 16 months of building, this was finally officially opened in June 2006. It contained four dormitories, with room for 20 boys, a common room, shower block, kitchen and toilets. Initially 7 boys lived in the Hostel.

By August 2006 it became clear that we were having great difficulty rehabilitating the older boys, and we were missing an ever increasing number of younger children who were on the streets during the day time. Some as young as 3yrs old. These were not attending the centre at Kibunja and it seemed that if we wanted to reach them we would need to move back into town to do so. So after arranging for the older boys to either start apprenticeships or enter full time training institutions we returned to work in the centre of Molo Town.

Drop in centre at molo happy church.So on 11th October 2006 we started a drop-in centre in temporary accommodation at Molo Happy Church. This centre was meeting a real need and we numbered between 20-30 children ages between 18mths to 12 yrs daily. We continued to put children into schools and provide tutoring and feeding. During school holidays our numbers rose to 60-70.

In September 2008, another premises was found, so the project could move away from Molo Happy church. The land is in the process of being purchased. The site is situated very close to the church, near to the centre of Molo, and is the current home of the project. On this site there is house which is used as a hostel, classrooms, kitchens, staff accomodation and room for the children to play. The classrooms are used to educate about 20- 30 children during term time, these are children who are not ready for formal education. However during holidays, the numbers swell to over 100 children. Many of these are children we have placed in school overthe years who return to the project to receive extra education, New centrefood and occupation to keep them off the streets.

Last year (2008), the project was also involved in helping the displaced people after the clashes of january 2008. During August we catered for up to 300 children on site during the school holidays and was actively supporting many families during the resettlement period. we are still involved inthis to a lesser degree withthehelp of International Teams relief fund.


Molo Street Children Project, PO Box 261, Molo, Kenya, 20106

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