During our +40 days field studies across East Africa, EGF team members stayed in full immersion with local families & orphanages. From the slums of Kibera to the rural areas of Nukuru, Kakamega, Kitale, Ruiru, Thika and Kambi, we were warmly welcomed to lovely evening conversations, a bed & a meal each day. We are listening & learning so much more from experiencing the context in which our entrepreneurs operate their social businesses. We would like to share our experiences staying with local families & orphanages via a series of short articles in our blog:
Series 1: Vumilia – Mama Rose
During our travels through Western Kenya, hidden away in the lush, green landscape of the Kakamega rainforest, the EGF team came across a little treasure in the form of Vumilia Children’s Home.
Vumilia started life in 2004 as a women’s group with only a dozen members, counselling HIV positive women in the poor, rural community. This is an area where women are marginalised and the HIV/AIDS epidemic and domestic violence pose huge challenges. Vumilia sought to support these women and give them a voice in the local community. The group expanded and in 2005 a counselling and testing centre was founded, following by a feeding program for malnourished children. It became clear that due to high HIV/AIDS prevalence in the area, there were many orphaned children. Many of these girls were left homeless as their extended family did not want to take on one more mouth to feed, and girls have a lower status than boys. In 2006, Vumilia founded a girl’s home to provide care and education for these girls.
In 2010 a 6 acre farm was purchased in the area with help from donors. Dormitories were built and the existing girl’s home moved to this site. Since then a flourishing farm has been created on the site, including cows, chickens, fruit and vegetables, and a fish pond. The farm produce helps to feed the children, and excess is sold to the local community to help fund Vumilia. In 2012 Vumilia began a home schooling program for its children, hiring teachers to work with the girls instead of sending them to overcrowded local primary schools.
The 27 girls at Vumilia receive a nutritious diet, good education, and learn important life skills through assisting on the farm or working with visiting craftsmen. The founder of the orphanage is a qualified counsellor and all the children receive extensive counselling to help them overcome their emotional issues and build their self-esteem.
However at Vumilia these girls receive something even more precious than a healthy diet, or good education – they find a caring and loving home. Surrounded by green forest and farmland, Vumilia does not feel like an institution. From the windows of the two-storey house, girls can be seen playing in the gardens, milking the cows, lending a hand in the kitchen or taking part in a craft workshop in the shelter of some trees. They greet visitors with a press of the hand and a big smile, introducing themselves, whilst Mama Rose, the founder of the orphanage, gets a big hug.
Rose Moon is the creator and driving force behind Vumilia, and a shining example of how it only takes one dedicated individual to transform the worlds of many people. Coming from a poor family herself, Rose didn’t get her first pair of shoes until she went to high school. She saw her parents fight to give their children a good education, which has lifted Rose and her siblings out of poverty to have a better life. Rose now has a passion to educate others so they can free themselves from the poverty cycle.
Rose would like to see Vumilia grow further to become a community-based organisation, home to 50 girls. She has a vision to build a series of huts on the site, each of which would be home to a ‘family’ – five girls and a house-mother, a widow employed from the local community. Each family would have their own cow and chickens and help farm the land, and the girls would be educated at the school on site. The Vumilia farm would feed these families and provide an income to make the entire project self-sustainable, not reliant on donor money.
However, Vumilia has some obstacles to overcome before Rose can make this dream a reality. As a very small, grass-roots organisation, Vumilia is not currently being supported by any large donors or foreign partners, and is experiencing a severe funding shortfall. They are struggling to pay teachers and hire extra farm labourers to help work all of the land on the farm. They have no electricity on site due to the high cost of installation, and are reliant on solar lamps at night. They also desperately need English, Art and Music teachers. If you would like to support the work of Vumilia and make a big impact in this small corner of rural Kenya, there are lots of things which you can do to help.
If you would like to sponsor a Vumilia child for £15 a month, or visit Vumilia for 1-3 months as a volunteer teacher please contact Emma Troop on firstname.lastname@example.org