When the Program first began in 1998, the majority of our orphans were living on the streets, sleeping in alleys or old abandoned sheds, and begging or stealing in order to survive. They were desperate and isolated, and they were seen as loiterers and menaces by the community. These children, who had already lost their parents and immediate family, suddenly had their link to the larger community family severed as well.
The children live in the homes of "guardians", who are primarily elderly grandparents or distant relatives. The guardians willingly share their wisdom and compassion but have few material resources available; the average Makindu family makes less than $20 a month in income and often supports a large compound of family members. The Center helps to support each of these family units so that the orphans are no longer seen as an intolerable burden. The kids regain their sense of family once again and are reunited with their community, rich in both heritage and wisdom. Many of the guardians have adopted an expanded commitment to the Center and children and have become some of our most loyal and supportive community members. They often come to talk and visit, to donate labor, advice, or firewood. They share with us their concerns and dreams for the orphans and for the future of all of their children.