Homa Bay orphans children home/project was started due occurrence of a natural calamity when lightning struck and killed a mother who has just converted into Christianity leaving behind one-week old infant, the missionaries, not knowing what to do with the infant (Esther Juma), took the infant into their home. This prompted the registration of the Home in the year 1969. Having seen the good work that the missionaries were doing, the local municipal council gave to the project 6.2 acres piece of land to build the children’s home in 1977. Later, the municipal added another 3.3 acres of land to the children’s home where the current academy is established.
Since its initiation, the Homabay Children’s home has undergone three major phases
1965–1995 – During this time, focus was on the orphanage that rescued infants left behind following death of their mothers
1995-2011: Focus was on the orphanage/children and their families through child sponsorship and establishment of an academy to support the education of the vulnerable children.
2012–2017: Focus had been on community development/family empowerment
During this time, a total of 3,000 infants between the ages of one day and 3 years have been assisted through the project. Assistance included giving the infants a shelter, through the children’s home, meeting the basic needs of the children (food, clothing, shelter; health care and spiritual nourishment).
During this period, 132 children were supported through their secondary schooling, 25 children were supported through their university education. 14 students were supported to attend college education. at the same time, 381 children were facilitated in their preschool and primary education. Concerning family empowerment, 16 families were supported to acquire cattle that aimed to improve their livelihoods. Semi-permanent houses were constructed for 14 very poor families.
So many of the children that have gone through the programme are successful and are today self-reliant and independent. Among those that have maintained contact with the project are 2 secondary school teachers, 3 primary school teachers; 1 clinical officer and 2 pastors.
2012 to 2017
For school support, over 300 students were kept in school through the provision of school learning materials (books, pens) tuition fees and school uniforms. At the same time, the project has worked closely with 161 families in improving their livelihood. This has been achieved through training on entrepreneurship, and by supporting the guardians to form self-help groups through which they have been able to save and access cheap financial services. This has enabled these families to access capital that they have used to improve their family income and grow their small businesses.
During this period, 6 children clubs were initiated. Children club is a forum for the children to receive psycho social support, care and love. The clubs allowed children to play, interact and develop their social and life skills. Through the clubs, 136 children have participated and grown. In addition, 120 students were linked to institutions of higher learning (post-secondary education).
To support the work, some of the income generating activities that were done by the project included the establishment of a primary school (from preschool to class 8). The school being an academy has improved the education standards in the area besides support to the vulnerable children. Being among the best, some of the students that have passed through have gone to excel in their post-secondary education and careers. The school caters for all children and the income for it is used to support the needy children and families.
In addition, other income generating activities include the farm. In this farm that is on ten acres land, 4,000 trees have been grown and there is also a tree nursery that is generating income for the community activities. There is also a poshmill and poultry farming that generate income for the work.
Reducing child mortality rate
When the project started way back in 1965, there were high infant mortality rates in Homabay. This was due to the fact that there was little awareness on pre and post-natal care due to the fact that there were no health facilities and personnel. Due to poverty and the area being remote, most pregnant women did not get prenatal care. And during delivery, they would deliver at home and when complication arose, most of the women died leaving behind the infants.
Through the project, awareness on maternal health care were promoted and this opened the area to various interventions by the government and other actors that have promoted child and maternal health ensuring that today, the infant mortality rates have been reduced.
Promoting education of children
Homabay, despite its potential is a very poor area as compared to the rest of the country. This state of poverty has ensured that not all children could go to school. Through the project, education of children has been promoted in the area. The Project has contributed in raising awareness on the importance of education and promoting children to access basic education. This has been achieved through child sponsorship which has ensured children school needs (learning materials such as pens, books, tuition fees and school uniforms) were provided to the vulnerable children.
Through the project over 3,000 children were facilitated to acquire basic education over the years. In addition, the academy run by the local partner has benefited over 6,000 pupils who haves passed through the school.
The project over the years has facilitated many families and youths to gain relevant skills for them to be self-reliant. Many youths have been taken through vocational trainings such as carpentry, mechanic building and constructions. Today, those who have benefited are making a living from the skills they have learned through the project
Promotion of livelihood
Though poverty in Homabay is still high compared to other areas in Kenya, those families who have been lucky to be into contact with the project, their livelihood have been improved. Many families have been trained on various entrepreneurial skills. This has ensured that the livelihood of these families has improved. Self-help groups have been formed to help the beneficiaries pull their resources together hence helping them to address sustainability issue.. The groups save together and from these savings, they can get loans at affordable rates. Through these, many of them are improving their standards of living and their family income has increased.