MaryFaith Children Centre is a nonprofit making community based organization, for orphan and vulnerable girls who have been sexually abused or have gone through other forms of child abuse. It was started in 2004 as a self help group for women to empower themselves. It is during their daily life activities that they identified the need of starting a rescue center for girls who have been sexually abused. It was then registered as a community based organization. The organization shelters girls who vulnerable, especially sexual abuse victims. With the help of the police officers, ensures the arrest of the perpetrators, become witness in the cases and ensures the girls receive justice. After the rescue of the girls they are taken through counselling session to help them cope with the traumatic experiences. The girls are later taken through formal education or informal based on their age and level of education at the time of rescue. The organization also uses a proactive strategy to prevent abuse and rescues girls at risk of abuse. This is done by conducting public walks and campaigns to stop child abuse.
Most of the girls who go through sexual abuse end up being pregnant and no one is willing to host them for fear that it would give their children the idea that early pregnancies are allowed. The children homes which were willing to take them in would trace their families and give them back to their families. This was dangerous because most of these girls had been abused by a family member or friends to the family putting the girl and their unborn child at risk. MaryFaith Children Center was created to help solve the challenge of these girls by providing safe space for them to stay as their cases were being pursued. And these cases take so long before they are finalized.
At the center all the girls go to school during the Kenyan academic year period. All the girls in Secondary schools attend boarding schools while the primary school one attend classes at MaryFaith Primary School. This school was started to cater for the girls since taking them away in other schools their safety is not guaranteed based on the cases they have in court. It is also very costly to take the children to learn in other schools. The school is open to the community and the money earned goes into running the daily activities of the school. Currently the school has 5 teachers, two of these teachers are alumni of MaryFaith. During school holidays and the weekend, the girls are engaged in different activities to nurture their talents. This includes beadwork, art and drawing, music classes, hairdressing, football, dancing, dress making others. These are skills they can later use in future to earn an income.
Currently MaryFaith taking care of 69 children who are residents at the center. Out of these girls; 3 are in college, 1 is awaiting to join college, 21 in secondary school, 13 upper primary, 19 are in pre-school and 9 are toddlers and 1 attends special school. Some of the children at the center are boys who are children of girls at the center. Others are rescued babies who have been thrown away as young as a day after birth. There are 12 staff who work at the children center in different capacities, to help in the running of the daily activities.
Vision; To protect, rescue, empower and educate vulnerable girls
Mission; Provide orphaned and vulnerable girls especially those of sexual abuse with safe and loving shelter, education and livelihood skills to become empowered women.
The main Activities Involves;
- Rescue and housing abused girls
- Empowering girls on their rights
- Formal and non-formal education
- Community sensitization
- Training on life skills, child protection and other thematic areas
- Talent identification and development
- Vocational training
- Community re-integration
Our Key Achievements;
- 69 Children hosted at the center
- Over 1000 girls reached on Child protection
- 350 girls rescued, and over 280 re-integrated back to their communities
- More than 300 court cases hearing attended, and 30 perpetrators put to jail
- Over 10,000 community members reached with child protection messages
- Over 7 community mobilization events conducted.
- We are having a total of 70 children who are residents at the center. The space is small, and the children are crowded in the dorms where some are sleeping more than one in a bed. Our vision is to buy own land and build spacious dormitories and classes for the girls.
- Due to the sensitivity of the cases we handle one of our major challenge is ensuring we have security at the center all the time. In the past we have had incidents where relatives came to get their children to avoid them appearing in courts as witness.
- School fees for the girls in secondary school; we have 21 one girls in secondary school and it cost USD;10,756.16 per year to pay their school fees.
- Purchase of food and toiletries is a challenge due to the many numbers being hosted at the residence. The diapers, milk and baby products are especially costly, and we have 9 children who are toddlers.
- Staff salaries; we struggle in paying the salaries of our staff which means most of our staff work on volunteer basis.