As I mentioned in my last post, so much has happened in the last 3 months. For one thing, I’ve been getting exposure to various ministries in the area. One of the very first ministries I was introduced to is the Eldoret Children’s Rescue Center. As the name implies, they are located here in the town of Eldoret, and they work with children living on the street or otherwise at-risk.
Their ultimate goal is reuniting families. Many, but not all, of their children come off of the street. They do whatever they can to track down families and then support and strengthen the family so children can stay with their parents. If the home environment is ultimately unsafe for a child, they will bring the child back, but based on what they told us, they have a pretty good rate of success.
A large part of the success of reunification depends on what they can do to strengthen the family. They had a school on campus but realized many of the children were coming back to the center because their parents could not afford to keep them in school. Their response: they closed the school and funneled that money into providing uniforms and school fees so that families could stay together. A statistic I heard over and over in grad school is that 80% of children in orphanages worldwide are not true orphans, but they can get better education, health care, etc in the orphanage, so the parents would rather the child be where they will get the best care, even if that isn’t in the home. The rescue center recognized this trend and did something to reverse it and encourage children to stay with their families. And it seems to be working.
They are attempting to end the cycle of street-children by working with street-mothers. They have a “distressed mothers” unit in which young mothers living on the street can come live and get training. They must learn to cook, care for a home, manage their finances, as well as learn a trade. When they complete the program, they assist the mother in finding a job and a home. They have had two women go through the program with a 50% success rate! One mother stayed for only a short time and left without her children. I suppose she thought they would receive better care at the center than with her. They have not had any contact with her since she left. The other mother has a home and a job. She still brings her children during the day to be cared for while she is working, as they are too young for school. Such a beautiful plan with so much potential.
They have big dreams! They have a ten year plan which includes a three-stage care plan for children, primary school (which would be open to the public), a chapel, play and recreation areas, reading rooms, and the most intense vocational training block I’ve seen yet (with electrical, plumbing, masonry, carpentry, motor vehicle, metalwork, hairdressing, dressmaking, catering, and computer/business training areas).
They still have a long way to go, but they know what they want and are working toward it. I’m excited at the possibility of partnering with them as they grow and develop. Remember the Eldoret Children’s Rescue Center and their director, June, in your prayers.