Hero's of the Nation Orphanage in Nyahururu, Kenya
Update November 2011
150 million children across the world live on the streets because of poverty, neglect and abuse, and more than 17 million will starve to death this year. Kenya is unfortunately a nation where many of these children live.
In 2008/2009 Lejo Ouwendyk, Managing Director of Kennerlys heard about the plight of countless Kenyan orphans via the media and actively researched organisations and projects that he and his team could get involved with, and help.
Lejo discovered Hero’s of the Nation, and was immediately inspired to help answer the plight of orphans in Nyahururu, Kenya. The orphanage is the largest in Kenya, and currently houses and educates over 500 children.
Heroes of the Nation not only feeds, clothes and educates the children in their care, but they have the mission to encourage the orphans to strive to become the next generation of leaders. They seek to do this by instilling identity, faith, creating self-sufficient communities, teaching social justice, and emphasising the importance of an excellent education and leadership training.
Being impressed with the organisation, Lejo quickly activated his friends, family and staff to help make a difference. The team decided to start fundraising to build a 40 bed dormitory for young girls. They raised funds in lots of different ways including a golf day, and a novel building block project in their Reception where clients were invited to ‘own’ their own building block for $50. Lejo’s children also got involved, and raised profile for the project at their primary school, by encouraging other kids to donate pajamas for the orphans! They turned out to be a hit!
Lejo and supporters have raised over A$80,000 for the project so far. There have been normal set backs along the way, but nothing to dampen the spirits of all involved!
1st Trip To Kenya!
In October 2011, Lejo and his sister and mother (Rachel Ouwendyk & Therese Ouwendyk) travelled to Kenya for the opening of the new 40 bed dormitory for girls aged 3-9 years old.
Lejo was overwhelmed on arrival to Kenya, and was amazed by the disorganised yet organised state of the nation.
Lejo said, “I was overwhelmed by the welcome! What I saw of Kenya was incredible, and then on arriving at the orphanage, the little children were so excited to see us!”
Most of the children are orphans who come from poor family backgrounds. They have lost one or both parents from epidemics like HIV (Aids), hunger, ethnic violence, accidents or just common diseases like malaria and typhoid. Due to their poor environment the children often end up in the streets and in search for food. Heroes of the Nation rescue the children from dangerous situations and provide them with care, food, education and accommodation.
The orphanage is now home to over 400 orphans and 100 local school fee paying children. There are 50 staff that look after the children and there is a primary school and high school onsite.
In Kenya, less than half of the 600,000 students who would like to go to secondary school are able. Of those, less than 60,000 go on to finish university (source: unicef.org). All children at the orphanage are required to attend school 6 days per week, finish their secondary education, and that gives them a great advantage over many other young adults in Kenya.
Lejo said, “It’s inspiring to see how education is helping to improve their lives. They are really learning the lessons of life. “
Therese Ouwendyk said, “I was very impressed with Heros of the Nation and their care for the children. There is a great emphasis on education and that’s going to no doubt help these children get jobs and contribute to society when they are older. I am so proud of being able support this project, and am thankful for such a wonderful experience!”
Heroes of the Nation aims to make the orphanage as sustainable and self-sufficient as possible. Some of the ways they do that are by helping to start micro-enterprises in the community and when funds are available, undertaking farming projects.
Kennerlys have committed to supporting Hero's of the Nation Orphanage in Nyahururu, Kenya ongoing, and currently sponsor 17 little girls per month. They would love to increase this to all 40 children in the dormitory eventually. It costs A$60 per month to house, school, feed and clothe each child at the orphanage.
The whole orphanage operates on only A$12K per month and less than $5k per month pays for more than 50 staff (including teachers, aids, housemates). At the moment there is still a gap between required funds, and funds that are coming into the orphanage monthly, and Kennerlys will keep encouraging new supporters to get inolved. The orphanage is also in need of some new buildings, flushing toilets and fridges.
With Kennerlys assistance, the orphanage will also be helping to set up an entrepreneurial business club, and might be able to bring the orphanage’s accountant over to Perth, for some additional mentoring and a unique Australian experience.
Lejo, summed up the trip, “On returning home to my girls and wife, I did feel sad knowing what some kids in Kenya have to go through. It is hard coming to the terms with the disparity in our lifestyle, versus theirs. In Australia, we are so lucky. But the Kenyan children I met were genuinely thankful, and I’m sure with the opportunities they have been offered by Heroes of the Nation, they will grow up thankful and make a difference to their country. I’m glad that we are able to help make a difference, even though we live so far away, and I can’t wait to visit the orphanage again.”