“Nyumbani Kwetu is Elimu’s founding project. This was my training ground. These kids and their experiences at school taught me so much about life and culture in Kenya and about the complexities of the education system and how to make your way through it.” - Nina Chung, Founder
Nyumbani Kwetu Means “Our Place”
Nyumbani Kwetu Home provides education and housing for children who happen to all be related through one grandmother. The family is headed by a housemother who looks after childcare and housekeeping. They live in a comfortable rented house.
In the Beginning …
Nina Chung, founder of Elimu, first arrived in Kenya in 2004 on a volunteer posting. She soon met a grandmother caring for four grandchildren. Her occasional income from washing clothes and cleaning houses was less than $70 a month – not enough to provide for their basic needs, much less the children’s schooling.
The first step towards establishing Elimu was paying kindergarten fees for two little boys in 2005. Although public primary schools are free in Kenya, they are often overcrowded and poor quality, and there are administrative and exam fees to pay and other costs that crop up. Kindergarten involves annual fees. Then there are also uniforms and school supplies which parents have to purchase.
Maintaining Family Ties
As Nina got involved with this family, more children were dropped off to the grandmother. Some were orphans removed from an orphanage that closed its doors. Others simply had no support. As the numbers grew, the grandmother could no longer cope with all the responsibilities. Nina decided to take a bold step toward supporting these children while maintaining them as a family. In 2008, she entered into a family sponsorship of this group as a whole, running the household like a children’s home but maintaining and involving family relationships.
Breaking the Cycle
The name Nyumbani Kwetu was chosen because it means “our place” in Swahili. Before Elimu got involved, life was very different for these children. They were regularly undernourished. Today, they get a good daily portion of healthy local fare. Previously, schooling was irregular or poor quality. Today, they are in good quality private and public schools with additional support from Elimu Resource Center. Before, chronic health issues plagued some of the children. Today, regular medical care and proper hygiene are keeping these kids healthy and active. Our goal is to break the cycle of poverty that is part of their family history, through education and mentorship.
Help Us Keep These Children Healthy and in School
- High school (boarding) fees per child start at $700 per year.
- Primary school fees per child start at $300 per year.
- A supply of bathing soap for a year is around $130.
- One year supply of toothpaste costs $40.
- A pair of school shoes costs $20.
- One pair of socks for school for one child is less than $2.