The WEMA home in Bamburi is a long way from the cramped premises in Likoni and the time spent camping in the Yinda’s garden. As one passes in the front gate on the right is the splendid new building ‘Chipukizi Centre’. To the left is a large grassy area for football and volleyball. Straight ahead are classrooms with the happy sound of childrens’ voices. The IT class, the library, the cooking school, the tailoring class, the large cookers in the kitchen department, the dining room, the offices, dormitories, bathrooms, the fish ponds, the cows, the seasonal garden; the separate small house for the volunteers and the occasional paying guest, almost a small town! If it is school holidays or break time for the 3 KG classes there are children running everywhere, laughing and playing on the grass and in the playground with its slides and other fun toys. When a child first comes to WEMA, rescued from living on the street or other vulnerable place, fearful, traumatized, alone, it must seem like a dream. Everything possible is done by the teachers (3 of whom are young women brought up at WEMA), house mothers and other experienced staff to make that child feel welcome and most of all safe.
WEMA does not exist as an island but has integrated with the community! The Chipukizi Centre, funded by Safaricom Foundation, will, once it is furnished, house a barber’s shop, a tuck shop, a cyber café and a restaurant. These will be run by community youth. This the first phase. The second phase will include a large multi-purpose hall, a music studio, a radio station and a library. Tuesdays and Fridays BOMU hospital hold a clinic at WEMA and on these days mothers from the community can be seen with their children waiting to see the doctor. Community children attend the KG classes, free of charge. Many community children come to eat with the residents; the fish from the ponds and the milk from WEMA’s 7 cows are used to enrich the children’s diet. The IT department as well as teaching the residents offers affordable classes to the community. The Dream Catcher bus (a dream come true) extends the IT education program to the children who live in the street: a bus converted to hold 10 computers visits Mama Ngina Drive, Mbaraki and Makadara on a regular weekly schedule. This program is assisted by students from Technical University of Mombasa and KEPSA. The bus unfortunately at this moment is off the road, needing a new engine.
Cooking and tailoring classes are also available at WEMA for the resident and community girls.
Children’s homes come in for a lot of criticism and may not be the ideal place for children to grow up but adopting and fostering are a rare occurrence and so WEMA works hard to provide the home that these children have either lost or never had, to make every child feel that they are a special and precious part of a large and loving family, safe and cared for.
"The Wema Bamburi Home: The 20 year Journey",
by Marlene Reid, Board Member and Trustee.