Helping Children in Poverty in Kenya in 2022

Q & A with Nicholas Nzivo Kimatu, OneChild Kenya Country Director

Meeting Kenya’s Biggest Problems with Hope and Determination

Six small barefoot children stand arm in arm in front of a mud house

Child Champions gives kids reasons to hope in the midst of hardships.

Each time we visit Kenya we’re struck by the diversity and beauty of the country. In many ways, Kenya is rich – in biodiversity of wildlife and land, and in a rich and vibrant culture. But many of Kenya’s people also face grinding poverty, and children always suffer the most.

We’ve also seen that one of Kenya’s greatest resources is the creativity and strength of its people. Like Child Champions who are working with determination to break down the barriers of poverty for Kenya’s children and help them become leaders in their generation. Poverty statistics from Kenya only tell part of the story. To understand the reality kids face, we want to hear the perspective of Kenyans who are on the front lines of creating change for kids in their country.

Nicholas Nzivo

Kenya Country Director Nicholas Nzivo talks with children in Turkana, Kenya.

OneChild has worked with Nicholas Nzivo Kimatu, Kenya’s Country Director, since 2008. His dedication to the children in Kenya was evident when we asked him about the struggles and highlights of 2022 and what he looks forward to this year.

These are five insights Nicholas shared with us about helping kids in Kenya in 2022:

These past few years have been especially challenging due to the pandemic and now a struggling worldwide economy. What were some of the hardest things your community faced last year?

We saw duress in families owing to loss of income, increased cost of living, and separation because of parents needing to work far away from home to meet basic needs. These burdens were greatly felt by our children. However, because everyone was affected, we witnessed our community coming together even more to support each other.

How were Child Champions able to address these challenges? How did they help the children and their families?

A woman prepares food in a kitchen over an open fire.

The nutritions food kids receive at their Hope Centers is important to their health, especially since most don’t get regular, well-rounded meals at home.

Child Champions offered emotional support as they listened and offered counseling services to children and families, and when they made home visits, they brought baskets of food and other necessities, which provided a great relief. At the Hope Centers, Child Champions ensured that all the kids stayed in school, and some provided space for personal studies when it was difficult for children to do so at home.

Read about how a Child Champion ensured a little boy received life-saving medical attention.

Sponsors play a significant role in the lives of their sponsored children. What were some of the best ways sponsors encouraged their children and supported their dreams?

A woman in traditional Kenyan clothes and beads stands with her teen daughter holding letters in front of a hut built of sticks

Jessica says the letters from her sponsor over the years helped her feel close.

Letter-writing was and is the best way for sponsors and children to be personally engaged and connected. Unfortunately, we felt that a substantial number of sponsors did not write to their kids last year. A letter makes the relationship much more personal and thus increases the socio-emotional impact on the child and gives them hope. Children who received letters were affected in such a positive way by having that connection with their sponsors.

Read a Kenyan girl’s testimony of how her sponsor’s letters brought her hope.

OneChild emphasizes the importance of children and youth speaking into and guiding their own programming. In what ways did you see this happen?

In Kenya, we require the local leadership to include children in the Hope Center management committee. We encourage program facilitators to plan for the weekly activities together with the youth so as to best address the children’s needs and the changing youth culture. Last year, our children voiced their desires to be creative and express themselves through drama and skits, which was a very popular activity in our Hope Centers.

Meet Grace, a child leader at her Hope Center.

What is your vision for the Hope Centers in Kenya this year?

My dream is to see an active alumni association where former Hope Center participants give back to the community. I would also love to see a vibrant field office that establishes more transformative local collaborations with like-minded entities so we can mobilize local resources for a greater impact that eliminates poverty among our community and serves more children.

Learn more about Kenya and how Child Champions are bringing hope to children and their families.

Help this story grow:

We are accountable to the children we serve AND to our donors.

Our accountability to our donors is one of our highest priorities. Our goal is to use the funds entrusted to us as wise stewards. To do this requires continued monitoring of our fund distribution. OneChild is also a member in good standing with the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA)