The road to Zawadi la Tumaini’s opening has been a bumpy ride. After a year of planning for the orphanage in Iiani, we recently received news that there is no water source on our property.
It is believed that we could quite possibly dig down more than 500 feet only to find that there is no water due to drought.
Unfortunately, for the safety of the children, staff and volunteers, we cannot operate in a community without a sustainable water source.
The board of directors and I were faced with a tough decision. After considerable debate, we all knew that at the end of the day our goal is to assist the orphaned children of Kenya.
We decided to focus on the children rather than the location.
After much consideration, we have decided to use our plot in Iiani solely for agriculture and potentially a community centre in the future.
The plot could possibly be used to grow food to provide an income for Zawadi la Tumaini, or we may rent the land to local farmers to provide income and sustainability to the community.
Following the decision to use the plot in Iiani for agriculture only, I began my search for a new housing option for Zawadi la Tumaini.
After a lot of consideration between the board and I we decided our best option would be renting a four or five-bedroom home to use for the first two years of operation prior to constructing our own buildings.
Just the thought made my heart race. By renting an existing home, we don’t need to wait to raise the money for a borehole and we don’t have to wait for the construction to be complete.
The possibility of offering a home to children in need would be just months away with this option.
My wonderful Kenyan team and I began our search in Machakos town. After seeing many overpriced homes for rent and a wasp-infested former children’s home that was built in the 1970s, we moved our search to Naivasha.
In Naivasha we had no luck finding a home. There were several properties available, but ultimately the board and I hoped to find a home to rent as soon as possible.
After a year of observing other children’s homes and networking with other directors, I’ve learned that the most successful projects began by renting a simple home.
After three weeks of searching, I was beginning to worry we would not find a home. Maybe heartbroken is a better term. Thankfully my team here and in Canada continued to motivate me and they pushed me to find a home. Giving up was not an option.
On a beautiful sunny day in the first week of November, my team and I drove to Donholm, Nairobi. Donholm is located approximately 45 minutes from the airport. It is a large community with easy access to schools, religious/community centres, hospitals and markets.
We eagerly took in our scenery as the car approached the home we would be viewing. The home sits within a large neighbourhood. In this area, every home has its own gated compound, ensuring full security. As we rounded a corner, and the home came into view, I immediately felt positive.
Our eyes soaked in a beautiful home enclosed with a high secure wall and large baby-blue gate. Upon meeting our agent and entering into the spacious five-bedroom home, it was clear to me that this would, indeed, be our first home for Zawadi la Tumaini.
There is a sizeable play area in front of the home where the children can play and a small area in the back, as well. Once you step into the home, you enter a living room with an attached dining area.
I could immediately see the children sitting at the table in the evening laughing and sharing stories or completing homework. There is a small window connecting the dining area and kitchen, which is perfect for an orphanage.
In this home, I can see the future of Zawadi la Tumaini. I see us renting this house for the next two years while slowly beginning to construct buildings of our own.
The community currently only has the support of one orphanage. With the number of orphans in Nairobi increasing daily, we will be able to assist many children.
Here in Kenya, things move slowly. There are many hurdles to overcome due to corruption, scheduling and lack of compassion from officials. I’m very grateful to announce that we are just a few short months away from opening our doors.
My Kenyan team, my Sudbury team and I we would like to thank the city of Sudbury for your continuous support. We all look forward to sharing our journey with you. As we say here in Kenya – Asante Sana.
Hanmer resident Jacqueline Villeneuve chronicles her efforts to construct the Zawadi la Tumaini Children’s Home, a refuge for HIV/AIDS orphans in Kenya. Zawadi la Tumaini translates in English to “gift of hope.”