Kivuli Trust Kenya

March 28th 2024  |   Unique Experiences  |  by   Georgie Harding Newman
Kivuli Trust Kenya

As one of the volunteers and key fundraisers at Kivuli Trust Kenya, I’d like to take the opportunity to share our story.

Kivuli Trust was established to support children with mental and physical disabilities who attend Gilgil Special School alongside a mainstream neighbouring school. These “forgotten” children receive specialist education and support within a regular school environment. Kivuli Trust (Kivuli meaning “shelter” in Kiswahili) built and operates two hostels for children attending the Gilgil Special School. A safe haven, providing the children with regular meals, proper beds, and the pastoral care and support they deserve that will help them to thrive in the future.

This is our story

It started in 1990

Kivuli Trust founder, Paula Pape lived and worked in Kenya until she sadly passed away in 2023. In 1990 Paula came across a little hut on the site of Gilgil Township School, where she found a teacher and about half a dozen other children with special educational needs. Paula asked the teacher, Rhoda Otieno if there was anything she could do to help to which she replied, “they need time and love”. Paula immediately started raising awareness and providing basic supplies with the help of Pembroke House School where she worked.

Gilgil special school

Gilgil Special School

More children began attending the school and there was a real need to provide residential boarding for these vulnerable children who were at risk every day as they walked to school. Kivuli Trust was created, and we built our first hostel in 2008 that housed 17 boys and 17 girls. In 2011 we built a second hostel, and we now have 68 children in our care during term time. Families in the local community began to hear about Kivuli and the work that we are doing and have come to find us, which is wonderful.

Kivuli Trust Hostel, Rhoda the deputy head teacher

Kivuli Trust Hostel, Rhoda the deputy head teacher

As numbers grew Gilgil Special School was formally established and separated from the mainstream school, although it remains within the same compound. Rhoda is the Deputy Headteacher at GSS and manages the Kivuli Hostels. GSS is a government-run day school principally for children with learning difficulties (although some also have physical challenges) and our Kivuli children attend alongside other local children with special needs. Kivuli runs a food programme feeding around 120 children and staff every day.

Children from Kivuli Trust at playground

Kivuli Trust

Kivuli Trust UK and the Kivuli Hostels Community-Based Organisation in Kenya are run entirely by volunteers and we make sure every donation counts, no matter how small. We raise funds through ‘Just Giving’ and have been very lucky to receive some corporate sponsorship from businesses like Aardvark Safaris. These children receive the most wonderful care from our dedicated team of local carers, cooks, and onsite physiotherapist. None of this would be possible without the donations that we receive. Kivuli costs in the region £40,000 per year. We are currently fundraising for a grow house that will house vegetables that can be used in the hostel kitchen and a water purifier to cleanse the water which comes from our borehole.

Integration, where appropriate is key and helps to manage the stigma that these “forgotten children” undergo. Some children from Kivuili have managed to integrate into the neighboring mainstream school when it has become apparent that their intellectual challenges are resulting from a lack of access to education rather than learning difficulties.

Children at Kivuli Trust School

Children at Kivuli Trust School

Our vision for the future

Is to send Kivuli graduates to a local vocational centre so that they can further develop the skills they have acquired in our classes and are well equipped for the life ahead. Every one of these children is special and has something to give to society. It is always incredibly humbling to visit the children in their homes and to see the positive impact Kivuli has made on their lives. Our dream is for them to continue to get the most they can out of life.

This year Aardvark Safaris will be donating a proportion of its profit to Kivuli Trust. For further details about the charity and how you can help support the “forgotten children of Kivuli”, visit our website kivulitrust.org.


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