This year my son’s school participated in a project preparing Christmas boxes for vulnerable children across Nairobi. Upon reading about the home and girl we were allocated, I learned that whilst still a child, she was older than I expected and that she was about to give birth. I investigated further and learned about Wings of Hope Rescue Centre.
Wings of Hope work with the Children's Department (Kenya’s equivalent of Social Services) and take referrals of the most vulnerable cases of teenage pregnancy, where the girls, some as young as 13, are pregnant as a result of rape and abuse. The centre provides the girls with a place to stay, encourages them to receive antenatal care and takes them to a hospital for delivery. After giving birth, mother and baby are supported for six months to encourage exclusive breastfeeding and then the mother is supported back into school to complete her education while her baby is cared for by centre staff.
The majority of these girls and children stay at the centre for years, because they are not welcome back with their families, or it is not safe for them as their abuser has not been prosecuted.
Cherio and I visited Wings of Hope last week and were moved by our experience of meeting the team, the girls and the children. In most cases, there are four girls and their four children in one room; babies sleep in bunk beds with their mothers. But the girls and their children are safe and cared for.
Whilst Child.org does not support institutions housing children (and the Kenyan government is moving away from doing so too, in favour of reintegration), we recognise that there are some cases where children, particularly girls, are extremely vulnerable and there may not be opportunities for safe reunification. We also recognise that there are elements of our work and expertise that Wings of Hope and the girls and babies can benefit greatly from.
For this reason we’re launching a Christmas appeal to support Wings of Hope this year. We want to provide mothers of the youngest babies with baby boxes, to provide mums with a safe place to put their babies to sleep during the day, or if sharing a bed at night isn’t safe.
We also want to provide the centre staff with training on the content of Pregnant Women’s Groups; content includes information about what’s happening in their bodies, how to prepare for birth and looking after a newborn baby. By training the Wings of Hope team and giving them the teaching materials we’ve used successfully in other parts of Kenya, their team can provide this support to girls for years to come.
To support this appeal, you can buy a baby box (and receive a gift certificate in case you want to gift it to a loved one) or you can support the training and mentorship of the team by donating here, stating ‘Wings of Hope’ in your donation description.