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Teaching orphaned boys about sustainable farming

African Sisters Education Collaborative (ASEC)

At Ukweli Home of Hope, the boys learn by doing. From the streets of Nairobi, they are becoming farmers, getting an education and learning to run a business.

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SLDI mentee Sr. Catherine Wanza creates a biogas digester plant at Ukweli Home of Hope, allowing her to teach boys from the streets of Nairobi about sustainable agriculture and farming.

Sr. Catherine has made strides in eliminating hunger through sustainable farming. As Director of the Ukweli Home of Hope, she has provided basic necessities, counseling, healthcare, and education to over 200 orphaned boys, guiding them towards a future hope for a better life.

An estimated 300,000 children are on the streets in Kenya today. The majority are male, urban migrants (ages 6-15) coming from single family homes with very little education and no source of income. Some of the boys were abandoned, and some lost their families to war or illness. They survived by eating garbage, working small jobs and petty crime. Sexual exploitation is also common. 

"Many people are taking care of girls, and we felt the boys were lost," said Sr. Catherine

"When you work with them, you understand that most crimes are done by street boys, and when you rehabilitate them you reduce crime," she said. "Imagine, we could have had 200 criminals instead of students!"

Sr. Catherine provides shelter and loving care to 25 former street boys in Nairobi.

Ukweli Home, which cares for about 25 boys at a time, runs on donations and the income generated from a large garden that the boys plant and harvest themselves. 

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Boys from Ukweli Home are learning to farm and raising their own funds with crops from the garden. Here, the boys are cleaning the biogas digester. The waste products fertilize their farm.

Boys from Ukweli Home are learning to farm and raising their own funds with crops from the garden. Here, the boys are cleaning the biogas digester. The waste products fertilize their farm.

To save on utility costs, a biogas digester on the farm uses livestock waste to create gas that is piped to the home for cooking. Biogas production uses oxygen free digestion, which reduces odor, produces energy and improves the storage of manure. It also helps in reducing pollution. Much of her knowledge she gained through the mentorship of an alumna of ASEC's Sisters Leadership Development Initiative (SLDI) program.

Sr. Catherine Wanza holds a bottle of the Ukweli Oasis Drinking Water with Kennedy Mwaura, 15, the class poet. The water bottling project is an income-generating project to help support school fees for more than 100 boys a year. (GSR photo / Melanie Lidman)

Sr. Catherine Wanza holds a bottle of the Ukweli Oasis Drinking Water with Kennedy Mwaura, 15, the class poet. The water bottling project is an income-generating project to help support school fees for more than 100 boys a year. (GSR photo / Melanie Lidman)

Sr. Catherine has also raised funds to establish a bottled water income generating project at Ukweli Home. The Ukweli Oasis Drinking Water bottling project is now operational, and sells water locally to support the home for boys. Sr. Catherine hopes that Lucas Maina, a 21-year-old university student who lived at Ukweli Home for a decade, thinks that the bottling project will help Ukweli Home to be financially independent. He, along with five other Ukweli home graduates, plan to run the bottling factory upon graduation from university. This will provide employment opportunities and a chance for the boys to gain experience running a business.It will also help Ukweli Home to move to a larger location that can house up to 70 boys.

photo for news story, African Sisters Education Collaborative

Sr. Catherine Wanza did not go through the ASEC program personally. She was mentored by Sr. Anisia Kitaka, LSOSF, who graduated from our SLDI programm (Administration Track, 2009). Sr. Catherine reported being mentored by Sr. Anisia, a member of her congregation, on an almost-daily basis for two years. She said she learned skills in management, reporting, project writing and curriculum development. Sr. Catherine has shared her knowledge with others through the mentorship of other sisters and even the boys in Ukweli Home. In fact, some of the boys are trained to serve as mentors for the other boys. Sr. Catherine added that as a result of Sr. Anisia's mentorship, she was able to take risks, has less stress and feels more organized.

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ASEC’s mission to provide an education to African religious sisters is only possible with the help from grants and donations from people like you. By supporting a sister, just like Sr. Catherine, you are supporting the street children of Kenya, who need a place to call home.

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This article is addressing the following UN Sustainable Development Goal(s):

End poverty in all its forms everywhere End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture Ensure access to water and sanitation for all Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all Reduce inequality within and among countries Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns


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SLDI Mentee - Kenya  

Amy Fedele


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