Christine Munyi started a children’s home after watching her friend succumb to HIV/Aids. She started off by volunteering in a slum before setting up a facility that offers hope to those orphaned by the disease
Evelyn Makena @evemake_g
Christine Munyi, founder Hope for Orphans Rescue and Educational Centre (Horec) children’s home had spent most of her life working as a secretary and later left work to run a salon.
Losing a close friend to HIV/Aids in 2003, changed the trajectory of Christine Munyi’s life and helped her rediscover herself and embark on a journey that would transform the lives of children infected and affected by HIV/Aids.
Tell me more about the children’s home
Horec children’s home was started in 2003. Currently, there are 45 children at the home situated in Ruai. We take care of children infected with HIV/Aids and others who are affected by the disease.
Most of the children have lost their parents to the disease and are left under the care of their grandparents or guardians who may not be in a position to accord them the delicate care they require.
What inspired you to start the home?
One of my close friends had been ill for some time and passed on in 2003. All along, we did not exactly know what she was ailing from until I spoke to Asunta Wagura, founder Kenya Network of Women with Aids, who identified the symptoms as those of HIV/Aids.
We realised my friend’s condition when it was too late.
Asunta noted that had I notified her about my friend’s condition earlier she would have helped find the drugs and probably she would have been saved. I felt responsible for my friend’s death. Losing her also inspired me to help other people who were suffering from the disease.
What kind of help did you offer to these children?
In 2004, I closed down my salon and requested Asunta to train me on how to take care of those infected with HIV. With her support, I started volunteering my services in Kiambiyu slums in Nairobi to the ailing in the community. So many people were infected with the virus and were in critical conditions due to lack of medication.
The number of children infected at birth or orphaned by HIV was growing. Working in the slums made me realise the extent of abuse and neglect the orphaned children underwent in the hands of guardians. I took some children to my house and later rented a house for them in Ruai until a well-wisher donated money to buy an acre of land in 2007 where the home is built.
How do you identify the children that you admit?
We identify most of them through referrals by people who know about our work. Other children are brought by hospitals when their parents pass away. We also work with the children’s department and community health workers to identify such children and bring them to the home.
At the home, we provide a shelter, a balanced diet, access to education and anti-retroviral drugs for those who are infected. Those of school-going age are enrolled in a nearby primary school, where most are under a scholarship and others are in secondary schools. When they get to high school, we reintegrate most with their guardians, but still, take care of them.
How do you sustain the day to day needs of the home?
I solely rely on well-wishers to run the home. Sometimes I get the supplies to take care of the children, other times I don’t. The land where the home is was for instance bought by a well-wisher and the dormitory where the children sleep constructed under the sponsorship of Barclays Bank.
Liquid Telecom is another corporate that has been supporting us. Overall, people have given generously to this home and made the day to day running of the home possible. My husband and our family have particularly been supportive in running the home.
Since we rely on well-wishers, there are days when we have supplies and other times when we do not. Children living with HIV need a balanced diet, which is not always assured due.