Real stories from Lewa Children's Home 13th August 2018 The Lewa Children’s Home in Eldoret, Kenya, is a magical place that touches the heart and souls of anyone lucky enough to visit. Here, you will hear the stories of some of the children, as they tell us what Lewa has meant for them. Some of the most hopeless beginnings sometimes turn into happy stories In Kenya, out of a population of 49 million, 2.6 million are orphaned children (nearly 5%), with 300 more orphans being created each day. This is the result of HIV/AIDS and/or political unrest and violence. The Lewa Children’s Home in Eldoret was founded by Phyllis Keino over 3 decades ago so that these orphans and vulnerable children would have a place to call "home". As the Home became established, Phyllis set up a primary school: the KipKeino School, to give children a first-class education, and a future in life. The school is now one of the best primary schools in the region, enabling the children to go on to join prestigious local and national secondary schools. "I want to be a doctor" This is 15-year-old Jackson*'s ambition, as he tells his story. “I was only two years old, when I was abandoned, along with my older brother and sister. We were all admitted to Lewa Children’s Home, where I started at Nursery School when I was four. After three years, I moved up to KipKeino Primary School, where I studied hard, and my high scores (399/500) meant I got into a good high school, where I am now. “I want to be a doctor when I grow up, as they are needed in hospitals in Kenya and other countries. Do you know that in Zimbabwe, there is only one doctor to 50,000 patients?” “I love being here – we play in a clean field, and have a clean place to sleep” This is how 12-year-old Suzie* describes her time at Lewa, but it wasn’t always that easy. “I was abandoned when I was seven years old, along with my twin siblings”, she says. “First we were at a Teaching and Referral Hospital, then we came here. I am happy, we are well fed every day, eat a balanced diet, and are given clothes and shoes, and have cupboards to put them in. I love being here. We are treated fairly. We have a clean place to sleep, and in the morning when we wake up we are well, and there are toilets. I attended the Nursery School, and then I went up to Primary School. I cannot remember my/ family but I know my home is Lewa Children’s Home. Life here in Lewa is cool, and I love being here”. Suzie would also like to become a doctor, “because I want to treat those who are sick, so they can enjoy their life again”. Martin’s story Little Martin* came to Lewa when he was only a few months only. When he was very young, his father took him to a hospital, as he was suffering from pneumonia. While he was there, doctors discovered a hole in his heart, and sadly, his parents couldn’t cope and disappeared without a trace. Luckily for Martin, he was taken to the Lewa Children’s Home, where he now lives. After several more hospital visits, his heart recovered, and the other symptoms, which were the result of being so malnourished, subsided. When he first arrived at Lewa, he would only whisper a few words in Swahili; he wouldn’t play with the other children and wanted people to hold him all the time to feel loved. After a year at the Lewa Children’s Home, he started to talk and play with the other children and to attend the nursery. Now, 4 years later, he is a pupil at KipKeino Primary School, and has blossomed both physically and emotionally. Home is where the heart is Lina* was born with physically-deformed legs and hands and was abandoned when she was just one year old. By the time she was found, she was also suffering from malnourishment, pneumonia, and sickle cell anaemia. After being brought to Lewa Children’s Home, she was nursed back to health and received healthcare to help ease her pain, but was also discovered to be deaf and mute. This may sound like an impossible task to confront, but thanks to the unconditional love of Phyllis Keino and the staff at Lewa, she received healthcare to enable her to survive and lead as normal a life as possible, and more importantly, received the love that she so desperately needed to flourish. Sheba was temporarily enrolled at the Kipkeino School with the other Lewa children. More recently, she started going to a special school for the hearing impaired. She comes back every school term, which is her home and her family. *Some of the children's name or images were changed to protect their privacy.