On Monday this week, the Social Impact Society was honoured to welcome Celeste Shirvani, the Chair of Nyumbani UK, and Roger and Kate Gill, the ‘academic masterminds’ behind many of the charity’s ventures.
Nyumbani Village is not only significant as the first bio-friendly Kenyan village, but one which provides a safe haven for those who have lost family members to HIV and AIDS. Prior to 2004, Kenyan children who tested positive for HIV were banned from attending schools. Nyumbani sought to change that and the legal victory resulted in the creation of an inspirational environment where HIV and AIDS orphans can live in liberty and contentment.
The word ‘Nyumbani’ itself translates as ‘home’ in Swahili, and the village is located in the suburbs of Nairobi where community outreach can thrive. The charity is instrumental in welfare and support of the disadvantaged families through the Lea Toto Project, providing counselling, support and access to antiretroviral drugs.
The importance of effective and enriching local education cannot be understated. Nyumbani is home to three educational institutions: Hotcourses Primary School, a vocational training centre, and the Lawson High School. In an environment where many orphans are cared for primarily by a single ‘susu’ or grandmother, the essence of familial friendship is key.
Mr Gill explained the substantial effect such educational institutions have in shaping the character of those living in Nyumbani Village. In an environment where the primary connection to the outside world is through televised football, the schools and technical college instil a powerful sense of identity in the local youth that encourages them to fulfil their dreams.
On behalf of the Social Impact Society, we would like to sincerely thank Ms Shirvani, and Mr and Mrs Gill for coming and sharing with us that gem in the wilderness that is Nyumbani.