Frequently Asked Questions
You might see a lot of photos with our children playing, swimming, dancing and there is a really good reason for that!
There are so many benefits!
Exercise increases the flow of blood to the brain. The blood delivers oxygen and glucose, which the brain needs for heightened alertness and mental focus. Because of this, exercise makes it easier for children to learn.
It is well known that stress damages children’s brains. Exercise reduces stress by balance of the body’s chemistry. Its effect is similar to taking anti-depressant medications.
It improves your mental wellbeing, alertness, relationships, leadership qualities – no wonder sports will live long in our houses – and it’s fun!
Our founder earns zero despite multiple trips to Kenya to deliver training, supervision, therapeutic support, as well as daily contact around the upkeep and running of the charity.
Our CEO earns less than the minimum wage for a 35 hour week, but works around 80 hours each week.
In Play Therapy children have an opportunity to understand their lives through play. By using various media (sand, paint, small world play, puppets, clay, music, drama, storytelling and movement) children begin to understand muddled feelings and upsetting events that they haven’t had the chance to sort out properly. Rather than having to explain what is troubling them, as adult therapy usually expects, children use play to communicate at their own level and at their own pace.
Play is vital to every child’s social, emotional, cognitive, physical, creative and language development. It helps all children and young people including those for whom verbal communication may be difficult.
Play Therapy can help children in a variety of ways. Children receive emotional support and can learn to understand more about their own feelings and thoughts. Sometimes they may re-enact or play out traumatic or difficult life experiences in order to make sense of their past and cope better with their future. Children may also learn to manage relationships and conflicts in more appropriate ways.
Drawn from Van Fleet. R. (2000). ‘A parent’s handbook of filial play therapy, Boiling Springs, PA: Play Therapy Press.
More and more, people are realizing the power of play and humour in promoting positive relationships and mental health. This is a family intervention that is designed to strengthen families through the use of play. It is called filial therapy, and it can be used by families who wish to strengthen their relationships, or it can be used by therapists working with families who are experiencing difficulties. In filial therapy the parents are true partners with the therapist in bringing about positive changes in their family’s life.
To use this process in Kenya we have adapted it slightly to involve the children’s’ carers in ‘loco-parentis’.
In filial therapy, under the therapist’s guidance, the carer learns to conduct a special type of play session with the children in their care. The carers are considered true partners in the entire therapeutic process. Play Kenya has adapted the several advantages to parents being the ones to conduct the play sessions with their own children to ensure that the relationship is built with the carer with whom the child has the best relationship
- Carers have an intimate relationship with their children and already know their children better than a therapist would.
- Carers are very capable of learning to conduct these special play sessions.
- Carers are the most important people in their children’s lives. This method of strengthening the family capitalizes on this fact, and children need not develop a whole new relationship with a therapist.
- When carers are involved in play therapy as they are in filial therapy, the changes are usually positive and long lasting.
- When involved in filial therapy, carers usually learn how to understand their children better through their play. This understanding can help parents as they make childrearing decisions.
Filial therapy strengthens the parent-child relationship directly, and everyone in the family benefits. Usually children and parents alike really enjoy their special play sessions together, and using play to help children with their feelings and problems can make the change process easier for everyone.
This approach is more efficient. As parents learn to do this, they can eventually hold these play sessions at home. The therapist teaches and guides the parents, but eventually they hold these play sessions independently, ultimately reducing the number of therapy sessions neede
This type of family-oriented play therapy is relatively short-term, but it does require some commitment and work on the part of the parents. Most parents report that this effort is well worth it in terms of the positive outcomes they’ve experienced.
Filial therapy has been around for quite some time–since the early 60s, in fact, when Drs. Bernard & Louise Guerney developed it–but it has really been growing in popularity among parents and therapists during recent years. The primary reason for this is that it works. There has been a great deal of research and clinical experience with filial therapy done over the past 40 years, and those studies show that it consistently helps reduce children’s problem behaviours, helps parents to feel less stressed and more confident, and improves the understanding parents have for their children.
(The term “filial therapy” comes from the Latin words meaning “son” or “daughter” and essentially refers to the parent-child relationship.)
Our aim at Rafiki Mwema is to provide a therapeutic safe house for badly abused girls to help them make sense of what they have been through. We support them through all medical treatments, the court system and therapy with the ultimate goal of returning them to a safe and loving environment when they are ready.
Once we are satisfied the girls are doing well in the house, accessing what they need from their therapy and able to concentrate and learn in school, we have a meeting about them moving home.
A lot depends on their individual home situations and whether they have a caring, loving family to return to.
We always veer on the side of caution but have tragically learned that we cannot anticipate all variables.
When the girl’s key worker, our social worker and the rest of the Rafiki Mwema household are satisfied that the girls are ready to move home we begin a 12 week step down program and this is when we will contact the girl’s sponsors to let them know what is happening.
During this 12 week period our outreach team will visit and work closely with parents and/or family members to train them in our Attachment Play Program (APP). Our outreach team will work with schools, churches and village elders to ensure they understand the impact of the girls’ situations and help educate them around the subject of sexual abuse.
We then invite the parents to come to the house for one day a week (staying in our volunteer accommodation if they live a long distance away) and they participate in the APP sessions with their daughter. Only when we have observed their sessions and can see they are being conducted in a safe manner we are and are satisfied that they are responding to their parent will they take their daughter home.
Children are aware from the beginning of the 12-week step down program that they and we are working towards them being able to return home to a safe and loving environment.
On the night before they leave, we have a celebration for them where all the staff and girls say goodbye. This can be a very emotional time but is a very important part of the process.
Our Outreach team and the girl’s key worker (All girls have a key worker who delivers their APP and is the person they attend all court hospital and other appointments. The girls go to their key worker if they have any worries or joys to share) and as many staff as are able accompany the girl to their home to hand them over. We will visit the home twice a week and telephone daily for 4 weeks (or longer if needed). She then scales down her visits over the next 4 weeks to once a week and then fortnightly, 3 weekly and then monthly.
We visit all our girls monthly unless they live in the remote villages where we cannot get our transport to. This is unfortunately where we have experienced two sad stories.
(Even after our step down programme and all our follow ups which were still on-going one of our little ones was raped by her father. He had never shown us any worries or concerns and this little girl was previously raped by a neighbour. Heartbreaking.)
We will keep in telephone contact forever really and we find that the families come to think of her as part of their lives, in a very positive way.
Every conceivable care is taken for the girls when they leave Rafiki Mwema but even then there are times that we are reminded just how much stigma can be attached to our little girls and the consequences of their abuse.
This is why we NEVER stop being involved in their lives. We look to the day when we can guarantee their safety and have them therapeutically educated with us until they are 18 – a new generation of strong, able young women.
Our children at Rafiki Mwema love receiving mail and we welcome you to write to your sponsor child.
Not all of our sponsors have time to write and send letters, which is understandable. However, we don’t want some children to be over-loved with letters and parcels and others to receive nothing, so we suggest you send things that your child can share with the others… such as, stickers & books or art and craft material. Also, our boys are big fans of soccer.. Arsenal!! so they love football pictures, cards, magazines, and USBs with movies, songs and things they can enjoy.
We do ask that you don’t mention that you would like to visit ‘one day’ as the children believe that means someone will visit soon and we don’t want them to be disappointed.
We recommend that you keep the package/letter small and only send plain packaging (so it doesn’t look too exciting to steal!). Also please remember that if the parcel is too big Rafiki Mwema gets charged on the other end to collect the parcel (if it cannot fit in PO box) and this can often cost far more than the item is worth. We suggest no larger than an A5 size envelope like the example below.
In all cases please make sure the item is marked as having “no value” to ensure it makes it to Rafiki and puts a smile on the kids' faces.
I am sure that writing back to these letters will give them just as much joy, and as much as we would like to facilitate this we currently do not have the funds or resources to do so with all of our donations currently going to providing the essentials and more importantly the ongoing therapy to rebuild the children’s trust and their futures.
The staff at Rafiki Mwema will help the children read the letters and any stickers, craft items etc will be shared around. While they speak the local language, Swahili they are also learning English at the house and this program will be an educational tool. Who would have thought so much goodness could come from writing a letter!!
Our address is:
Rafiki Girls/Rafiki Boys
PO Box 4298
Kenya East Africa
As always, please contact us if you have any questions at all. Thank you for your support.
By becoming a sponsor you will be making a lifetime difference to some of the most vulnerable children.
The support for our children is lifelong and complex. It also can change from moment to moment. We employ and continually train the right staff to work with traumatized young people. It is so much more than a traditional home or orphanage. This comes at a cost and we are therefore aware that we need to not ‘cap’ these opportunities for our children’s emotional healing. Because of this we do not have a set number of sponsors for each child. Instead our sponsors are sponsoring our family as a whole and will receive a yearly photo of their child. We know you will understand this need and thank you so much for supporting our amazing children.
Sponsorship will cost you $50AUD per month and your valued donation will assist us in supporting ALL of our children with all expenses across our entire charity.
Firstly, you rock! Thanks so much for expressing an interest in helping Rafiki Mwema here in Australia.
Everyone involved in this charity is a volunteer who is passionate about helping others, and the fact that you’ve found this page is proof that you too want to make a difference to the lives of vulnerable girls and boys in Kenya.
Our team is always looking for motivated individuals to help with our wonderful charity here in Australia. While we don’t have specific jobs to fill as such, there is a whole range of projects and tasks that we need your help with, in order to keep our charity moving forward and raising money.
Obviously, we can’t pay you, but the joy you’ll get from knowing you are making a difference to the lives of dozens of young children who would otherwise have an uncertain future will be payment enough, trust us.
If you’re interested in becoming a valued member of Rafiki Mwema then we want you! To help us find a position or role where you can thrive and put your incredible skills to good use, we’d love you to fill out the form over here in as much detail as you can.
Remember, don’t be modest, we’ve all got talents and we’re excited about helping you unlock and use yours to help provide a safe and happy future for disadvantaged children in Kenya.
Tell us how you want to help and we’ll find a way to make it happen!
Thank you for your interest in helping us at Rafiki Mwema with the help of your business!
They say ‘it takes a village’ and we completely agree! Our team of busy ‘Meerkats’ are an essential part in the foundation and day to day operations of Rafiki. Best suited to small businesses.
If you are a business interested in donating a portion of your sales to Rafiki, we say go for it! This is a great way to raise funds, awareness and start conversation.
In order to become a Business Buddy we require that you register your interest with us, outlining your goal and how you aim to reach it. Once you have hit a minimum fundraising target of $500 we will promote your initiative to our engaged audience through our online channels, giving you that extra fundraising boost!
Find the form to fill in over here and please let us know if you have any questions at all. Thanks once again
Rafiki Mwema are committed to understanding and repairing the intense trauma our children have experienced. Through Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP), a therapeutic parenting model, we help our children make sense of their past, train and develop our Kenyan staff to ensure our children receive the very best therapeutic care and support and educate the local communities, schools and government officials to understand the impact of childhood abuse. We provide support and information of this specialised therapeutic model to service providers globally.
All volunteers at Rafiki Mwema must have a current police check and Working With Children Card, blue card or the equivalent. No volunteer to Rafiki Mwema would not be left unattended with the children at any time. This helps ensure the safety of all of our children at all times.
To protect their privacy and confidentiality, volunteers and visitors should not discuss the children’s trauma histories without express permission of the Rafiki Mwema staff. Full details of the children’s trauma may not be disclosed if it is deemed not necessary in order to work and live around the children. When discussing the children’s stories online, their real names are never used. If an accompanying photo is used, it will never match the story being discussed. These measures help to ensure that the child’s safety and confidentiality is protected.
Rafiki Mwema is not a religious based organisation. However, many of our Kenyan staff identify as Christian, and this is the dominant religion in Kenya. It is important that we continue to support the children’s beliefs and ensure that they are able to attend a church if they wish to do so. Other children may also choose to accompany them or their key worker to church.
It is Rafiki Mwema’s vision that through the repair of the physical and psychological damage inflicted on them, we can support our children to become emotionally connected, caring and empowered young people and adolescents and support our future men to break the cycle of abuse by becoming safe, loving, kind partners, fathers, uncles who respect our empowered young women.
Yes of course! We are partnered with a wonderful Safari Company called Bora Kesho Safaris. They help our community with some of their profits. Check Bora Kesho Safaris out over here.
We appreciate the desire to get involved and help the children at Rafiki Mwema, however, we don’t accept visitors or volunteers at Rafiki Mwema as a matter of safety for our children. People coming in and out of their lives, no matter how well meaning, is not always as beneficial as people may hope. Our children require continuity of care and routine which is provided beautifully by our local staff. Any disruption to this can create setbacks in their emotional progress and healing process.
There are many other meaningful ways you can support Rafiki Mwema and our children. For a fraction of the cost of a trip to Kenya, you can make a one time donation to our running costs, or organise a fundraiser in your home town. On a longer term basis you can sponsor one or more of our children to ensure they have all they need day to day. If that cost is prohibitive you can sponsor our outreach team who continue to monitor and keep our children safe if they are able to return to their family for as little as $5 per month.
Our children love receiving mail, feel very welcome to send small packages, or letters, just to make contact or even encourage local school groups to write to our children.
Rafiki Mwema has a wonderful safari company, Bora Kesho Safaris, with whom we partner. If you are coming to Kenya and would care to go on safari we recommend you get in touch with Bora Kesho Safaris and experience all of the magic that the Kenyan wildlife has to offer with our trusted friends.
Thanks for your enquiry,