Rafiki Mwema is a refuge for Kenyan girls and boys. Our girls, who are survivors of sexual violence, live with us for protection and care while their cases go through the courts. Due to cultural attitudes that place the blame on the victim, it’s not safe for them to remain living in their villages and communities where they are at risk of further harm.
Our boys come to us after surviving the horrors of living alone on the streets. These boys have been beaten, abused and used as sexual objects by both men and women. Their trust has been violated over and over, and they are some of the most complex and damaged children we have met.
While living with us, our children receive expert therapeutic care to help them recover from their trauma.
A safe, loving family
We believe that the best place for children is within a safe, nurturing and loving family environment. When it’s safe to do so, we find our children safe, loving homes to return to within their immediate family, or with a relative or guardian. It’s only when no safe home in the community can be found that our children remain living with us.
Our outreach program is critical to ensuring our children’s safety and wellbeing until adulthood. Our team achieves this by:
- Regularly visiting our girls who have returned home
- Reconnecting our boys with their families
- Advocating for our children’s right to loving care and safety
Our outreach team does all they can to trace family members when our boys express a wish to reconnect. Once we find them, our team assesses how safe it is for our boys to have contact. We then work hard to rebuild relationships, starting with visits or telephone calls. Developing a healthy connection with their families contributes to the healing process for our boys. It helps them repair their sense of belonging and identity, and begin to trust again.
In the community
It’s our mission to change hearts and minds, and remove the stigma of sexual violence that tragically is far too common in Kenya. We build rapport and trust with families, schools, villages and government officials to break the cycle of abuse. The families of our Rafiki children have grown to welcome our outreach team and receive us with less suspicion than ever thought possible during home visits. We become part of the community over time, and together, we share our hopes for the wellbeing of every Rafiki child.
No matter how far away our children live, we are there for them. We travel any way we can - matatu, tuktuk, motorbike, bicycle and by foot, even when it means walking for miles. We make both scheduled and unannounced visits, and it gives us the chance to intervene when our children are at risk of further violence and neglect.
Growing our team
Our four-person team is kept very busy! We visit more than 180 children who have moved back into the community and as this number grows, we’re becoming increasingly stretched. We'd love to grow our team to ease the workload of these home visits, and we’d also like to hire a trained therapist to work with communities to:
- Raise awareness about the harm of sexual violence
- Promote the need to report suspected abuse and neglect
- Champion the rights of children to live in safety and innocence
We repair broken minds and hearts by reconnecting families and
supporting them as they learn to build healthy relationships.