All stories must start somewhere, and for us that moment was when Africa stole the heart of Sarah Rosborg. Since becoming a driving force behind Rafiki Mwema in 2013, our co-founder has literally transformed the lives of countless children in Kenya. Sarah has helped them escape cruel and inhumane circumstances and provided them with a safe home in addition to the love and support they deserve. The effects of her dedication will be felt through generations, but whatever you do, don’t call her an inspiration. In her eyes, there is no other path, it isn’t a choice. Sarah is a phenomenal small town girl with a big heart, who will never, ever turn her back.
A lifelong love of Africa
Sarah’s connection to Africa started at a young age. Her mother would make things to send to less fortunate families living there, sparking Sarah’s curiosity and desire to visit the distant continent. In 2005, an opportunity arose for Sarah to travel to Africa and assist a family friend who was starting a children’s home in Kenya. Her mother hesitated before telling her about the volunteer position. She knew that once she went, Sarah’s heart would be stolen – and she was right. Sarah quickly fell in love with the people and culture. Yet she was simultaneously overwhelmed by the poverty and inequity she witnessed. Sarah knew she had found her place and would be back.
An unexpected turn
Sarah left Africa to continue her travels, heading to LA in preparation to begin a job on a cruise ship. But exactly one week after her departure, Sarah’s life took an unexpected turn. As she road tripped between Vegas and LA with some friends, she was involved in a severe car accident. The car Sarah was travelling in took a corner too fast. It flipped and rolled several times, throwing Sarah from the back window on the fifth roll. Sarah suffered horrific injuries, breaking her femur, hip, pelvis, foot and sacroiliac joint. She tore ligaments and was covered in road rash. It was incredible that she survived given the car landed right next to her after its final flip.
Returning home to begin rehabilitation, Sarah’s thoughts kept coming back to the Kenyan children she had met. In the midst of her own personal struggles, she was consumed by the knowledge she had to help. So she taught herself graphic and website design (and also started her own business – Castle Design) and used these skills to raise funds and awareness for the charity she had volunteered with.
Enter Rafiki Mwema
In 2013 Sarah was approached by a contact in Kenya and asked to help raise funds for Rafiki Mwema, who at the time was facing the prospect of having to close down.
“The thought of the doors closing was too much for my brain to handle especially since I had a little girl of my own and knew the stories of every one of those girls. The thought of them going anywhere but Rafiki Mwema (and most likely back to being abused) was excruciating.”
“So I put a call out to my friends, family and Castle Design community to donate items for an online auction. I wanted to raise $10K to keep the house open for at least two more months. The support I received was amazing and after a lot of hard work $17K was raised. I was thrilled with this result but the three months of operational costs that money covered passed quickly and I was worried out of my brain. I spoke with some of my good friends and mentioned I was considering starting an Australian branch of Rafiki Mwema. They said they would help however they could and with that bend of my rubber arm WE DID IT.”
“It went gang busters from there: we had sponsors for all of the girls in around three months and we gained a wonderful, caring community on Facebook with lots of offers to help from all around the world. We’ve established Rafiki Mwema Australia to be fully supporting the girls’ home in Kenya and all that comes with it. They are safe and have no risk of closing down.”
Rafiki Mwema today
Since then, Sarah has worked tirelessly, growing Rafiki Mwema, from one rental property housing 25 children to purchasing Doyle Farm, which is now home to 70 children. It is a place where we can provide a safe, loving and therapeutic environment for our children. Here we provide ongoing therapy to work through the trauma these children have experienced. In doing so we hope to break the cycle of abuse.
Our long term goal is to reconnect our children with their families and return them home where it’s safe to do so. As a result, we have over 130 children who have left our farm and returned to their community. Through our Outreach Program, we check on each of these children until they are 18 years old. This is to ensure they are safe from repeated sexual offences, they have enough food and they are in school. This is a huge job and requires our Outreach team to work seven days a week.
In addition to this, Rafiki Mwema now feeds 100 children each day through the Rafiki Feeding Program aka Rafiki Mtaani. This is an opportunity for our local staff to connect with, care for and support the children who are living on the streets of our community. It is a great way to maximise the resources we do have and help on a larger scale.
We also seek to provide a sustainable future for our children beyond their time with us through our Rafiki Social Program.
A full list of achievements and Rafiki Mwema milestones can be found HERE.
Our heartfelt thanks go out to Sarah Rosborg for her unwavering dedication and hard work.
If you would like to support the work of Rafiki Mwema, we are always on the look out for volunteers. Spread across the globe, our team of volunteers work together remotely, using their expertise to enact change. This flexibility means anyone can join us regardless of location and circumstance. For more information visit us HERE.