Kenya's Vulnerable Children: A Chance for Brighter Futures

A young Kenyan man sitting in front of a wall
Despite his humble background, Rotim Murage is attending Moi University.
USAID
Orphans, other youth in jeopardy find hope and safe havens
“I am super excited and cannot wait to start my career journey. I would like to advance my education because my dream is to become a civil engineer one day.”

April 2014—Seven years ago, Rotim Murage was apprehensive about his future. He had just sat for his Kenya Certificate of Primary Education, an intensive four-day exam that determines which students are eligible to attend a government high school. Due to limited places, those that score low marks are not able to attend a government high school, which are much cheaper than private options.

Murage scored 317 out of 700. He did not get accepted to a government high school and could not afford to attend a private one either.

His father died when he was barely 1 year old, and his mother was chronically ill and unable to provide for the family.

There are approximately 2.6 million orphans and vulnerable children in Kenya. These children have either been orphaned or are in a situation where their safety, well-being and development are threatened. Children can be left vulnerable due to the illness of a parent or by a wide variety of other factors such as unemployment and poverty, insecurity, abuse or abandonment. HIV/AIDS has had a devastating impact on children in Kenya—leaving an estimated 1.1 million children orphaned.

Providing care and support for these children is a major challenge as the growing numbers often overwhelm available resources. Many are susceptible to different forms of abuse and exploitation due to their vulnerable circumstances. 

Life wasn’t easy for Murage, and his outlook was dim. Since his mother was unable to work, none of his five siblings completed formal education. He doubted he ever would either.

But hope came knocking in the form of Shepherds of Life, a local faith-based organization supported by USAID that enrolled Murage in their orphans and vulnerable children’s program in 2008. They provided him with food and a place to sleep. They also paid his high school fees and monitored his performance to ensure he was on track.

Murage graduated in 2012 with a B+ and was accepted to Moi University in October 2013.  

“I am super excited and cannot wait to start my career journey. I would like to advance my education because my dream is to become a civil engineer one day,” Murage said.

USAID partners with local organizations across Kenya to provide care for over 658,000 orphans and vulnerable children. The Agency provides various support services for orphans and vulnerable children and their households, including scholarships; food assistance; nutrition and health services; shelter; and psychosocial support to promote all around growth and development. Caregivers are also provided skills training so they are able to meet the basic needs of these children on their own.

Children need quality care to thrive and transition into responsible adulthood. Through this support, young people like Murage can see a brighter future ahead.

For over 10 years, USAID's health programs have supported activities that impact the lives of orphans and vulnerable children in Kenya. The ongoing support is coordinated with the Government of Kenya and other development partners to provide quallity services to these children and their families.

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Last updated: April 30, 2014

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