Television shows like “Secret Millionaire” and “Undercover Boss” have reminded us of the biblical charge to treat people well because we could be entertaining angels. All of these things remind us that you just never know who you are interacting with.
Three years ago, when I started working with Catherine Wanjira Mungai, I had absolutely no idea that 1.) we would become such great “sister-friends” or 2.) that she was a business/ministry force to be reckoned with. It turned out that Catherine’s family operates a foundation that provides housing and education for vulnerable children in Kenya. As I’ve gotten to know more about Catherine, I’ve discovered that her entire family is a force to be reckoned with. They are a group of extremely intelligent and compassionate people. (I’ve also been introduced to Kenyan tea and a fried dough delicious piece of Heaven known as mandazi…but that’s a different story!)
Today, I made a $50 donation to the CWMF as a part of my ongoing Lenten personal giving intiative. (Read about it here.) Grab some Kenyan tea and a mandazi, get comfortable and get to know the Caroline Wambui Mungai Foundation through my interview with Catherine and her parents, George and Anne Mungai.
The Foundation was established in December 2004 within days of the departure of Caroline [our daughter/sister]. The purpose of the Foundation was and continues to be enhancing Caroline’s love for children and her dream to start a children’s Home and School for orphans and destitute children. The vision was founded on a vision that ushers needy children from poverty to destiny with love. On January 10th, 2005, the first orphan was accepted at the CWM Children’s Home in Wangige, Kenya. The Home-School was initially housed in a vacant four-bedroom house on a 3-acre property that we [Mungai family] donated for this cause. Within three years the number of children [aged from 2.5 to 4 years] reached 40. Based on the pressing and mounting needs, it was decided that no more children would be accepted until all the infrastructure and staff were in place and adequate flow of resources [financial, etc] were forthcoming.
The Foundation reached several projected milestones in the first three years. Foremost, a deep [600 feet] water well was drilled to provide permanent and reliable water supply. A two-classroom Kindergarten with two-rooms for office space was completed while construction of a residential building was initiated. The latter has now been completed to the second of the projected three levels. The forty children have since moved into the residence where they are taken care of by three resident mothers. The third level of the facility awaits funds to be completed.
The orphans are getting their education at the Home-School. All of them started their first day of class at the Home. Based on their age when they arrived, six of them have reached grade six while the rest are between first and fifth grade.
Construction of classrooms has been done as needed. Although our desire was to have all the classrooms completed simultaneously, resource limitations have forced us to adapt by using existing buildings as teaching facilities. The school wing of the Home has two complete classrooms. Plans are under way to initiate construction of the remaining classrooms.
The Foundation has engaged 14 workers [including five teachers] that work full time at the Home-School.
One of the youngest kids to come to the Home is Anne Wambui. This girl was deserted outside a supermarket for three days. Her mother [whom she does not recollect] abandoned her and left her to fend for herself at the age of 2.5 years. She was sent to the Home by the Kenya police. The funniest twist about this girl is that she must have been born about the time Caroline departed form us. All she could remember was her name [Anne] which is my mom’s name [Anne Mungai]. We decided to name her WAMBUI [for obvious reasons]. It turned out when we went to the Home and met her for the first time, she became very attached to us and she claims and declares that she is “special”. Last summer Anne, in her true spirit of joy and exuberance was nicknamed “the drama queen” by one of the visitors for her spontaneous dancing and inclination to entertain.
Is there a current program or initiative that you would like to highlight at this time?
The on-going program includes three major undertakings. Foremost is the completion of construction of the school buildings including an office facility. Blueprints have been approved by the local government. Secondly, completion of the third level of the residential building and a semi completed kitchen-dining hall are pending completion. Thirdly, the Foundation decided to invite children from the local community as paying day students. It is expected that these students will provide a financial flow but most important, they will help our children identify and socialize with ordinary children alleviating the orphan stigma [a socially beneficial need]. In order to get children from a bigger radius, the Home-School needs suitable and reliable transportation.
It is anticipated that the first six children will join high school in two years and thereafter others will follow suit. Sound high school education is a pre-requisite for University admission. We will need sponsors for the children’s high school cost and beyond. This is the biggest responsibility because if we fail to provide a good education, our efforts to provide a destiny for these children will have fallen short.
What are some ways that the following groups can get involved with CWMF: college students, families, religious groups (church, temple, mosque, etc.)?
The quality of upkeep and sustenance that we provide has worn many visitor’s hearts. We have received many visitors from around the world who speak very highly of our services to the orphans and destitute children.
College students can volunteer at the Home which counts for community services overseas.
Families can sponsor the children’s education and upkeep [see brochures], volunteer at the Home and provide donations in monetary form or in kind. Religious groups and other organizations can sponsor construction of remaining buildings and help provide the wish list cited above [transportation, high school education, etc].
Anything else you’d like people to know?
The Foundation’s vision is to establish the current Home-School as a model that can be replicated elsewhere in Kenya or in other nations where there is need. We hope that we can fully complete this first project and embark on the next one whenever resources become available.
Up to the present we have depended on donations from friends of the Foundation. Our desire is to identify substantial donations from other Foundations or organizations that boost us to pursue our vision.