Eunice Menja is a young lady who has gone beyond her reach to bring up many children. She is a mother of two girls and lives in the United States of America. She runs a children home in Kenya, Murang’a county, called Upendo Children’s Home. Here is our conversation with her:
EP: Where did you get the inspiration to start Upendo Kids?
I think my childhood experience played a huge role in making me see the needs of others as important and urgent. I was a Sunday school teacher you know, and the goodbye party with hundreds of kids surrounding me with other teachers beside me saying, “teacher Eunice never forget us”. That stuck with me as I left Kenya for the United States of America.
EP: How many children do you currently hold at the premises?
45 children and one more 9-year-old boy who is being processed for rescue. We never say NO to kids who are suffering because that is always the last hope for them. It is either that or end up in the streets with glue.
We have 15 in high school and the rest in Primary school. It is a huge undertaking, but GOD!
EP: What are the ranges of the children’s ages?
4yrs to 19yrs almost 20. I know. You might wonder why we have such old kids in a home, but where shouldn’t they be? They came to us when they were already too old, started their schooling late and they are still in High school. They are not ashamed to go to school late. All they want is a way out of the poverty sequence.
EP:What are some of the challenges that you have faced in the management of the home?
Government! We have unsupportive government in Kenya. They treat us like we are fault. I get very emotional when I talk about this because I have rescued children in America. Those who rescue American children are treated with dignity. The American government supports the poor and needy children. The neglected children in shelters etc. Our Kenyan government is different. They call you when they don’t know where to take a child who is at risk of death. Once you rescue that child, the next time you see the government is when they are fiercely knocking on your doors to look for fault. We feed the kids, we educate them, we shelter them, we take care of their medical bills without government help. If you need bursury, you beg like anyone else. That is the biggest challenge.
The other challenge is trying to determine the neediest child. There are so many needs in this country. The children have been left to fend for themselves and all cases are unique, some are life threatening, but yet you can only rescue too many because of the limited resources. It is hard to turn away a child who is in need.
EP:Would you say that you have received support of the surrounding community in bringing up the children or is it a role solely left to your management?
Partly yes, the community has been very supportive. When we operated from Juja, JKUAT community and other people came to visit us a lot. They worked to help us serve the children. We have moved to a remote community in Murang’a. Our neighboring community has plenty of their own issues including alcoholism. A few have embraced our presence in their community and have brought whatever little help they can.
However, we can never rely on the community 100%. My work is to find constant supply of resources and make sure that we have enough to sustain the home 24/7. The food prices have gone high, utility bills as well. We just have to stay on top of every need that arises.
EP:You recently moved to a different locality, how are the children responding to the change?
The kids love our new place- Upendo Kids Village. It is spacious for everyone. A playground, and plenty of room for sleeping. We have farm animals and we are using farming to teach them new skills. They say that they would never want to go back to the “tiny place”.
EP: How do you ensure that the children are disciplined considering that they entirely come from different backgrounds and are all in different age groups?
We have been able to instill discipline. I think my training allows me to try new methods of disciplining children rather than spanking and that has worked. We do not use physical punishment at Upendo, we realized that it does not work in all situations. My education tells me so.
We do a lot of mentorship for our kids, they are taken to church and raised in a Godly way, so that I am thankful for the faith family that has been involved with Upendo. Mrs Mahui from Juja PCEA, and others, have been a big part of mentoring our kids. They are not perfect kids, but they are well behaved.
EP:What is your main motivation in continuously doing what you do each day?
God is my main motivation. If I relied on man to motivate me, I would have surrendered 10 years ago. I look at Christ, and I get comforted. He gave up too much for me. God has motivated me by providing the resources I have for the kids.
My family in the USA and all those who sponsor my ministry have also given me a lot of courage to step outside the box and explore more opportunities for the kids. Buying a 5 acre land and trusting God for provision to be able to build and move in was also dependent on those well-wishers.
To donate to Upendo Children’s Home or Volunteer, you can reach Eunice on firstname.lastname@example.org or on social media Eunice Menja ( Facebook).