Have you ever imagined having a family of 159 children? Well, it sounds unbelievable but Rev. Kenneth Wachianga is one man with such a family. But wait, these are not his biological children, they are either abandoned, orphaned and underprivileged. Perturbed by how the church (in his community) was doing little to help the children out of poverty, Rev. Wachianga, then a young Anglican priest at Sirimbi parish in Siaya, Kenya; decided to make a difference. A difference to take action towards moving children out of poverty. He remembers meeting 5 students in 1998, who had finished their high school studies and were unable to join their Universities of choice despite having passed their exams. It is at this point that he, together with other well wishers (mainly religious leaders) sponsored the students to the University.
The good reverend did not stop there. In 2002, he would start a feeding programme for children from underprivileged backgrounds within the community. “I started with 38 children who would gather at Mindhini Dispensary and we would serve them food. The children were mainly orphaned or from underprivileged backgrounds” he explains. Still motivated and with children issues at heart, the selfless Rev. Wachianga would later in 2004 donate his family’s ancestral land and set up a home for the children – Amani Village of Hope; located in Siaya, Kenya. The children then; who had grown in number would have a place not only to call home but also a place that gives them a ray of hope. Hope for a bright future, hope for a safe environment, hope for a society free of poverty and violence.
Today, Rev. Wachianga is proud father of 159 children, between the age of 2 months to 17 years. From ensuring the children are in school, providing them food and healthcare are all his primary roles. Roles that he confesses have been played diligently. “There has been challenges, yes. But we strive to ensure the children have food and stay in school,” he said. Rev. Wachianga acknowledges the help that well wishers; including organisations and religious leaders have accorded him; in his noble cause of achieving a world free of child poverty. One such acknowledgement is the scholarship programme from Arigatou International – End Child Poverty. The scholarship programme has ensured children at Amani Village of Hope get education; which is widely believed as one vehicle through which children can get out of poverty. Rev. Wachianga does not shy away from showing an example of a child, who for long has been a beneficiary of the scholarship programme – David Odongo. “Sometimes this year while at school, I remember being presented with a school fees cheque from Arigatou International,” David joyfully acknowledges. The modest Anglican Church priest further appreciates the scholarship programme while appealing for more of such educational assistance programmes as the number of children keep increasing with time. He says that through education, the children will live a poverty free life in future; not only for themselves but also for the community.
The middle aged reverend is also a family man, with 2 daughters. This triggers one to find out how he balances his time between his biological family, children and the work of God – being an Anglican Church priest. Rev. Wachianga chuckles then responds; “I agree it is a lot of work but it is the passion in me that drives me and I am never giving up,” he says.
“I give priority to the most urgent matters while I do the rest of the tasks I do on phone,” he continues. With a vision to see each and every child educated and live a life, free of poverty; Rev. Wachianga says that he has one principle; that never turns away any child coming to Amani Village of Hope. If you think it is complicated managing the children, then Rev. Wachianga has got a secret for you, a secret he shares as his parting shot. “I don’t cane, I don’t shout and I talk to you politely.”
Arigatou International – End Child Poverty proudly shares in the efforts of Rev. Wachianga. A religious leader who not only chose to do his religious duties as prescribed by the church but also chose to make an impact for the good of children. His efforts are part of End Child Poverty’s interfaith advocacy, specifically under the right to education, as a driver out of child poverty. This is also one way in which End Child Poverty mobilises faith inspired resources towards ending child poverty. Through Rev. Wachianga, End Child Poverty has been able and continues to ensure children get education as a means out of poverty.