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Introduction

Background of the organization

Compassionate Neighbor’s Children’s Center is a children’s home located in Githurai 44, Nairobi County, Kenya. The home’s distance is approximately 200 meters, off Uncle Sam’s stage, the road connecting Githurai 44 and Githurai 45. Compassionate Neighbor’s Children Center was started in the year 1982 by Bishop Josiah Moses Mwima Okoth and his dear wife Mrs. Mwima Okoth.

Director Josiah finished school in the year 1957 and started looking for a job like any other youth of his age at the time. Life was tough and he engaged himself in crime and robbery together with his mates back in the day. He was imprisoned and sentenced to Kamiti maximum prison. It’s while he was in this prison in the year 1974 that he got saved. He prayed and asked God to give him a vision of what He (God) wanted him (Josiah) to do with his life. In prison, the director said he saw a person ensemble d like a Muslim and appeared in his dreams. He told him that “takes care of the name you are carrying. Go out and take care of the young people outside there.” And it’s at this point he saw God wanted him to help the children. He was released from prison in December 1975 and did not finish his sentenced years; he was released on parole for good behavior.

When he went home he told his wife the vision he had. His wife offered him full support and thus the year 1982 is the year Compassionate Neighbors Children’s Center was born. Mr. and Mrs. Josiah Okoth started the children’s home with the aim of reaching zero pregnancy among the youth no matter where or how their history is. It is also purposed for saving young lives from crimes.

Mr. Josiah had challenges with finding a building where he could house his new children and he moved from one house to house asking for help. Every time he did so the doors were slammed on his face but still he did not give up. During this search for a house for his children, a lady from France saw his struggles and bought a piece of land and constructed the home where Compassionate Neighbors Children’s Center is currently located.

The home is currently being run by the director and his wife. He is a strong believer in the word of God, reads the Bible every day, and always wants to live by the word of the Bible. They started living in Githurai in 1978. Compassionate Neighbor Children Center hosts children who are;

    1. Orphans.
    2. Rescue unwanted pregnancies.
    3. Rescued children who have been abandoned.

Compassionate Neighbors Children’s Center has a total of 34 children currently. 24 of these children are in the Compassionate Center in Nairobi while 10 of the rest are in Vihiga County with Mrs. Okoth. The home has a kitchen, where they use charcoal in their cooking, two dormitories, a girl’s and boys’s, two toilets and two bathrooms, three water tanks, the director’s office, and his restroom as well.

[bookmark: _Toc20827367]The center is registered as a nonprofit community-based institution whose vision is, “reaching unwanted pregnancy and orphans in the society.”

Initial feelings about the organization

I have a heart for always reaching out and helping out where I can. Before settling for a compassionate children’s home, most of the options I picked were full. Those centers were near my reach because I wanted a flexible place and a place where I would give my 100% concentration. The moment I picked the letter I knew I wanted a place that is affiliated with children. Being a mother there’s a strong bond between me and my children. I knew there was no way I was ever going to get bored as compared to some few negative comments made by students who had taken the course prior. That it’s tiresome and boring. And so I started my search for a site that is children-affiliated. Luckily I got an open vacancy at Compassionate Neighbor’s Children’s Center.

I never knew the exact location of the site so I made a call first and then headed to the site. The site is approximately 200 meters, off Uncle Sam stage, the road connecting Githurai 44 and Githurai 45. The home is right next to the road, adjacent to the business buildings and residential areas. Having been to a rescue center before, there was not much of a difference site. Compassionate was about rescuing children. The home’s environment was friendly and there were a few ladies who were doing laundry. I thought I would find children playing, running up and about, or helping out with some chores but there were no children at the center at that particular moment. I met the site supervisor Madam Lydia Apisi who welcomed me and introduced me to Mr. Josiah Okoth the site’s director.

I received a very warm and kind reception from both Lydia and Mr. Josiah and they told me they were honored to have me in the home. This really touched me a lot considering the fact that they knew I was a USIU student seeking a vacancy on their site and they would have opted to reject me. An additional fact is that this was community service I was undertaking because it’s a p requisite in the University and they did not care about that instead they said they were honored to have me in their home. They engaged me and this made me feel at home. Madam Lydia Apisi gave me a brief history of the center and the challenges they have with rejections they came across and still have with running the children’s center. They told me about the well-wishers who made and made donations to help them keep running the home and to make the children in this home feel they have parents, shelter, clothing, and food. As they talked me through I saw and felt the sense of honor to humanity and kindness in them.

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Mr. Josiah also mentioned the negativity he received from various people including his very own siblings who discouraged him from pursuing his course of saving young lives. Instead, his siblings advised him to sell the land after all he didn’t purchase it was given to him and he would make profits from it. Alternatively, he leases the land and starts a business or rents it out and makes money out of it. Having been saved while in prison he told them that his conscious would not allow him to and that God had already shown him this was the path he was to follow. He challenged them and told them that God had given humankind four things to live by; Life and Death and blessings and a Curse.

Mr. Josiah and his wife had in mind what they wanted and no matter the rough course they wanted to put smiles on the faces of children regardless of their historical and emotional experiences. Mrs. Lydia Apisi the site’s supervisor, willingly took me around the center for orientation. She took me through the two dormitories, boys and girls, the toilets, the kitchen, and the director’s office and room. The director lives there with the children together with Madam Lydia

The children’s home has a number of basic amenities such as pumped water in both small and large tanks, electricity, and sewerage. The children get three meals which are served in the morning; breakfast evening; and dinner, during lunch time they are in school and therefore they do not come back to the site instead they carry their lunchtime meal. The three large tanks of water are pumped from two sources; the city council water which they are expected to pay bills where they owe them thirty-four thousand Kenya shillings and the secondly is the borehole water which is salty. The borehole water is not safe for drinking instead they consume the county council water which is much safer for drinking. Inside the dormitories, the boy’s dormitory has 5 triple decal beds each having a mattress and a blanket. The girl’s dormitory has 7 triple decal beds each having a mattress and a blanket as well.

On the left, there’s the director’s office, his rest room, his office which also serves as the home’s reception office, two rooms where food is kept, and another room where clothing and bedding are kept. In between the children’s dormitories and the director’s side is the corridor verandah and there run the hanging lines where clothes are hung to dry after laundry. The clothes are cleaned by ladies who are paid to do the laundry work. As I was being oriented I could see the piles and piles of dirty clothes prompting me to know that this children’s center hosts quite a number of children. We also went around the building where Ms. Lydia told me the window panes were to be cleaned as well. The home being near the road, motorists spread a lot of dust and the window panes were extremely dirty and one would think they have not near washed for nearly a year. Since that day was all about orientation I did not get the chance to do the cleaning and after orientation, I handed in my school letter, daily diary, and the other document the site supervisors were supposed to sign. Having settled that that’s the place I wanted to render my services to, I bid them goodbye and told them I was looking forward to the next day.

Day two I arrived on time, met my fellow students from USIU, and Mrs. Lydia welcomed us again and assigned us duties to clean the director’s office dormitories, toilets, utensils, and kitchen. As for the corridor verandah, we were to clean it all of us after we had finished our activities in the respective areas we had been assigned. At first, I was very skeptical about my fellow colleagues on how they would execute their chores. Were they willing to undertake this from deep inside their hearts or were they doing it because it is community service and the school says each and every student has to undertake this course? Well, I was impressed by how my colleagues and I corporate and we all executed these tasks in harmony. We each got our hands on the required tools for execution, the water buckets filled with water and sprinkled some powder soap in them, the brooms, and the scrubbers for those of us mopping the floors. Took all the dirty utensils outside for cleaning, scooped out the cobwebs on the corners of the houses, and cleaned the windows both inside and out. At the end of all tasks, we were so proud of ourselves for the cooperation we accorded each other. Mrs. Lydia was very impressed, she positively reviewed our tasks.

At the end of the session, we were served a cup of tea which became regular afterward on all the days we attended community service. We also signed our daily diary, indicating the activities each one of us had completed and Ms. Lydia signed to assert that.

Challenges facing the institution

Every institution is coupled with a number of challenges, and like any other institution, Compassionate Neighbor’s Children Center is not exclusive. The challenges include;

    1. Bills. Compassionate Neighbor Children Center has a number of bills to clear. They include electricity bills and water bills. Their biggest bill challenge has amounted to a kiss. 34,000.that is the water bill followed by the electricity bill which amounted to kshs 29,000. They require both amenities to be in a position to run the home effectively. The county council follows on the progress of the payment which is proofing difficult to clear.
    2. Education. Compassionate Neighbor Children Center hosts 34 children and all are in school. 9 are in high school, 24 are in the nearby Githurai primary school, and 1 is in baby class. The child in baby school and the 9 in high school face challenges with school fees payment every term.
    3. Uniform. This is a requirement for all children in high school and primary school. Some of the children wore rugged sweaters, sometimes shorts, and dresses for the girls. The institution is not financially stable enough to cater to all of them.
    4. Health service. The children can’t access sufficient government services as they are required to make payment for the service and medication. At times they cannot access a certain prescription from a government hospital and are therefore forced to buy the drugs in a chemist/pharmacy which is expensive.
    5. Accommodation. The home was constructed by a French lady who bought the land on behalf of the director and also helped put up the building. Well-wishers furnished the home but they had challenges with food, clothing, and kitchen essentials.

What I expect to do to improve the challenges

    1. Increase the number of cleaning essentials required. The home has scarce cleaning essentials like buckets for fetching water during cleaning, brooms for sweeping and scrubbing the floor, and good quality basins for cleaning the utensils. We have agreed as colleagues that we should each come with one or two of these essentials so that our work can run smoothly instead of waiting for one to finish so that we can access this cleaning essential. So far we have bought a few sand which has greatly facilitated the cleaning process.
    2. Maintaining cleanness. For us to prevent fungal and bacterial infection we have to maintain cleanliness of the highest order, especially considering there is a very little young one who is attending baby class. I have bought Dettol antiseptic, cotton wool, a roll of bandage, and a pair of scissors in case of an emergency like a cut the children may benefit from this as a first aid kit. Also, the children need to be clean always. My colleagues and I made a small contribution of kshs 2,000 and we bought bar soap and powder soap to ensure their clothes were cleaned properly and regularly.
    3. Initiated a proposal where we will do something small at the end of the community service. I involved my colleagues after seeing the challenges the home is going through. We are 6 students and agreed on contributing an amount of kshs 2,000. If one is in the capability of offering more they were welcome and also ensured those who felt they couldn’t raise the exact amount they can just give what they have. All will make a difference and definitely go a long way.
    4. Learning from my failures. I am willing to learn from any wrongdoings have made during the first half of this community service and make corrections where possible. Also, I am willing to learn where I don’t know.

What I expect to do for the site

    1. To continuously render myself 100% and not give up on these children.
    2. I expect to continuously clean the dormitory for both boys and girls, keep the beds clean and not change the same momentum I started with instead of offering even more.
    3. Keep the environment child-friendly by ensuring it’s clean and safe to avoid health implications.
    4. Ensure the reception is the first place that should be cleaned and well organized as a visitor can come in any time.
    5. Respect the director’s privacy by staying out of his office and only being there whenever I need to inquire about something.
    6. I intend to talk to my fellow colleagues about how we can make a small contribution to the home at the end of our community service.
    7. I intend to continue learning from my colleagues to improve where I’m going wrong in carrying out our duties and responsibilities.
    8. I expect myself to arrive on time and not take advantage of my colleagues by coming late and finding pretty much of the work done.
    9. I intend on rotating duties and not doing one chore throughout my entire semester.

Conclusion

Compassionate Neighbor’s Children Center is a true reflection of a home for humanity. It accommodates both boys and girls with the purpose of reducing unwanted pregnancy and crime in young lives. It is a center that has a big heart for all regardless of their history or past experiences. It is a home that is willing to challenge and change the society and the world that all people deserve equal opportunities, it honors equality for all. It is a center that ensures all their children acquire education and also teaches them responsibilities by allowing the children to engage in home chores in the evening like cleaning utensils, making their beds after waking up, and general cleaning during the weekend. It is a home that is led by a bishop and in return teaches these children the goodness of staying righteous and following the word of God. In general, I would say the introduction of community service as a course in USIU was/is a great idea that has touched the lives of many destitute members of our society. No one should feel left out in our society and this act of community service has proven that.

”Without community service, we would not have a strong quality of life. It’s important to the person who serves as well as the recipient. It’s the way in which we ourselves grow and develop” Dorothy Height

”Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth” Muhammad Ali

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