The ICDP work in Kenya was started by Haldis Drabløs Vonstad, an ICDP trainer from Ålesund, in Norway. She visited her friends in Kenya in 1990 and undertook some voluntary work there. From 1994 she started to send money for school fees for the orphans from Norwegian sponsors; from 1997 her visits became regular with the aim of supporting the refugee and orphanage centre in Juja, which was established and run by Dominican sisters.
Juja is an electoral constituency in Kenya, one of four constituencies in Thika District. The towns of Thika, Ruiru, Juja and Kilimambogo are located in this constituency. Juja has a population of 43,500. Sister Luise Radlmeier established the Emmanuel orphanage (https://www.emmanuelkenya.org/b.php?c=orphanages) and lives at its centre in Juja; the children live in several houses each with a housemother who cares for them.
Haldis paid nine visits to the orphanage and during that time she gradually developed a good relationship with the children, staff and management, always feeling welcome there. She managed to collect funds for the orphanage mainly through a fundraising system of the Norwegian People’s Aid organization. In addition she wanted to do something more than collecting funds for children’s school fees and thought of putting to good use her ICDP skills (she has been an ICDP trainer since 2004). She decided to ask the Dominican Sisters if they were interested in ICDP – they were. In 2007, after receiving advice from an ICDP international trainer, Haldis presented the ICDP programme to a group of twenty people, including employees (caregivers) and the orphanage management team. During two days, apart from hearing about ICDP, the participants were encouraged to talk and share about their local traditions in child rearing. All showed great interest in ICDP, but since the orphanage could not financially prioritize the ICDP initiative Haldis became involved in fundraising.
The workshops in Juja took place in 2008, 2010 and 2012. Haldis explains: “During each visit I gave ICDP sensitization workshops to employed staff (caregivers) over three days. The workshops were at caregiver level. I have not conducted a formal evaluation of the ICDP work I have done with the staff, but I am delighted to see that they seem to have developed a heightened sense of the importance of their role as caregivers and how to care for their children. Due to positive feedback and their expressed wish to receive more training in ICDP, I went Juja to give a 3-day ICDP workshop in October 2014. I was accompanied by my colleague and family therapist, Svein Dag Svendsen. We had 19 participants, mostly housemothers and 3 preschool teahers. All enjoyed the workshop and were actively participating – they went home inspired by the ICDP programme that is a treasure for everyone!”
About Sister Luise Radlmeier:
In 2002, Sister Luise left her position as a college lecturer to attend full-time to the needs of the refugees and orphans. During the course of the 1990’s she was able to secure funding from a wide range of private and public sources and gradually built a compound in Juja, some 48 kilometers northeast of Nairobi. There she established dormitories for students, three homes for AIDS Orphans and HIV positive children, a clinic, two nursery schools, a primary school, and a home for the elderly. She also established a modest hospital in nearby Thika. This is for the local poor and destitute but benefits the refugees too. The three orphanages are home to 270 children (AIDS orphans); 162 other orphans are placed with “grandmothers” in surrounding villages. She is currently facilitating the education and housing of 100 ex boy soldiers in vocational schools, 135 children in secondary school, and over 200 children in primary school—all refugees. Besides those at Juja, she has been trying to support the education of hundreds of pupils and vocational trainees in schools around the region.