Thika Rescue Children Centre, located at the outskirts of Thika town, Kenya, is a home for young boys aged between 5 to 18 years rescued from the streets in Nairobi. Currently, the Centre has a population of 98 boys who have mostly lost contact with their relatives, as a result of domestic violence.
As a government-supported institution, it aims to rescue boys until they are reunited with their relatives. However, not all boys who go there are successfully reunited. Some stay in the Centre until they reach 18 years old when they are then released back into the community. At this point, the government expects them to take care of themselves. Back at the Centre, the government supports their food supply and medication. However, there is no budget allocation for clothes and school fees. Here, the Centre’s management works closely with well-wishers to fill the gap. Based on the annual budget allocation, the Centre is unable to provide a balanced diet in their meals to meet the children’s nutritional requirement.
With 13.2 hectares of land, SCOPE Kenya has been supporting the Centre to use part of their land to establish a food forest, producing vegetables and fruits, to supplement their feeding programme and improve the health of the young boys. Over the last few years, the institution has managed to produce a diversity of vegetables such as; black nightshade, amaranth, spinach kales, cowpeas, cherry tomatoes and onions. Other food crops include; sweet potatoes, cassava, bananas and herbs, mainly lemongrass and roselle (hibiscus). They have also incorporated medicinal trees like Moringa Oleifera.
Today, the Centre is producing about 40% of the boys’ vegetable requirement. This has not only improved the health of the boys but also reduced the expenditure on external supplies.
On Friday 13th November 2020, SCOPE Kenya joined Thika Rescue Children Centre in a tree planting day. We planted a total of 100 pawpaw and 50 sweet yellow passion fruit seedlings. Each boy was allocated two seedlings to nurture, and once well rooted, we will hold another planting phase. This is to ensure that there is a high survival rate for the trees planted. Other crops like banana suckers, pumpkin seeds, Roselle (hibiscus), lemongrass and moringa were also planted.
The purpose of this activity was to build the capacity of young children in tree planting and environmental stewardship, increase the number of trees planted in the garden and facilitate the production of different fruits to enrich their diet.
John Macharia (TreeKenya Country Manager)
Photo: Edward Pycraft