For Wamaitha Mwangi, what started at an unfinished one-bedroom apartment has transformed into a centre on a rental property, but with the same mission: supporting abandoned children.
The journey of AngeL Centre started in Limuru town in 2010, and Wamaitha had mattresses and beddings made to ensure the four children a one year old and three newborns under her care more comfortable.
She would support the home out of pocket for three years before well-wishers started chipping in.
Ten years later, she has impacted over 200 children, with 55 currently residing in the centre located behind Dagoretti High School in Waithaka.
“I have always loved children. Even as I went through school, I knew this is what I wanted to do. I feel this centre is a vision that God put in me.
I remember in 2013 when we were celebrating Angel Centre turning three and my father asked me if I remember telling him I wanted to be a mother.
Of course I could not remember that, but I remember volunteering and loving it.
My mother was a volunteer with Red Cross and, in a way, that made me love and enjoy volunteering and helping others,” Wamaitha explains.
The home is a sanctuary for children who have been abandoned and those whose parents may not want them despite carrying them to term either after they were conceived after rape or parents being too young or poor to take care of them.
The centre works closely with the police and children’s office to ensure placement of such children is legal and official.
The children at the home are of varying ages with the youngest, Abraham, aged just six weeks and the oldest, Allan, aged 10. With the varying ages come different physical and emotional needs.
Wamaitha is keen on empowering the children and ensuring they grow with a good self-esteem despite the false start at life.
“I have worked hard at creating a sense of belonging amongst all children, especially the older ones who can understand things better.
I take the honesty approach while ensuring they understand this is their home no matter what happened in the past or what happens later.
I try to fortify them so they do not take to self-pity as the world will still be harsh to them and won’t go easy on them just because they were abandoned at birth.
The older children are also on therapy, so that they can work through anger issues or any other emotional hang ups that they may have.
This will also help them develop self-awareness thereby equipping them for the harsh world out here,” Wamaitha, who holds a child psychology major, further elaborates.
As to what keeps her going, Wamaitha is candid. The centre has almost closed down three times.
Things have been tough, especially since Covid-19 hit, forcing the corporates supporting them to pull out due to the ensuing economic crunch.
“It is important to note that we run solely on well-wishers’ contributions be it through their time, money or physical goods donations, so things are bound to be tough.
But God is my biggest motivation with the children coming in a close second.
Challenges are there, but giving up means I am giving up on 55 children as well. I cannot let that happen so I keep pushing on for them,” she explains.
Despite the challenges, the centre has brought her joy and fulfillment in seeing the children grow into amazing young human beings.
They have successfully taken care of several kids and re-united them with their teen parents once their parents are out of school.
They have also successfully put at least 35 children in homes with new and loving adoptive children through adoption agencies.
“For me, seeing these children smile on the daily is a highlight in and of itself.
Watching them grow, and flourish with some being super athletic swimmers in their adoptive homes and schools is just a profound blessing,” Wamaitha enthuses.
Wamaitha is grateful for the whole decade long experience working with children.
She explains how she has learnt so much about life from the children with patience, honesty and integrity being some of the virtues that running the centre has firmly embedded in her.
She talks as passionately about her 55 kids as she does her five year old daughter who helps out with birthdays and party ideas for the former.
The cetre is receiving donations and is open to volunteers.