My name is Rob Noble, and have lived in Haslemere for 5 years. I grew up in Muswell Hill, and when I married in I moved to Barnet in Hertfordshire.
25 years ago I was invited by a church pastor who was visiting England to stay with him and his family in North Kinangop. It was a wonderful experience staying in a mud hut and I noticed the people were very poor, but happy. 2 days into my stay I was taken by members of the local church on a journey to Naivasha to feed the street children. Within minutes the horror of the situation came to light. The first child we fed was very young and had a vacant look in his eyes. He took the food and the way he ate, it became obvious he had not eaten for a while. It was the same when we saw groups of children who formed an orderly queue and were polite, always thanking us for the food.
I spoke to a lady named Catherine Kihiuhi who had bought a plot of land for a Children’s home nearby. She needed funding for dormitories for the children. I felt so moved by what I had seen, and with the help of my church in Barnet Hertfordshire, we raised enough money to pay for more dormitories which were completed in weeks. I have continued supporting the home ever since with many different fundraising activities.
Before I retired I was a buyer of art for a London department store , so using the skills I had learnt I have over the last 2 years I have used images donated by talented photographers and turned them into canvas prints and greetings cards. These have gone down well and raised money for the home. A successful exhibition was held at Haslemere Museum during the month of March 2018. Our new venture is ChristianArt.co.uk
About the founder Catherine
Ms Catherine Muthoni Kihiuhi was born in 1948 in Kenya’s Central Province. After completing her training as a teacher, she worked as a high school principal from the late 70s to the year 2001 when she retired. In 1992, while contemplating starting a private girls’ school on property she had earlier purchased, God impressed upon her heart through a vision to start an orphanage for destitite children. Such a facility was greatly needed due to the large number of children being orphaned by the AIDS pandemic that was ravaging much of Africa at the time. Other challenges such as povertywere also driving large numbers of children onto the streets of Kenyan towns. These children would survive through begging and engaging in petty crimes, thus endangering their lives and future.
On 14thJanuary 1995, Neema Children’s Home began operations when Catherine admitted the first two children, a boy and a girl who had been orphaned by AIDS, into the Home. Neema means ‘grace’ in the Swahili language. At the time, no facilities had been put up at the Home yet, and so the children resided in Catherine’s house. Over time, the Home has been established as a separate entity on a portion of land provided by Catherine for this purpose. Its facilities include dormitories for boys and girls, a kitchen, classrooms, offices, a small room that serves as a library, a multipurpose hall that serves as a chapel and dining area, and a playing field. A section of the land serves as a garden where vegetables are grown to help the Home meet some of its food requirements. The Home is run by a management board under which Catherine serves as the institution’s Executive Director. The board reports to the Neema Education Trust, an entity set up and registered by the relevant governement authorities for this purpose. The Home admits children from the surrounding area, many of them brought in by relatives and governement officials. The ages of the children at any one time will range from about 1 to 18 years old. The children are provided with food, shelter and clothing, as well as parental care and protection, with the aim of seeking to help themheal from life traumas and grow upinto well-adjusted human beings. The Home also seeks to prepare the children spiritually and psychologically to be able to accept themselves and relate with the community around them.
In 2002, the Home’s Board of Directors found it necessary to start a school within the home so as to facilitate faster restoration and rehabilitation of traumatized children through provision of more impactful care and support. Channels of Grace Schools was, therefore, started as an off-shoot of Neema Children’s Home for the purpose of extending education to the children at the Home. With time, however, it became necessary to scale down the school’s operations so that at present, only preschool education is provided at the Home.The older children go to nearby public primary and secondary schools. Some of the challenges that the Home has faced over the years include financing of recurrent and capital expenditure which includes taking care of feeding and clothing of the children, provision of beddings, medical care and remuneration of staff, among others. The operations of the Home are financed through donations from individuals, churches, and other organizations. Despite the challenges, the Home has witnessed the faithfulness of God in meeting the needs over the years. Hundreds of children, both boys and girls, have passed through the Home with many going on to live independent and productive lives to God’s glory.
Neema Children`s Home is run by the Neema Education Trust. It is a charitable institution that seeks to help children in destitute circumstances to live up to their full God-given potential