The Maisha Mema Family

Welcome to Maisha Mema Children's Home in Tigoni!

We really cannot see any better meaning with our lives than helping unfortunate children to a Better Life!  Education is still the main goal for us, as this is basically the only chance for a Maisha Mema - Better Life.


The Maisha Mema Family functioned for many years as a foster home, but in March 2007 we got a "Certificate of Registration of a Charitable Children's Institution" by Ministry of Home Affairs.  We treat the children here - and we have over 30 of them - as though they were our own children.  For 12 years we were situated in the Old Doonholm estate in Nairobi, but in December 2011 we moved to Tigoni outside Nairobi where we have a big property (see the New Children's Home in Tigoni for history of this property).  The children in our family have a normal family-life, or at least as normal you can get it with such a number of children in the same family! 

We have two housemothers and one housefather living together with us, so that we have some help with the children (whoever wants to try to take care of so many children alone, might try…).

Of practical reasons, we have a girls' house and a boys' house.  And Marianne and Jonny also live at the same property.  The children eat breakfast before they go to school, get lunch at school, and in the evening we all eat supper together.  

Saturday night is fellowship-time, and Sunday morning we all go to church.  Friday night and Sunday afternoon we watch a movie.


Dear sponsors, friends and supporters of Maisha Mema!

Being on the giving end of Charity is a privilege.  Being on the receiving end of Charity might be undignified or even humiliating.  We make sure it is not.  One of our principal guidelines is to build people, build their self-image, build their lives into dignified and self-appreciating human beings who can ultimately serve the society in a good way.

In the Maisha Mema family in Tigoni we are now 37 children, and in the Soweto Clubhouse over 300.  By extension of siblings, parents and other relatives and friends Maisha Mema reaches hundreds of people every day.  But still, we value quality over quantity.  We must see each and every child!

During Christmas we celebrate the One who went around everywhere doing good.  Emulating this puts dignity and self-worth into people’s lives.  Thanks for walking this road together with us, building the self-image of children and parents whom we work with.

On behalf of Maisha Mema; children, workers and Marianne & Jonny we would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year – and by extension: A Maisha Mema (a Better Life) :-)   [from the Christmas card 2017]

In Kenya, taking pictures is very important.  Every Christmas we normally take group pictures and individual pictures.  The children love having nice pictures in their albums :-)  This is from the 2016 Christmas session, with  some of the children, some friends, and great joy :-)

Dear Friends!  Part of being a child is to have fun.  So, when some university students led by a friend of ours came to play with our children, there was laughter and happiness all over.  Not all children in the world are growing up having fun.  That is a sad thought...  Let this be a reminder to us all: Children have the right to get basic needs including food, education and health care.  But a child also needs to feel safe and protected, and to be loved.  May we never forget to let the child be a child, and may never the child be without basic needs, protection and love!  Thank you for helping Maisha Mema to do so! :-)  The whole of Maisha Mema, children, staff and Marianne and Jonny would like to wish you

A very happy Christmas, and an exciting new year :-)  [from 2016 Christmas card]

Dear Friends!  Pre-Unit at Tigoni Primary School went for a school trip just the other day.  Here are Shakira, Michael and Jeff from our Family in Tigoni after they came back from the trip.  Face-painting is a must, and always popular.  All the primary and secondary school children in the program go to public schools.  Thus they are not stigmatised as having a "bad" background.  They compete equally with children from "better" families, and have the same chance of a job career later.  Six students from our Clubhouse Soweto (slums) program attend public University based on their marks! Thanks for helping us building a Better Life for presently 300 children! J


Dear Friends!  We have a lot of visitors, especially after we moved to Tigoni.  And some of them are quite artistic, - like the St Olav Secondary School students from Stavanger when they visited us in October 2014.  Their use of the blackboard in the study room just had to be photographed before it got erased again :-)  And no matter how beautiful nature, fresh air, nice buildings and lots of flowers; what visitors remain with is the meeting with the children in Tigoni and Soweto.  Because they are the reason Maisha Mema exists.  Thanks for helping us building a Better Life for now over 300 children! J

It was a great day when we finally could move into our own place with the children!  The property we bought in Tigoni and where we moved just before Christmas 2011 is just otherworldly!  A true paradise!  Thanks to you all for standing by us in giving the children the best place!  And they even go to the best public school in the district now! :-)


We have planted a lot of flowers, bushes and trees.  The boys' house to the left, the girls' house with study room and dining hall to the right.  The picture under was taken from the opposite side a rainy day on one of the occations you see the rainbow :-)

This picture was taken the first time the children saw their new home in October 2011.  We only told them that we would go for a picnic, and ended up at the new property.  Jonny dropped the bomb shell just before we went out of the bus; "This will be our new home!"  Complete silence lasted a few seconds, then wild cheers erupted, then running around, testing the football field, being explained about the boy's house, the girl's house, where the dining hall would be and so on.  Nobody wants to move back to Nairobi... :-)

The extension of the Boys House was finished in May 2014.  Now we have more space for the boys (the big room upstairs in the middle of this picture), a flat for the house father (the left side upstairs), and two downstairs storage rooms - one where we can store equipment, tools, building materials etc. and another one where we can sort, store and distribute between Tigoni and Soweto the clothes we get from visiting people.  St Olav Secondary School in Stavanger was very instrumental in the realisation of the extension.  Thanks very much :-)

Some of our children participated in The Day of the African Child on Saturday 15th June 2013. The theme was "Cultural Practices that are detrimental to a child's development", and our team performed a poem on Female Genital Mutilation written by our very own Boniface Kariuki (he's in University studying Accounts). One of our housemothers, Leah, accompanied them. From left to right: Richard, Beth, Virginia, Femmy and John. The home they, together with children from over 10 other children's home visited, is a home for physically and mentally handicapped children. All the homes also brought some food stuff to this home, and both the Children's Officer and the District Officer were present to grace the event. Well done! :-)





Knitting socks for Africa is actually not a joke!  Where we now live with our children can be quite cold.  These knitted warm clothes were donated by Else in Norway.  Thanks! :-)



Our children performing for guests, with Askøybussen in the background.  The bus is called so because 6 schools at Askøy outside Bergen in Norway support Maisha Mema :-)




We have experienced quite a bit during the many years we have taken care of children in our family.  Here are some pictures illustrating some events and thoughts:






One of the most exciting times in our family, is when a new child enters.  Virginia came in the beginning of February from far; all the way from up north in Kenya.  We always wonder how new kids will fit in.  Virginia adapted very fast, and is here on her way to first day in a new school, proudly displaying the uniform and bag.  What a blessing it is to be able to welcome a new member into our family! :-)

In a family, any small event is a big event.  So when Jane started loosing her milk teeth, it was an occasion to eternalise.  Just like in any family :-)

Tabitha is a smiling girl who is happy about living in a big family.  She is one of 20 children currently living in the Maisha Mema Family (older picture).




Some of our resident children in their nicest clothes.  Christmas means new clothes, and the children are extremely happy for this.  Normally, Sunday after church is photo time.  The children are then proudly displaying their new outfits.  Right now, every day life is back, and school uniforms the most common outfit.  But on Sunday the nice clothes are picked from the wardrobes again... :-)                (Pictures taken Christmas 2010)

Without friends, you don’t live, only exist”.  How true this is also for the children in Maisha Mema: Without you it would be a struggle for existence, but with you they can get a Better Life.

We are together in creating a Better Life for children in Kenya!

(Doonholm family, Christmas Day 2009)

It's back to school, and our smallest children in Doonholm feel proud of uniforms, books and stationary - and the fact that kind people in Norway, Switzerland and Germany enable them to go to school!  Under we see some of the same children at left, now in January 2010, and a few of the Secondary school girls also on their way to school at the same time.


These two boys were picked up in June 2008 from another children's home where they were posted temporarily.  Now they are part of the Maisha Mema family, and we welcome them for what we hope and believe will be a Better Life!  One of the older girls, just home for mid-term from Secondary school, forms a background which should also tell something important: Angels are those who do well to others.  Hereby is the challenge given to everybody reading this: Do well to others! 




Ready for school!  New uniform, shiny shoes, bag with books and stationary - what more can little children want?  At least in Kenya, where school really means something!





Maisha Mema = Better Life!!

Sammy joined our family in May 2007, and is one of the many children living in the Maisha Mema Children's Home. 


As for most families, we also try to give the children different experiences like camps, outings, swimming, sports and so on.  In December 2000, the boys even climbed Mount Kenya!  And naturally, as most parents, we hope that all of them will succeed in life, by getting good education and later good jobs.  As Christians, we also hope they will take a stand for Jesus.  It is good to have somebody beside you always! 


Our goal is that all the children in the program one day will be able of taking care of themselves and a family by getting good education or vocational training, and eventually a job.   




Two of the girls from our family ready to leave for school in January 2008: Nanu, who attends Form 2 in a boading school, and Tabitha, who just started Standard 1 in a school nearby.

We encourage people to come visiting us (check out the Guest-book!).  Our children are quite used to people from all over the world coming for shorter or longer periods.  This is also good exposure for the children, and encourages them to broaden their horizon.  Foreign, volunteer workers also come living with us for shorter or longer time (see Volunteer Information).

Going to church on Sundays, we have for several years now rented the same matatu ("mini-bus"), normally plying the number 58 Buru Buru route.  Although matatus are infamous for rowdy touts and drivers, we have had a very good relationship with the people manning this matatu.

On the picture, two of our children are on their way into the matatu after an outing to Uhuru Gardens.  We actually save a lot of money by not buying a vehicle of our own! (but if somebody should get an irresistable urge to buy a matatu for us, we would of course be happy!)

Outings are part and parcel of being a family.  And City Park is a popular place to go because of the monkeys!  The outings are basically happening during the vacations, as school otherwise takes most of the time for the children.  So they are always looking forward to the vacations!

Another very popular activity is of course swimming.  Children all over the world are the same here!





During holidays it is important to activate the children.  Christmas holiday is a rather long one...  But the children in our family had various activities to fill the time with, among them beadworks.  Kamau is here making a bracelet.

Any sound parents are proud of their children.  So are we!   Only we have over 20 of them we live with and another more than 200 we are responsible for.  Each of them is unique.  Each of them is having his or her specific needs.  In Maisha Mema we try focusing on the individual child, because we believe they can develop in the best way then.  Thank you for stretching out your hand towards these children and taking part in bringing up these children to have a share in Kenya’s future!  In doing so, we also hope you will feel richly blessed!   [picture from the Christmas letter 2007]


Check out these pages also:

Building Project




Top of Page