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
The Maisha Mema Familyfunctioned 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
The children eat breakfast before they go to school, get
lunch at school, and in the evening we all eat supper
Saturday night is fellowship-time,
and Sunday morning we all go to
church. Friday night and Sunday afternoon we watch
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
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 :-)
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
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!
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!
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.
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
OLDER PICTURES FROM
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 :-)
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)
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
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
Maisha Mema = Better Life!!
Sammy joined our
family in May 2007, and is one of the many children living in the Maisha Mema
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
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
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
Going to church on Sundays, we have for
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
On the picture,
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