Vulnerable? Helpless? Not These Kids

Many of Africa’s 15 million orphans struggle to care for younger siblings or ailing relatives. CWS forms groups of young caregivers, helps them to determine their goals in life, and with a bit of support helps them realize their dreams as they support each other.

It’s easy to look at Africa’s orphaned children and see helplessness, weakness, despair. We see opportunity, resourcefulness, community. Africa’s future.

Consider the story of Wendy Maurine. The oldest of four children, she was once forced to move her family into a Kenyan slum after losing her parents to HIV and AIDS.

“We spent many nights awake, averting those (mostly men) trying to enter our home and take advantage of our situation,” the 23-year-old Mombasa resident says. “My dream was to move my family out of that place!”

Yet the deck was stacked against her. Becoming a breadwinner at age 17 cuts dreams short. It also proves fertile ground for hunger and poverty.

“I left school to look for casual jobs, like washing people’s clothing or other work that could earn a plate of food once-a-day for my family,” she says.

Wendy’s story is not unique. UNICEF estimates almost 16 million children have lost parents to HIV and AIDS.

But kids are resilient. Imaginative. Determined. Among Africa’s orphaned millions, we indeed see incredible strength in numbers.

Through its Giving Hope program, Church World Service brings Africa’s orphaned children together into working groups, small communities of peers who also face the challenges of caring for others, and themselves.

These small groups are places where care-giving is shared, where dreams are prioritized and backed by small grants from CWS. Wendy says her working group helped her to figure out how to care for her siblings while earning income. “Encouraged by them, I received 5,000 Ksh (USD $65) as support to start a small business,” she says. “I began buying goats in the rural area, and transporting them to Mombasa to sell in the city market.”

Wendy’s entrepreneurship helped her gain stable income, and helped her to move her brother and sisters out of the slum and into a home. She has also expanded her business to raise chickens, and continues to help others in her Giving Hope working group with financial and moral support to realize their dreams. Wendy’s dream is high above, in the skies.

“I now have a new dream to be a flight attendant, and my sister dreams about being a nurse,” Wendy says.“I am working hard to save enough for my training and for hers.”

More About This Charity




Disaster Relief and International Aid


Church World Service


Church World Service works with partners to eradicate hunger and poverty and to promote peace and justice around the world.


  • This charity raised $12 million in the past year
  • This Achievement helped 30,000 African orphans survive and thrive

Works In

Kenya, Rwanda

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