It all started with a Friendship
In November 1994 Peter Brierley received a letter from a pastor of whom he had never heard, with a family of three, living in a town called Kisumu in Kenya. He was unable to answer his request but sent him £5 for his family. A note of thanks came quickly back saying that as well as his own 3 children he was also looking after 3 orphaned children of relatives. This time it was a £10 note that was sent.
From such an insignificant start has grown a work touching scores and scores of children. Further donations followed, and the pastor, Stephen, took in more orphans till he had a house of 11 children crammed to capacity. Cherry and Peter Brierley then asked if any of their friends might like to help with a regular donation. Many more than expected responded, and, with the additional regular support, Stephen moved first into a larger, rented, home capable of housing 25 children, and then, in 1998, into what is referred to as “The Old Home”, a rather dilapidated, corrugated iron roofed construction, which could hold 50 children. It then became known as the “Cherry Brierley Children’s Home” (much to the Brierley’s dismay!)
With increasing income from the UK following a visit in 2000 by a gap-year student called Ellie, from the same church as Cherry and Peter, a Trust was formed which in 2002 became a registered Charity. Stephen moved on from being the manager and Philemon replaced him. The old Home was in a condemned building and long-term tenure was unwise, so in 2005 plans were drawn up for a fund-raising campaign in 2006 for £120,000 to build a new Kenyan- appropriate Home. In the providence and miraculous ways of God, that money was provided and in 2007 building work began and was 90% completed.
The year 2008 was disastrous – for Kenya following disputed elections, as riots broke out torching many shops in Kisumu and killing dozens, and, in a totally separate incident at the Home, when it caught fire one night and was half destroyed, with the tragic loss of Philemon’s entire family. The Children’s Department in Kisumu allowed the children to move into the still-uncompleted new Home, which was then speedily finished and officially opened by the local Bishop on 28th August 2008. Another dormitory was added in 2016 to house a total of 72 children.
The Covid pandemic brought with it a new Government policy of returning all children to whatever relatives they had, and often back to extreme poverty. Kisumu Children provided meals, food parcels and funds, opening its doors to embrace many other local groups to help foster care and self-sufficiency. Support for education, healthcare and vocational training continue. The charity’s motto is “Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow” and over 250 children have been helped since the beginning – and we want to help hundreds more in the decades to come!