Mama Mercy: Good Samaritan Children Home

Good Samaritan Children Home believes that every child deserves to have a parental figure, food, shelter, clothing, health, and education.

Since 1991, Mama Mercy of Good Samaritan Children Home in Mathare and Dandora estates in Nairobi does her part in making children feel safe by absorbing abandoned children and children from the streets and giving them a home, food, clothing, and education.

On the outskirts of Mathare Valley is the Good Samaritan Children Home, a facility that has been in existence since 1991 under the leadership of the owner and proprietor, Mercy Thuo Mugeci Mburu, popularly known as Mama Mercy. Good Samaritan blends with the neighboring buildings overlooking Mathare Valley, most of which are unfinished three-to-four story buildings opposite the shanties of Mathare Valley.

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“Being a parent to hundreds of children is not an easy task. I am doing it because I love children and because I believe that is my purpose on earth. What will I gain if I have all the wealth and get robbed by a somebody in the street simply because he or she lacked an opportunity in life?”
Mama Mercy
Good Samaritan Children Home Aisha, Abdul, twins

A week after the twins were rescued

Opposite the facility is a small pig shed, an income-generating farm for the Good Samaritan Children Home. With a light blue gate, the inside consists of a permanent three-story building still under construction overlooking a two-story semi-permanent structure made of iron sheets. Here, Mama Mercy lives with over three hundred children of different age groups and all call her mum and depend on her for everything.

On the ground floor of the facility is the ablution block and a medium-sized multi-purpose hall which is directly opposite are her office, kitchen, and storage. The first floor has the boys’ dormitory overlooking another small hall, a library, and computer room. The second floor houses the girls’ dormitory and Mama Mercy’s humble apartment in the corner.

We first visited this facility in 2016 and 2017 as part of the Five Star Nairobi School of Music, formerly  RMMA, Outreach Program after which we booked for this interview. We had learned, through the children and people who knew her, that Mama Mercy was a different kind of woman with a unique passion for children.

During the first tour, we noticed that she lives within the facility and shares her humble apartment with rescued infants and some of the girls all sharing the same meal as the other 400. This situation is different from many children homes that we visited before and, in addition, there is a general perception that proprietors of such homes lead better lives compared to the lives of children under their care.

Good Samaritan Children Home

The twins, a year later

As we started the interview, Mama Mercy told us that her initial inspiration was the view that every child is innocent and deserves the care of a mother. She continued to narrate that the fact that she has the strength to offer the children all the basic needs and see them become responsible adults also inspired her more and led to her starting another branch of the Good Samaritan Children Home in Dandora slums.

Mama Mercy receives her children from different places. First, there are the infants and children whose guardians have abandoned in places like her gate, public places, and bus stations. She then coordinates with the children’s department, the police or the public for proper investigations before she admits them. The second group consists of those who make their way to the home and request her for admission, a majority of whom are from Nairobi but occasionally receive children from as far as Mombasa and Kisumu.

According to Mama Mercy, she never turns any child away, no matter the resources, her only conditions are, “live well with the others and agree to be enrolled in a school.” On inquiring further, she says that all the 600 children in both centers go to school, a good number attend private schools.

Good Samaritan Children Home has no regular donors but relies on well-wishers who select the children for whom they pay school fees, some even take up to facilitate the schooling of up to thirty children. Children at the home are at different academic levels, from kindergartens to tertiary institutions. The same case applies to food because, often, people commit themselves to buy different types of food for the home. For this reason, she heaps praises on some of the alumni of the institution for always giving back financially and through volunteering their skills and labor.

Same baby, few days after being rescued and after one month

As the interview was coming to an end, we talked about people’s relationship with street children, policy issues, child protection, and other social ills affecting children. Mama Mercy urged people to treat street families better because it “was not their wish to live in the streets.” According to her, conditions in the streets shape these children and contribute to the negative behavior associated with them and that with good homes, these children are capable of leading disciplined lives. As a consequent of street life, the children face harassment, violence, drug use, physical and emotional abuse, loneliness, fear, starvation, exposure to weather elements, unintended and early pregnancies, and poor hygiene among others. Lastly, Mama Mercy regretted that there is no tangible commitment from the government to sustainably implement programmes that will end the street children crisis in Nairobi.

UPDATE

Recently, Mama Mercy Thuo was accused of a possible child trafficking incident. We did our due diligence and helped the police with investigations before being arraigned in court. We followed up and talked to previous and current beneficiaries of the home. Based on our conversation with the authorities, Mama Mercy, and the beneficiaries, we have decided not to pull down this post until investigations come to a logical conclusion. We will pull it down if and when Mama Mercy is found guilty of the said offense. We call upon our communities to stand up and protect all the rights of children everywhere.

 

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