SOS Children’s Villages began its work in Meru in 2005, primarily to support children who had lost their parents or had otherwise been affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Basic health and social services are limited in Meru and many children are at risk of contracting serious childhood illnesses. Education continues to be an important focus and attendance rates are slowly improving.
Serious social challenges
Meru is a town of 250,000 people situated on the northeast slopes of Mount Kenya. Located eight kilometres north of the equator, Meru is part of a region of forest, clearings, small towns and farms. The town is the commercial, business and agricultural centre of northern and eastern Kenya.
Many families are living in hardship, and it is estimated that 25% of households need to travel more than an hour to collect water. This task mostly falls to women. It is common for Meru’s women to marry young, and 40% are married and 20% have had their first child, before they reach the age of 18.
Primary school attendance has improved in recent years with the help of government initiatives, but is still only at 56%. Secondary school enrolment is much lower, at 15%. Meru’s adult literacy rates are 87% in the south and 71% in the north.
Domestic abuse affects children and women
Domestic violence is a common and accepted part of life for the women and children of Meru. A 2008 Kenya National Bureau of Statistics survey found that 82% of children receive physical or psychological punishment at home, and 68% of women agreed it was justified for a man to beat his wife for not performing household tasks.
Insufficient health services are leaving children vulnerable
Meru’s basic social services, particularly health services, are inadequate. Just 53% of children receive full vaccinations in their first year, leaving many unprotected against diseases including polio, tetanus, tuberculosis and measles. More than 20% of children are suffering from malnutrition and many more show signs of stunted growth.
HIV/AIDS is a serious social challenge in Meru, and many children are orphaned or caring for parents who are ill. In northern Meru, one in 11 children have lost their parents and in the south, 6% are orphans. There is limited access to social and material support for these children, and many are at risk of neglect or exploitation without the protection of their parents.
We help children in Meru
SOS Children’s Villages started working with the people of Meru in 2005. The Village itself is located on the outskirts of the town and is an invaluable resource to the local population.
The SOS Social Centre provides vital support to families living in extreme poverty – helping them to feed, clothe and provide shelter and education – for their children. This is an important first step towards keeping a family in crisis together. The centre also provides health and medical services and counselling for families living with HIV/AIDS.
Loving homes for orphans
The SOS Children’s Village in Meru has 13 families that provide a stable and loving home for up to 130 children who are no longer able to live with their families. Children have the opportunity to experience a carefree childhood, growing up alongside their SOS brothers and sisters and under the care of an affectionate SOS Mother.
The SOS Nursery is a safe and happy environment for our youngest children, and children from families living in the area. The nursery allows SOS children to make friends and establish connections with their community from an early age. SOS Children is proud to be able to incorporate a class for children with special needs that is taught according to the Montessori method.
We provide a loving family home for children in Meru who have lost their parents. In our Children's Village they are nurtured and enjoy a happy childhood. Will you help them to grow, and become a child sponsor today?