As Nyumbani approaches its 25th anniversary, we wanted to take a look back at the program’s earlier years and its amazing growth since its founding in 1992.
Father D’Agostino founded Nyumbani in a peak time of the HIV/AIDS crisis where orphanages were turning away infants and children with HIV/AIDS. Taking it into his own hands, Father D’Ag founded Nyumbani and began taking in positive children. From the beginning, they provided solace and care to the babies and children. What began with 3 children quickly grew and now Nyumbani serves over 4,000 children every year.
Today the survival rate and treatment for the HIV/AIDS children is drastically better and more successful than when Nyumbani Children’s Home was starting out. Reflecting on the early years highlights how far Nyumbani and the quality of life and conditions for those with HIV/AIDS has come.
Rob Sellers, professor of theology and missions emeritus at Hardin-Simmons University’s Logsdon Seminary, shared an emotional anecdote from a visit to Nyumbani in 2002 in an piece he published in The Baptist Standard.
At Nyumbani Orphanage for AIDS-positive Kenyan children, we were moved deeply by the experience of holding and comforting those at different stages of dying from a frightful virus. The social room where we gathered to sing and laugh with 24 eager youngsters gave a view through its windows of a small, unadorned cemetery where most of them were destined to go.
A sobering thought occurred to me as we played with those children: Expressing love to the “least of these” may keep us from mingling with the “greatest of these.”
While we were at Nyumbani, the newly crowned Miss Universe arrived with an entourage of photographers and handlers. Great excitement preceded her visit; the orphanage staff stood around in small groups chatting about the coming visit of so famous and beautiful a guest. While we knew she was visiting, our students never saw her. Not one of us was drawn away from that modest space hoping to fraternize with celebrity.
Compassion locked our arms in tight embrace around those frail, ill children who had settled peacefully in our laps and claimed a firm spot in our hearts.During those minutes we spent in the presence of the dying, we were learning love is always the better choice.”
Seller’s experience in 2002, is a snap shot of how different the survival rate and health of many of Nyumbani’s children were in the Home’s infancy. Today, it is very rare for a child in the home to pass away and the medical care is the highest quality, especially with the addition of the Nyumbani Diagnostic Laboratory in 2011, huge advancements in the medical field, and continued funding from organizations such as PEPFAR and Johnson & Johnson.
Father D’Agostino’s dream became a reality over the last 25 years and now Nyumbani is one of the leading HIV/AIDS care organizations in Africa. We look forward to another 25 years of growth and advancement!
To participate in our anniversary fundraising campaign, click here!