Nyumbani was founded in 1992 by an American Jesuit priest, Father Angelo D’Agostino.
In the early 1990s, Father Angelo D’Agostino discovered that orphanages in Kenya were turning away infants with HIV/AIDS.
So he took matters into his own hands. He rented a tenement and adopted three abandoned HIV-positive infants.
Along with Sister Mary Owens, I.V.B.M., and a nurse, Father D’Agostino – who is also a doctor and a psychiatrist – started Nyumbani Children’s Home on a shoestring. From the beginning, they provided solace and care to babies and children with HIV/AIDS. Soon, the three children became six, and the six became 12. Nyumbani now serves more than 4,000 children every year.
A vision of care and self-reliance
Though Nyumbani’s beginnings were humble, Father D’Agostino and Sister Mary saw from the start the great need to help not only those children suffering from HIV/AIDS but children and elderly left vulnerable in the disease’s wake. They long planned to build Nyumbani Village to provide high quality care and education, and to build self-reliance and hope in communities laid bare by HIV/AIDS.
A tireless advocate
Father D’Agostino was known for his kindness, but also for his willingness to fight for Nyumbani’s children. He fought successfully to get much-needed – and unaffordable – anti-retroviral drugs. Nyumbani’s founder also worked to combat the stigma that kept children with HIV/AIDS out of public schools in Kenya, winning a landmark court case in 2004. (This led one attorney to remark that it may have helped that Father D’Agostino packed the courtroom with Nyumbani children.)
In his long career, Father D’Agostino won many hearts and many humanitarian awards. But he was most proud of the smiling faces and healthy futures of the children and families who call Nyumbani home.
Leading Nyumbani into the future
When Father D’Agostino died unexpectedly in 2006, Sister Mary became Nyumbani’s executive director, continuing and expanding on the Nyumbani founder’s vision.
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