LIFT Family Unification – What is it?

LIGHT UP HOPE’S MISSION IS TO PROVIDE HEALING ORPHAN CARE AND LIGHT A PATH OUT OF POVERTY. We accomplish this goal through programs which are intentional about providing emotional and spiritual care, as well as, physical care; educational opportunities; mentorship; and life skills training; to orphans, other vulnerable children, and young adults in impoverished communities in Kenya.

Our LIFT program is a community-based orphan care model that aims to accomplish our mission in the communities where we work to minimize the need for orphans and vulnerable children to be placed into institutional care (an orphanage or children’s home) and to thereby support family unification; we hope to consequently eliminate the negative effects (1)  of long-term institutional care on children in these communities. The primary cause of children being placed into institutional care in Kenya is poverty – defined by their parent’s inability to provide food security, education, and health care. The LIFT program addresses this root cause of institutionalization by identifying orphans and vulnerable children in impoverished areas where children are at risk of institutionalization due to poverty and/or parental death and lending support to help the family provide for the child’s needs while retaining the child within their family.

Once children are registered in the program, assistance is provided to the child’s caretakers with resources for the child: food, education, and health care, as well as mentorship and empowerment of the parents, guardians, or foster families through parent-led community groups. These groups are designed to keep the parents engaged and accountable for their children’s needs and to keep the community involved in solving the challenges they face to provide a better future for their children. Additionally, the children who are registered in our LIFT program who perform well in primary school are eligible for inclusion in our high school sponsorship program and post-secondary adult transitional program, Joseph’s House , which provides mentorship, life skills training, and scholarships for university and trade school students.

Light Up Hope is currently implementing the LIFT program in one rural community – the village of Kibingoti (which is located in central Kenya) and two urban slum areas of Nairobi: Kwa Njenga and Umoja 3.

The major challenge faced in all three communities is unemployment.  In Kibingoti most families own a small plot of land, which they are able to use for subsistence farming, making food security dependent on the amount of rain and whether or not it produces a quality harvest.  In the urban slum areas, lack of employment leads most parents of the children in our program to look for work on a daily basis, at low-paying jobs.  Because of unemployment these parents are unable to feed their children a stable diet or provide for their eduction and health care.  The stress of unemployment also leads many families to break down and for youths and adults to enter into drug and alcohol abuse and/or crime.  Without intervention, these children have no access to the resources needed to break this cycle. They begin their lives at a significant disadvantage in society and are more prone to be stuck in the cycle of poverty.

In the past, children’s rights advocates often have sought institutional care models (orphanages and children’s homes) as the solution to providing these children with their basic needs. But once their basic needs of food, shelter, and education were met, it was found the children had lost a major emotional need – the need to be loved by and united with their family.  By working with both the children and their parents/guardians we hope to stabilize the child and the entire family unit for a brighter future.  Our intention is to meet both their physical needs and their emotional need to stay connected and attached to their parents, guardians, siblings, and community.

We need your help to fully fund this program.  Follow this link to make a donation to our LIFT communities in Kibingoti, Kwa Njenga and Umoja 3.


1. Children in Institutional Care: Delayed Development and Resilience, Marinus H. van IJzendoorn, 2011

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