A RESCUE CENTRE FOR STREET CHILDRENOUR VISIONA SAFE FAMILY FOR EVERY KENYAN CHILDOur Mission is to rescue, rehabilitate, reintegrate and restore street families.


A Safe Family for every Kenyan Child


To rescue, rehabilitate, reintegrate and ensure resocialization of street families.

Our Values

Background Information

Watoto Wema Centre was established in 2004 by Wasilwa Lusweti. It initially operated as Shepherd Orphanage and Educational Centre in Kayole. He established it, to offer a home for the high number of destitute orphans whose parents had succumbed to HIV Aids. He also offered a home to vulnerable children who were deserted by poverty-stricken parents. The centre was established to offer shelter, basic education and hope for a better future. Since its inception Watoto Wema Centre has successfully overseen 171 children reintegrated into society, re-joined to their families or gain sustainable employment through its activities.

The centre was changed to Watoto Wema Centre in 2009. Marjolein van der Kolk joined the centre in 2009 to run the institution. She has since then opened the home up to street children, who are currently the majority housed at the centre.

Watoto Wema Centre strives to provide the children, with the most essential and fundamental needs in life. The main objective of the centre is to ensure that the children grow up surrounded by the love of their own family. The centre uses a refined re-integration process that adheres to UN standards. The centre also fosters a compassionate, friendly environment to ensure that the protégés thrive and find a sustainable vocation in life.

The Centre was started by the initial founders to provide a home to street children as well as abandoned children brought in from the streets. It started with 46 children and a 6roomed mabati house that has gradually grown into a children’s home in Ruai that has 2 hostels donated courtesy of Safaricom Foundation, KCDF and others. The land and other amenities have come to fruition courtesy of fundraising efforts and personal donations from various well-wishers over time.


A Safe Home for Every Kenyan Child

Our Pillars



Watoto Wema Centre works in partnership with the government of Kenya to rescue street children. Most children are rescued by government social workers, and through the police and/or local children’s department the children are placed in Watoto Wema Centre. Once rescued and admitted then the Centre initiates the rehabilitation process.


Once rescued and admitted to the Centre. We monitor and rectify their behavior. Some children can join school within the first week, others need some more time and counseling to get back into the rhythm. Drug abuse, traumatic experiences as well as living and surviving on the streets, without their families usually frustrates the children. They adapt and adjust to the centre in varying degrees. Rehabilitation at the Centre triggers behavior change especially enabling them to acquire concentration habits. Once they are able to sit through lessons they are admitted to the local government Primary school. Others who have stayed out of school for too long and are above the age of 15 will follow vocational training like mechanics, carpentry, or hairdressing.


Watoto Wema Centre believes that a child’s family is fundamental to the mental and social wellbeing of all children. Poverty and lack of resources should not undermine the ability of any family to take care of its own. Problems can be fixed as long as they are not life-threatening. Watoto Wema Centre spends resources, time and effort to tracing the biological families of the children. Amending relationships and reuniting families is a key effort of the centre. The centre ensures that once children are placed back to their families the Centre will support with education and follows up on their wellbeing through Watoto Wema Centre's social workers.


Street children typically have a bad reputation in society. They are regarded as thieves, rude, abusive, miscreants. This stigma gives the children a hard time in their efforts to re-join the community as they fear society’s stigma. We work closely with community leaders, teachers, and religious leaders to ensure a smooth transition of children back into society. Most children end up on the street due to poverty. To ensure sustainability we train the guardians on business skills, where possible we assist them with a small start-up fund for their business. We do this training in cooperation with The Bread Initiative Kenya. An organization of professional successful business people that contribute philanthropically towards this initiative.


Watoto Wema Centre believes that prevention of children running (or returning) to the streets, is better than rescue and rehabilitation. Watoto Wema Centre therefore supports families at risk with entrepreneurship training, parental skills, psychological counselling, school fees and emergency food relief. With this we hope that the family will be able to pick up their lives again and make a good start for a better future as a family as a whole.

Challenges & Threats

Current Challenges

Wema Children Centre has successfully rehabilitated and overseen 171 successful stories of former street children, who have gone through tertiary institutions and found gainful employment, reunited with their families or gotten married and left the street life. The current success rate is approximately 80% with 20% going back to the street life and rejecting rehabilitation.

The onset of the Covid pandemic pushed the government to assign street children to various children’s home across the country. Wema Children’s home got 20 additional children of whom 9 still remain at the centre today.

The centre faces cash shortages and resource shortages from time to time. The income generating activities are at the inception stages and offer minimal income streams against the budget. Financial and resources Support and partnerships will complement the income streams and promote sustainability of the centre.

Income Generating Projects

Watoto Wema Centre depends on funding from donors and well-wishers. It has also taken the initiative to initiate income generating projects to generate income to sustain activities within the centre.

  • Sale of Water

    Watoto Wema Centre is situated in a dry area of Nairobi, where residents, as well as the centre periodically experience severe water shortages. Watoto Wema Centre has drilled a borehole, which provides water for use at the centre, as well as for sale to the local community by peddling with a tuktuk.

  • Greenhouses

    Watoto Wema Centre grows vegetables for sustenance in 3 greenhouses. Surplus produce is sold to the local community. Children also get the opportunity to learn farm skills by assisting in gardening work in the greenhouses.

  • Dairy Project

    Watoto Wema Centre has dairy cows that give the children daily fresh milk. The remaining milk is sold to the local shops and hotels. The dairy cows also produce biogas that is used to cook breakfast and light the home with electricity. The children are involved in the daily care of the cows, teaching them agricultural skills.

  • Heri Wema Health Centre

    The centre has hired professional medical staff, equipped a laboratory and a pharmacy. When the children are sick they are treated by a medic that they know well, reducing the anxiety of going to the hospital. The hospital is also open for the public. The facility and income is also used to cover the medical cost of treating the children in Watoto Wema Centre.
    Heri Wema Health Centre is NHIF accredited, so if you have an NHIF cover kindly register with us, so you can benefit from the treatment.

  • Welding and Saloon

    The centre started vocational training for the children by establishing, a welding shop and a saloon. The welding shop can make metal window frames, doors, interior metal designs, gates etc. The teenagers learn here welding skills, to enable them to acquire artisan skills through apprenticeship with the aim of encouraging them to venture into self-employment in the future. Income from these also assists to cover the running cost.
    The Saloon has the same philosophy. Teenagers learn hair dressing, shaving, pedicure, manicure and beauty. The aim is to equip them with sufficient skills for self-employment. The Saloon is open to the members of the community. The income contributes to the running costs of the centre as well.

  • Volunteering

    The centre is establishing an active volunteering arm to complement its income streams and is currently reaching out to local and international entities willing to support this endeavor through its volunteer goodwill ambassadors as well as the administrators.

Case Study

My name is Doreen

I am 10 years old. I live in Watoto Wema Centre with my younger sister.