Meet the Children

David is the last born child in a family of two boys, both of whom are intellectually challenged. He started at Gilgil Special School in January 2024 and is boarding in the boys’ hostel. His father is a casual worker and lives in a house constructed of mud with an iron sheet roof. David’s mother is bi-polar and faces problems accessing medication. She recently broke her arm in an accident and the arm has not healed properly. David was introduced to Kivuli by well wishers who saw the strain the father was facing.

Faith is the fifth born child in a Maasai family living on the outskirts of Gilgil. She has cerebral palsy and with the fundraising support of her sponsor (Hope), Faith recently underwent surgery to release tendons in her legs. With intense physiotherapy in the Kivuli physiotherapy room (funded by Oundle School), as well as continuation at home, Faith is now able to walk with aids. Faith is excelling in her studies at the local mainstream Township School, and it is hoped that she will progress to Secondary School in 3 years time.

Simon (left) comes from the outskirts of Gilgil. He was born with cerebral palsy and spina bifida and uses a wheelchair. Simon depends on his single mother for support. Ian (right) also has spina bifida and underwent surgery recently. It is hoped that his mobility will improve over time with intense physiotherapy sessions.

Metrine is the daughter of Gilgil Special School’s groundskeeper, Linet (a single mother). Metrine has severe cerebral palsy caused by contracting meningitis as a baby. Metrine is also epileptic and needs to take regular medication.

Meet the Staff

Rhoda trained as a special educational needs teacher. She is married to Peter and has 3 grown up children. Rhoda arrived at Gilgil Township School in 1995 to start a special unit which initially served six children in a small wooden classroom with very limited resources. In 1998, a chance meeting with Paula Pape saw the start of a wonderful partnership with Paula supporting Rhoda with resource materials. In order to protect the children whilst travelling to and from school and to enable those from farther afield to be able to access an education, in 2008 the first boarding hostel was built and Kivuli Trust was born. By 2012, Gilgil Special School had become a school in its own right and a second hostel was built. Rhoda was appointed Deputy Headteacher of GSS. The school has grown over the years from 3 to 6 classrooms and from 5 to 12 teaching staff. Rhoda was appointed Manager of the Kivuli Hostels by the recently newly established Kivuli Hostels CBO which manages the operations within Kenya.

Caroline joined the Kivuli staff in 2021 working in the kitchens but was more recently transferred to the boys boarding hostels where she is now a live-in carer. Caroline has a grown-up daughter and strong family support from her three sisters. Prior to taking up her role at Kivuli, Caroline worked in catering and design. Caroline says: ‘Taking care of these children is for me not just a job but a calling. I want the children to feel loved and cared for in a home from home environment. My job gives me so much joy and satisfaction, making a positive difference in the lives of these special children.’

Peter is the Kivuli physiotherapist and oversees all medical issues within the hostels. He qualified in 2016 and previously worked in a hospital before moving with his wife and daughter to Gilgil to take up his role at Kivuli. Every day is different for Peter. He has his regular children who receive therapy during the day, but also attends to other medical problems and is responsible for the medication requirements of children with conditions ranging from diabetes to epilepsy. Peter says: “Working with these children is the most fulfilling job you can ever have. They are honest and easy to deal with and brighten my day from morning to night with their smiles, playfulness and excitement. I have helped many children move from wheelchair to walking. I have had to come to terms with learning that ‘patience pays’.”

Mary joined the Kivuli staff in March 2016 when her daughter Anne joined the school as a boarder in the Kivuli hostels. Anne suffered brain damage after contracting meningitis as a baby – an illness which took the life of her twin brother, George and later complications with her shunt saw Mary losing her daughter Anne too. Mary started helping in the kitchen and later moved to be Store Manager. Her recent promotion to Assistant Manager of the Kivuli Hostels is testament to her hard work, loyalty, commitment and dedication as well as unwavering support of Rhoda. Mary comments: ‘The thing I love most about my job is being an advocate for the rights of special children – speaking up for them when they can’t talk, being their legs when they can’t walk and holding their hands and leading them forwards to a better and brighter future.’