EVERYTHING STARTED WITH UPENDO, which means LOVE (in the Swahili language)
THE MISSION OF LOVE FOUNDATION came to life in 2022. It is the fruit of the missionary zeal and a desire by many people to do good, who want to bring love and hope where those things are lacking, especially in Kenya.
The Foundation’s name was inspired by St. Luigi Orione on 16 May 2022, the anniversary of his canonisation. On that day, after a long period of searching, the inspiration came to call our Foundation the MISSION OF LOVE FOUNDATION. It was important to us, because St. Luigi Orione — the priest and founder of the Spiritual Family, which, trusting everything to Divine Providence, lives the charism of love by serving the poorest — became our inspiration by this coincidence.
On 29 June 2022, on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, in Krakow (Poland), we notarised a deed establishing the MISSION OF LOVE Foundation as a charity to provide aid and engage in activities helping children and young people, but also the sick and those with disabilities, individuals and families, as well as whole local communities that, for various reasons, find themselves in a difficult situation.
On 16 August 2022, the Foundation was legally entered in Poland’s Business Register (KRS).
The Foundation’s funds came from the Upendo Friends Group, providing selfless support to CDM Upendo Children’s Home in Central Kenya (Murang’a County).
FRIENDS OF UPENDO - PEOPLE WITH BOUNDLESS HEARTS
The Group originated in 2019, through the spontaneous initiative of people with boundless hearts who wanted to provide (spiritual and material) support for the missionary activities at CDM Upendo Children’s Home, entrusted to Agnieszka Gliniecka, a lay missionary from Poland, by Bishop James Maria Wainaina, Ordinary of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Murang’a in Central Kenya. The author of the idea and prime mover of all of the Friends’ activities is Dorota Gwiżdż, supported by her husband Mirosław Gwiżdż and their children. Thanks to Dorota’s passion and personal dedication, the Friends of Upendo Group expanded rapidly, with their initiatives bringing real change to the lives of 40 girls at the centre.
At the beginning of Agnieszka Gliniecka’s missionary service with Upendo (December 2018), the Children’s Home was in a very difficult situation. There was not enough of anything. The house was a mess, trained staff were in short supply and the children needed more care. Money was not there for food, medical aid, teaching materials, sports and recreational equipment, clothing. There was no access to drinking water. There was no equipment, or it was substandard — mattresses, beds, blankets, pillows, towels, buckets, dishes. There was no kitchen or dining room.
Meal culture, hygiene habits, daily routines and tasks were lacking. The educational offered was negligible.
The Home had enough funds to continue its modest existence, but help was needed if anything was to change for the better. Thanks to regular support from the Friends of Upendo Group, the children’s situation was vastly improved.
The majority of the children were placed in the home by the courts. Some are orphans, some abandoned and some the victims of human trafficking. Most of the girls have at least one parent, but their families are dysfunctional or pathological.
Many are victims of domestic violence, mainly sexual. Those were neglected and rejected children growing up in the streets. They were exposed to corruption. They experienced many forms of violence. These children require long-term therapy, but above all the experience of selfless love and healthy principles of upbringing. We direct all the funds we receive to providing them with all-round help, assisting them with their development and preparing them to start an independent life.
Some have a realistic chance of reuniting with their families somewhat soon — often grandparents, more distant relatives or elder siblings. The process, however, requires substantial commitments on our part, professional assistance, work with the families, local communities and other institutions, as well as suitable material means without which some of the activities would be impossible to start or complete.
Since 2019, the Friends of Upendo have been helping to maintain around 40 girls aged 5 to 20 residing at the Home for various reasons. During this time they have undertaken a number of initiatives towards the improvement and modernisation of Upendo Children’s Home. Projects run together with Agnieszka Gliniecka, the Polish missionary working in Murang’a Diocese in Kenya have contributed to:
- improvements in the children’s nutrition programme and the implementation of a balanced diet, thanks to which basic needs are covered at a good level;
- an improved sense of safety by co-funding a fence around the property; the installation of solar panels providing light during electricity outages (especially in the wet season);
- rainwater collection (gutters and tanks) and connection to the local water drinking-water system — MWASCO;
- improved personal hygiene thanks to a hot-water system (600 litres) using solar panels;
- significant improvements in safety and hygiene in the kitchen thanks to the construction and outfitting of a new building (gas-electric kitchen, wood-fired energy-saving kitchen, tablets, tabletops, stainless-steel sinks, pots and other necessary utensils);
- modernised and renovated bedrooms, dining rooms, toilets, play and recreation spaces, computer room, therapist’s office;
- intensified human and spiritual formation (catechisation, organised time for religious practice; group and individual therapy);
- improved teaching conditions by on-site classes, internet access, the purchase of necessary teaching aids;
- improved healthcare by working with local providers, buying necessary medication and orthopaedic equipment, seeing to medical check-ups and preventive measures;
- improved social skills through a gradual independence programme (contact with families, home visits, holidays partially with families or foster families; teaching of practical skills such as cooking, cleaning, plant and animal farming; artistic classes);
- improved quality of recreation and rest (trips, sports equipment, games and toys, library, TV set);
- preparation for independent living (education, social skills, community reintegration, work with families, informational, financial and material support — adapted to individual needs); and more.
The assistance provided so far has mainly been aimed at uplifting the Home from its stagnation, disorganisation and poverty. Hence, the goal of the first initiatives was mainly to meet the children’s existential needs. Regular donations significantly improve the sense of safety at the Home, provide stability, strengthen the hope and enable more initiatives to be taken with a view to the future.
Much was able to be done thanks to a small group of friends, and this breeds the desire to ‘do more’. The good we have done has opened our hearts wider. Observing the tangible effects of our actions, we became even more creative. We are full of ideas as to what else we can do for our charges. The love we have given the Upendo children has begun to demand even more love. Thus, after reading this, you too can involve yourself in this work!