YOUNG MUSLIM ASSOCIATION & GARISSA MUSLIM CHILDREN'S HOME
INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
The Garissa Muslim Children's Home (presently called Young Muslim Children’s Home), a project of the Young Muslim Association is located at Garissa town which is the Provincial Headquarter of North Eastern Province of Kenya. Garissa is about 380km to the East of Nairobi and shares international borders with Somalia to the east (200km).
The region where the center is located is climatically categorized as Semi Arid. The inhabitants are of Somali decent and are Nomadic pastoralist. Their main occupation is livestock rearing and they move constantly from one place to another in search of water and pasture.
There is also a small farming community along the River Tana in Garissa. The area has low rainfall, which mostly falls in 2 seasons – May and November. However, there is periodical failure of these seasonal rainfalls leading to occasional dry spells and drought. Drought leads to death of animals and displacement of human beings rendering them destitute.
This scenario creates a whole lot of poor people. It is estimated that 80% of the inhabitants are poor. They require constant interventions by way of ration supply and basic needs such as water and health. Most of the social services such as health, water and education are grossly inadequate leading to perpetual state of backwardness in all these fields.
Historically, this region which was hitterto referred to as NFD was a disputed territory to which both Kenya and Somalia laid claim. The inhabitants too were inclined towards seceding from Kenya and joining Somalia during the pre-independence and the earlier years of post independence (1963 – 1968).
This led to war between local insurgents (supported by Somalia) and the Kenya Government. This war was referred to as “Shifta” wars. These wars together with intermittent droughts led to the death of many people and the displacement of many others. This created a huge lot of orphans and destitute children who roamed in the streets of urban centers where they believed they will survive.
Incidentally towns are referred to by the poor as (Miskeen koris) a place where the poor can survive and the displaced children are referred to as “Iskoris” (self rearing). These children depended largely on leftovers and hand outs from willing helpers.