The History of NLAI
In 1994, Susanne and Leif Madsen together with their five children were sent to Kenya as missionaries from Betania Church Centre, Denmark. They spent the first few years visiting different tribes within Kenya. There they would preach and teach the gospel and inform about AIDS, hygiene and nutrition etc. They became familiar with the Kenyan culture, through socialising with the locals and living and eating with them. This knowledge and cultural understanding has proved to be an invaluable help in their work with children, youth and adults in Nakuru. In 1995 they met Pastor Ford and his wife Eunice in the Filadelfia Church in Nakuru. The Church had a feeding program for street children, where they provided free meals three times a week, under a big tree by the Church. In 1996 Susanne and Leif began working together with Pastor Ford and Eunice, where they worked together to expand the feeding program. The street children could now receive food every day, enjoy some hours away from the streets and socialise with adults.
Gradually, the program extended, offering the children basic teaching in English, Mathematics and Swahili. Classes in garment making, carpentry and leatherwork were quickly added to the list of offers for youth. An adult class, for illiterate adults and youth who have had little or no former schooling was also started, running every afternoon from Monday to Friday. With all these classes, the program started taking the shape of a school with mainly street children as students.
The need for a place where those children that were homeless could live became evident, as they would simply return to the streets after school. At the end of 1997, the first seven boys moved into a simple wooden home. The boys had built their own beds in the carpentry class and were thankful to get off the streets and to get a new chance in life. The New Life Boys House has expanded and about 45 boys are now part of it. 65 girls are part of the New Life Girls Home that was opened in 2003.
An increasing number of children turned to the school to get a primary education. In 2003 Susanne and Leif employed educated teachers to increase the teaching standard, and an approved school from nursery to class eight could now be introduced. For the first time, in 2005, the school was given permission to conduct national class eight examinations. This meant that the students now could receive an examination certificate from the school. The leather and carpentry classes have since been stopped, but the garment making school, where 35 young, vulnerable women can receive an education in garment making is still running.
What started under the shade of a tree has now become New Life Africa School, with about 550 students. Furthermore NLAI supports students at other local primary schools, secondary schools, practical education, colleges and universities.
In 2004 Susanne and Leif became aware of the great need amongst young vulnerable women and teenagers who lived on the streets and worked as prostitutes. Therefore a women’s crisis centre was opened in 2006 in collaboration with Filadelfia Church and Danish International Development Agency (Danida) (applied through International Aid Services). At the centre abused women and teenagers can live for short or long periods of time.
Susanne and Leif visited Nakuru’s dumpsite for the first time in 2004 and were shocked to see the needs of the children and women living in that area. A little church, which became a gathering point for these young women, was therefore started and classes in Christianity, needlework, reading and writing were offered. A small informal nursery school was started where the women’s children were given food and a little teaching. More women could be offered help when a large donation from an all-day charity telethon in Denmark in benefit of African orphans in 2005 made it possible to build a crisis centre for the teenagers and women who lived at the dumpsite as well as a day-care for their children. The newly built centre was named Tumaini Jipya, which means “new hope” and later NLAI started a nursery school on the same compound for the women’s children. Here at New Life Africa Tumaini Nursery School 60 children, primarily from the dumpsite, receive food and schooling.