KiD e.V. - Logo 100  History
 it all began...

In October, 1993, we were an overworked couple in our early 30's, eager for an exotic beach holiday away from our home in Bremen, Germany. We wanted to be so far away, in fact, that we could not be easily reached, not even by telephone. We chose our destination at random, from a travel brochure: a beach in Kenya, in a town called Diani, 40km south of Mombasa.

We knew hardly a thing about Africa, and even less about Kenya. But the brochures promised lions, blue skies over the Indian Ocean, and friendly, joyful townspeople - paradise! They forgot to mention the other "residents" of Diani: crushing poverty, high unemployment, corruption and a thriving AIDS problem. (Now, after many visits over more than 20 years, we have become quite familiar with all aspects of the town -- good and bad!)

So, naive as we were, we boarded our plane in Bremen, finally to disembark in the hot, sticky air of Mombasa, 14 hours later (the time difference in summer is +1 hour, and in winter, +2 hours). It would still be one hour's drive, plus a ferry trip across the waterway, before we would reach our hotel on Diani Beach (where the kindergarten is now located).

From the first moment, we were captivated by what greeted us: wonderful aromas that were new to us, bright colours, lovely voices and a rhythm of life so intense that we wanted to be a part of it. The contrast between the vast, barren landscape and the friendliness, helpfulness and open-mindedness of the people there made our journey an unforgettable experience. That visit was like a seed planted in our hearts, and our love for the places and people of Kenya continues to grow.

...5 months later...

...we returned - in fact, we have returned so many times that we have lost count, having long since left our "rose-coloured glasses" at home. Instead, we brought medicine, children's clothing and toys, especially for the new little friends we'd made around our favourite hotel.

With each subsequent journey we explored farther from the hotel. Eventually, we bought a plot of land and, with some difficulty, built a house. As we plunged into the African way of daily life in this coastal region, we learned that, for the cost of one cocktail at the hotel bar, we could buy enough medicine to save a life. But poverty was a barrier. For example, while malaria medicine is available in the area, children, especially, were dying of this disease because their parents could not afford the treatment.

At first we felt helpless about this situation, but very soon our helplessness turned to anger. We were not willing to put up with this! Together with some of our new African friends, we decided to get to the root of the problem. People in the area had little education and few prospects for work. This, in turn, meant low wages and poverty. In this chain of misfortune children were the weakest link. We were determined to do something for their future.

...the idea...

We believe that a positive attitude toward life begins with a full belly and a happy childhood. This belief was at the core of our idea for a kindergarten with pre-school education. We proposed our plan to friends, relatives and colleagues in Bremen. They responded with unanimous, enthusiastic approval - and generous donations. We hardly needed to ask!

Back in Kenya again, we gathered information from our local friends about how much it would cost to fund the project we envisioned. First, we would need to hire both a cook and a nursery school teacher. We would also need to buy school uniforms (as these are customary in Kenya) as well as toys for the children. And of course, we would have to stock the kitchen with cooking supplies: dishes, utensils, and food on an ongoing basis. We would need to buy first aid supplies, and be ready to pay for medical care in case of emergencies. And finally, we would need some financial reserves for field trips and miscellaneous expenses. By our calculations, we had enough funding to get started - and to make the project a success!

But this "idea" of ours needed a real roof over its head - we needed classroom space! What to do for the school building itself? We found our answer in the New Apostolic Church (NAC), not far from our house. Joshua, a friend and the rector of this congregation, called our attention to children in our immediate environs, for whom the kindergarten could represent a real chance of a better future. He offered us room in the church's fellowship hall.

We wanted to start with a limited number of children - just 16 at the beginning. This meant we were forced to make the heartbreaking, but inevitable, decision to turn away dozens of other children. We hired Miriam, a local primary school teacher, at a salary of approximately 70 Euros per month. We hired a cook from the neighbourhood, also named Miriam. For just 20 Euros per month, she made sure all the children's bellies were full during kindergarten hours.

The old Airport in Mombasa
The "old" Airport in Mombasa

Passengers on board the Mombasa ferry
Passengers on board the "Mombasa ferry"

Miriam (teacher), Joshua (manager) and Miriam (the cook) together with the KiD kids
From left: Miriam (teacher), Joshua (manager) and Miriam (the cook) together with the KiD kids.