Bala Children’s Centre was set up in 2000 by Bishop Domnic Ochoo, who took ten children into his home.
The area where he lives in South West Kenya had been ravaged by the AIDS epidemic, leaving many children without parents. Over a million children in Kenya have been orphaned due to AIDS.
Bishop Domnic has developed a Kenyan model of care for some of these orphans, where the children live with approved families and come to the Centre every day to use the primary and secondary school. Bishop Domnic believes he has been called to ‘to look after orphans and widows in their distress’ (James 1:27). There are 400 children who are cared for through the Bala Children’s Centre, a number of whom were street children. The Centre is a source of real, practical help and support for these children, providing pastoral care to nurture them and to make up for what their parents can no longer give.
The UK part of the charity was set up in 2001 to support the development of the Children’s Centre and is based in Cirencester. It is a grass roots charity with a small management committee.
We are proud to say that ALL money raised goes directly to the Children’s Centre; any administrative costs are shared by the committee members and others.
The ‘Kenyan model’ was developed in response to evidence which showed that institutional care does not always meet the developmental and other needs of young children. By separating children from vital sources of their identity and from support through families and communities, orphanages can often fail to prepare children for independent life. A child placed within a family will benefit from care, love and socialisation, which that family and community life provides.
Bala Children’s Centre is a community-focused child support centre, where the majority of children supported stay with relatives, church members and foster parents. Some still live in their parents’ homes where the oldest child or, in some cases, very old grandparents act as the head of the family. This is to ensure that there’s continuity in that family home. Most of the children are happy living together in their parents’ homes as long as they get all they need right there.
For those who have nowhere to live, the Bala Children’s Centre provides a safe and supportive refuge. There are now over 100 children who live at the Centre.