Happy Home Orphanage


Welcome to Happy Home

The orphanage Happy Home is a project to help orphans and vulnerable children. It is located in the south-west of Kenya. Our "happy home" opened its doors the 2nd november 2006 and welcomes now 31 children.

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Brochure Happy Home (International)

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Why an orphanage in Stella?

Why an orphanage in Stella?

 Unfortunately, there are not enough orphanages to accommodate the increasing number of orphans in the Nyanza region. Happy Home was created to alleviate some of the region’s need and provides a home for orphans whose extended families are unwilling or unable to care for them after their parents’ deaths.

 Most of the time, when a child is orphaned, the extended family steps in to care for the child. Often when you ask a parent how many children they care for they will answer, “Five children of my own and four of my brother’s. And I also take care of my parents.” In cases of extreme poverty, when the cost of living already far outweighs the means of the family, taking care of another child is not always possible.


 HIV/AIDS in the province of Nyanza

Stella – a little village with a population of only a few hundred – is situated in southwestern Kenya, nestled between Lake Victoria and the Masai Mara reserve. It is lies within the Nyanza province – a region heavily affected by poverty and disease.

The Nyanza region is home to so many orphans due to the area’s high incidence and resulting high mortality rate of HIV/AIDS. In this region, a lack of education and continuing tradition contribute to the spread of this disease. It is customary for an AIDS widow (often infected herself) to marry her late husband’s brother. In many cases the woman infects her new husband and their future children, thus giving birth to a new generation of the virus.

Here are a few statistics concerning the Nyanza province taken from the 2006 United Nations Development Program (UNDP) report on human development:

· 44 years: The region’s life expectancy – the lowest in all of Kenya
· 13%: The percentage of people infected with HIV/AIDS in the region – the highest in Kenya
· 63%: The percentage of the region’s population living under the poverty line – the highest in Kenya

An Orphanage: The Most Urgent Need!


We participated in a survey of the rural needs of the region’s population. The survey asked local women what kind of support and services they needed. We expected to hear the usual answers: micro-finances, agricultural development, NGOs, etc. Instead we were told that what was most urgently needed was an orphanage.



The Birth of Happy Home

Fifteen years ago the Mdeizi Sagwa family founded the “Medicare Maternity & Nursing Home Hospital,” a clinic offering medical care to local villages. As the medical services increased in the nearby town of Migori, the hospital slowly became financially inviable and was forced to close in late 2005.

Wanting to still serve the local communities, Alfred Mdeizi Sagwa decided to convert the former clinic into an orphanage and, with the arrival and help of Isabelle Vandeplas in 2006, Happy Home began to take shape.

“In March 2006 I came to Stella to work as an agronomic researcher,” Isabelle says. “It was during this time that I met Alfred, Rose and the whole family.

In Benin, where I worked for the United Nations World Food Program, I was involved in a food-support program for orphans. It was really amazing and touching to see Benin’s local families devoted to raising orphans, often on only one salary.

Seeing what these modest families could accomplish, I promised to myself that I too would do what I could to help orphans one day and, less than six months later, my wish came true. Thanks to Rose, Alfred’s wife, who had the same dream as me, and Tom, a friend of the family, the idea of Happy Home came to be.”

This is how Alfred Mdeizi Sagwa and his wife Rose Kavulani Sagwa (known as "Mam'dogo"), a neighbor Tom Jeseremi, Isabelle Vandeplas and her husband Georges-Edouard Lelievre-Douyon together founded Happy Home. While they were very busy organizing the legal issues with the Kenyan government and transforming the clinic into a home, a team of enthusiastic people in Belgium (Christian Vandeplas, Hilde Keunen and Roel Merckx) started fund-raising.

In November 2006, all ingredients were there to welcome the first children.

      Isabelle - Rose - Tom - Edouard - Alfred

The Children

The Happy Home Children

Who Are Our Children?

Happy Home’s mission is to support the most underprivileged children in and around Stella. This means the Home not only cares for orphans but also children “in danger,” as determined by local social services.

Happy Home provides a safe, caring and happy home for its children in need, as well as regular meals and ongoing, varied education. The Home’s aim is to give these children a chance to become healthy, happy, well-adjusted people who will one day fully reintegrate back into their respective communities.

The Happy Home team recognizes that the orphanage is not always the only option and therefore works continuously with the local authorities and community members to find solutions that enable endangered and orphaned children to stay in their own families and communities. The team also sees to it that siblings and children with familial ties are not separated and instead stay and grow together.

Happy Home gives priority to the most urgent cases without any ethnic, linguistic or religious discrimination whatsoever.

Housing and Dressing our Kids

A member of the Happy Home team takes inventory of clothes donations and appropriately distributes the clothes to each child based on each child’s need. Every Happy Home child has his or her own closet and is in charge of his own “wardrobe.”

Boys and girls sleep in different dormitories and the elder kids help the younger ones, as a big group of brothers and sisters



Educating our children

Happy Home aims to provide each child with an education through curriculum-based school classes and educates the children from nursery through primary school. Thereafter, depending on each child’s abilities and aptitudes, they continue on to a community secondary school or pursue professional training. To increase the children’s chances of success, Happy Home brings in tutors after school to supervise and help with homework.

The Kenyan school system is based on the British system. Pre-nursery begins at the age of two and nursery at the age of four or five. Children begin primary school at seven years, and follow Standard 1 to 8.

The national exam at the end of primary school determines admission to secondary school. The best students have access to the national institutes – Happy Home’s children are no exception – with the other achievers going to provincial, district and village-level school.

Secondary school is comprised of four years, from Form 1 to 4 and, again, ends with a national exam, which determines possible admission to colleges and universities.
résultats à cet examen.

The Kenyan government believes that all Kenyan children should have equal access to education and encourages families to send their children to school by keeping school fees low until the end of primary. Unfortunately school fees sky rocket for secondary school, which inevitably limits access.

Through donations and fundraising, Happy Home puts money in trust to ensure that its many bright children will have the opportunity to pursue their education after primary if they so desire.

Free Time and Chores

The Happy Home team aims to create a healthy, supportive environment for its children, while being respectful of local traditions and customs. One of the challenges at Happy Home is to balance having fun (something the kids at Happy Home do well!) with learning and implementing traditional cultural practices.

We try to:

· Create a tolerant familial environment that respects local customs and habits
· Organize, distribute and execute domestic tasks
· Develop and foster the technical abilities required in a rural environment (agriculture, raising cattle, manual labor, etc.)
· Provide an environment that nurtures not only the physical but also the emotional and psychological
· Educate and integrate measures in support of great health and hygiene


Check out our photo gallery to take a peek at the kids’ daily activities. Or better yet, take some time to browse the different Happy Home Newsletters! (See below “NEWS” page).


Our Vision and Mission

Our vision

We at Happy Home want to realize the full potential of our children. We want to ensure that they will be able to reintegrate their community as healthy, happy, responsible and independent adults.

Our mission

Happy Home’s mission is to cooperate and collaborate with local authorities and members of the community to offer a chance at life and a new start to orphans and other endangered children. We aim to give them a first-class education, access to necessary health services and, above all, the opportunity to grow up healthy and happy in a safe, caring, warm and familial environment.

The Organization

The Organization

Management structure

The below chart shows our management model:












All persons involved in Happy Home’s management and fundraising are unpaid volunteers.

Only the director and Home staff receives a wage along with an external accountant to manage the Home’s funds.

The Staff

The Happy Home staff is divided into two categories, which we can define as professionals and subordinates. While the “professionals” are recruited from a broad spectrum, the subordinates are members of the local community.

Below are the primary professional and subordinate posts required for all registered Kenyan orphanages:

A) Professionals:

B) Suborinates:

À Happy Home, nous tentons de recréer un cadre familial et c’est pourquoi il y a plusieurs  «mamans ». Il nous semble important que ces « mamans » soient proches des enfants.

It’s important to Happy Home to foster a familial environment and so the Home has several “mamas” who have close, mothering relationships with all the children. The members of Happy Home’s staff are flexible and many perform multiple tasks. This way, during absences and holidays, the Home runs smoothly and the children never go without.

On top of the full-time staff, Happy Home often has visitors. There are external professionals that visit regularly, according to the Home’s needs such as academic tutors, child psychologists, etc., and the children’s families (often grandparents) are always welcome. In addition, we also have volunteers

There’s never a dull moment at Happy Home!


Board Members

Note : Sadly, Bernard Sawga left us in 2011. He rest in peace and we thank his for engagements for the children. 

Happy Home: Legally

Happy Home Kenya is classified as a “Self Help Group,” is registered with the Kenyan government and has two certificates of operation. One of these certificates expires and is renewable on the condition that the Home passes a thorough yearly inspection.

Kenya has a very rigid legal system concerning child protection, which helps ensure that Kenyan children are properly placed according to need and are adequately attended to and cared for. Three overseas not-for-profit organizations are registered and approved to make financial transfers to our Happy Home:

We are in the process of establishing Happy Home as an NGO so that it may enjoy the protection and advantages that Kenya awards to organizations that fall under that title.


registration certificate.JPG77.75 KB