Friends of Ngong Road was founded in 2006 by Paula Meyer after a family trip to Kenya. During that trip, she met Pastor Peter Ndungu, who had recently returned to Kenya after completing a Master’s Degree at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN. Peter was serving a congregation in the area known as the Dagoretti slums of Nairobi and was disturbed by the number of children who could not attend school because their parents and/or guardians had been affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. These impoverished families were simply unable to afford the cost of a school uniform or modest school fees.
Founded in 2006
On the flight home, Paula committed to starting an organization dedicated to ensuring that some of those children could transform their lives and have hope for their future. In early 2006, she founded two organizations – Friends of Ngong Road (FoNR), Minnesota-based 501(c)(3), and Ngong Road Children’s Foundation (NRCF), a registered Kenyan NGO. The two organizations operate with a shared mission, principles, and values. We hold a deep belief in the value of education and the transformation it can bring. Together, we support children who have the ability to succeed but not the means.
We empower Nairobi children living in poverty to transform their lives through education and support, leading to employment.
Mission StatementFriends of Ngong Road
Focused in the Dagoretti slum in Nairobi, Kenya
In Swahili, “ngong” means “knuckles” and the Ngong Hills are named after their shape, which looks like the knuckles on a fist. Our organization is named after ‘Ngong Road’, a busy two-lane road at the base of the Ngong Hills, on the outskirts of Nairobi. The Dagoretti slums, where our students live, sit alongside this road. While traveling down it, you experience loud music, packed vehicles, many pedestrians, and merchants selling everything from produce to clothing and furniture. Our campus also sits along this road, and our students participate in Saturday Program at a field next to our office, facing Ngong Road. It is truly the ‘main street’ of our students’ lives.
In 2020, about 1.5 million Kenyan adults (or 4.5% of the adult population) lived with HIV/AIDS. Kenya has the third largest impact of the epidemic in the world, along with Mozambique and Uganda. (Source: UNAIDS Data 2020). When our program began in 2006, more than 1 million children in Kenya had been orphaned due to AIDS. By 2020, it’s estimated 690,000 Kenyan children ages 0 – 17 live as AIDS orphans. And the incidence of AIDS-affected children in the Dagoretti slums remains very high. Children in our program live primarily in Dagoretti where the median household income is under two dollars per day. Approximately 50% of the children in our program are orphans, and the other 50% live with a surviving HIV+ parent. A small percentage of our students learn they too are HIV positive and we ensure they have access to antiretroviral (ARV) medications.
For a child living in the slums of Nairobi, the only real opportunity to pull themselves, and potentially their families, out of poverty is to get an education and find a job and support themselves. Through the financial support and personal encouragement of sponsors, students have the opportunity to succeed and transform their lives.
We partner with schools with a proven track record of success
We don’t own or operate any schools; instead, we partner with schools with a demonstrated track record of delivering solid academic outcomes. Students apply for participation in our program and pass a rigorous selection process before being paired with a sponsor who funds their schooling and supports their development. Students start the program between the ages of 7 and 9 (equivalent to grades 2-4) and stay in the program until graduation from a post-secondary school. When we first started sponsoring students in January of 2007, 60 children were on their way with school uniforms, shoes, and school fees paid. Friends of Ngong Road’s U.S. staff handles marketing and development, accounting, and operations activities, with considerable assistance from volunteers. The Kenya staff, through the Ngong Road Children Foundation, runs the day-to-day operations, case management, engagement, and additional programming with students, their families, and the schools they attend.
By taking an innovative approach to organization and service delivery and recruiting a cadre of highly engaged, talented volunteers and staff, one of the most at-risk populations in the world are helped to transform their lives. Learn more about our program and its impact and read stories of transformed lives. Be sure to follow us on Facebook or subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date.