Building a Church for Orphan Girls in Kenya

by Dr. Elaine Melotti Schmidt | 11.29.21

About a decade ago, Steve said he wanted to support a charity that would help someone who wasn’t like him. For those who know him, that is relatively easy to do and thus we became supporters of an orphanage and school operated by Fr. Riwa in Meru, Kenya. 

Over the last ten years, we’ve been involved in projects to provide clean water to the school (a septic system), to feed the orphans (due to repeated droughts and famine), to clothe them (the high school girls make their own clothing and that of the younger children), to facilitate literacy (The boys’ school had a library but not the girls’ school. REALLY?), to provide higher education to the girl high school graduates (both to change their individual lives and impact life in Kenya) and now to provide a space sufficiently large for all of the orphans and nearby people to worship.

Read more about Father Riwa’s story and his efforts to build St. Rita’s Church below. We request your consideration for support at the bottom of the page. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Father Riwa’s Story

Twenty years ago Father Francis Riwa was tasked to build a church in Kenya. He is finally ready to make it happen.

What took him so long? He saw children dying and abandoned in the streets and asked the bishop “How can I build a church when children are dying in the streets?”

So instead of building a church, he built an orphanage. The children being abandoned were girls, often sold off by their families. Some had HIV/AIDS and in Kenya those children were left to die. Father Riwa has even paid dowries to rescue these girls from unwanted arranged marriages to much older men.

Twenty years later Father Riwa has rescued over 1200 orphaned and abandoned children, 375 of them are girls living and thriving in the orphanage. About 250 of them are babies and toddlers with AIDS. He has recruited nuns to help care for the girls.

The girls receive an education, their health and safety is cared for and their spiritual life is full.

In Kenya prayer is part of life because they have no where else to turn. So they turn to God. At the orphanage, there is prayer in the morning and afternoon. The girls pray and give thanks that their home and health has come from generous donors who believe in the mission to uplift the girls, giving them education, safety and community.

With so many girls and no church nearby, Father Riwa is finally ready to build the church. Just like the orphanage, the church will serve as a safe space for prayer, worship, quiet reflection and fellowship for the girls and the community.

Read Elaine’s full thoughts on why to support Father Riwa and the St. Rita’s Church project.


To donate please use the button below. Use the form on our contact page to get in touch with Steven & Elaine directly with any questions. Thank you in advance for any support you’re able to offer.


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