The welfare of its street children, a high percentage of whom are orphaned by HIV/AIDS, presents an on-going challenge to modern Kenya. The levels of poverty in which these children live makes it very difficult for them to access basic services, deepening their marginalisation from the wider community and increasing their likelihood of becoming involved in sex tourism. A study conducted by UNICEF and the Government of Kenya indicates that there are around 15,000 children involved in sex tourism in Kenya’s coastal regions. Orphans were highlighted in the report as a particularly vulnerable group.
The Wema Centre has grown organically from being a home catering for six street girls in 1993 to becoming a safe haven from over 500 girls, many of whom go on to live normal, healthy, independent lives. It currently operates three homes providing shelter for almost 200 children, mostly girls, offering complete protection against sexual abuse and exploitation. Additionally, through various schools, centres, outreach and partner bodies Wema reaches over 13,000 children and vulnerable young people in slum communities in the Mombasa Coastal Province and the Thika Central Province.