The Restart Children’s Centre, now located in Langalanga, just outside the town of Gilgil in the Rift Valley area of Kenya, was set up following horrific post-election violence, in 2008. This resulted in over a thousand deaths and more than 500,000 people being displaced from their homes and villages, with a large number ending up in Gilgil. Many of them were children, who had been orphaned, abandoned, or driven out of their homes by parents who could no longer support them. They suffered starvation, physical and sexual abuse at the hands of gangs on the streets.
Local resident Mary Coulson was so horrified by the growing number of street children that she felt compelled to do something about it. She found a modest property to rent and initially gave shelter to just six boys, providing refuge for those desperately in need: Restart Africa had been born.
The original buildings were in a poor state of repair, with the boys all in one dormitory room crammed with bunk beds, often sleeping two to a bunk. The toilets were of the ‘long drop’ kind (a hole in the ground). The children’s outside area often flooded during the frequent rains. The dining hall doubled up as a classroom, entertainment room and assembly hall. However the children were fed regular meals, received an education and were safe from the horrors they had endured on the streets. As time went on Restart also started to take in girls, many of whom had suffered horrific sexual abuse. The number of children eventually swelled to over 100, ages ranging from just a few months old to youths in their late teens. The old Restart building was bursting at the seams and became unfit for purpose.
New premises were desperately needed to house all the children. Plans were drawn up, and through fundraising and generosity, the building of the new Restart premises began in 2013.
Just before Christmas 2014, the children moved into the new Centre to spend their first Christmas in their new home. In April 2015 the orphanage was officially opened by the British High Commissioner, Dr Christian Turner, in front of several hundred special guests including friends and supporters of Restart as well as many distinguished government officials.
The UK Trust was created in November 2009 by Ted Maidment, who led the Trust until he retired in July 2015. Ted played a key role in the development of the Trusts activities, and was responsible for building up a substantial number of supporters and donors which allowed Restart to survive and grow in Kenya. By the time he stepped down, Restart had moved into its new buildings, and the number of children being looked after had grown to over a hundred.
Restart Africa now runs thriving local projects which help to fund and support the Restart Orphanage as well as employing many local Gilgil residents. Find out more on our Projects page.