Little Sisters of the Poor: Nyumba Ya Wazee

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Community service can be defined as an activity or a job that is performed in order to benefit the community, institutions or the less fortunate people, the job can be done by one person or a group of people. Community service is voluntary; therefore no payment is expected for those who carry out these activities. Community service on the other hand can be defined as activities that are performed in order for the student to apply their academic learning into experience so that they can have personal development.

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There are several reasons for doing community service, some of which includes fulfillment of the requirements of a school before graduating; secondly it’s a way of giving back to the community and helping those in needs, it also creates a platform for making a difference in the society by changing the poor conditions of public institutions and make them better through financial donations, buying materials that may be required and joining hand with the institutions management to grow the institution.

There are several benefits that a student experience from community involvement, which include developing real world skills, problem solving skills, team work and collaboration, effective communication, time management and getting impacted from a real practical world.

Community service benefit additionally enables those taking an interest to think about the positive influence they are making in the public and the society they are serving. The people participating in community involvements benefit more by understanding more on what the society is suffering from and the role they can play to help them, and also the effect of their commitments towards those in need of help. Those people gets exposed to those whom they are saving, they are exposed to different environmental conditions and situations.

Nyumba ya wazee is the place I did my community service, which is based in Kasarani, community service is a program at United States International University where students identify a certain institution like homes for the elderly, children homes, nongovernmental institution or hospitals where they offer voluntary services that helps in building the community either financially, emotionally and physical duties. The students are required to visit a certain institution and work or volunteer to offer services for a period of 10 weeks and atleast 3 hours a day which is equivalent to 90 hours, which essentially will be of great benefit to the community.

With that I got the opportunity to work at Nyumba ya wazee which is an elderly care centre, the management prepared me by explaining the homes goals, missions and the work I would do.


Nyumba ya wazee is a home that was established in 1839 by a woman called Jeanne Jugan who was living in France, she got the idea to start the home after she met an old woman who was paralyzed and walking alone in the streets of France and had no one to assist her, she gave her a helping hand and escorted her to her home and after a few talk with the woman she learnt she had no family, that touched her heart and she felt that she needs to open a place where such elder women would be taken care of part time, and from that time, the congregation of this women grew to a bigger one and because of this success, the organization was extended internationally and in different countries including Kenya.

In Kenya the home has three branches which is in Kasarani, Mombasa an area known as Tudor in Eldoret. The main objectives of the home are to enroll elderly women, where they are taken care of by giving them food, spiritual nourishment, shelter, and any other help that they may require. So that these people can enjoy the remaining days of their lives in a home that has caring people, because some of them have no family members. In this home there are borders and day scholars, the day scholars are brought to the home at 9:00am and are picked at 7:00 pm and the borders live in the home. Majority of these people living here are aged 60 years and above.

Other services offered at this home is physical exercises for them, helping them to shower and putting on clothes, showing them acceptability and giving them any other comfort that they may require, thanks to the founder Jeanne Jugan who came up with this noble vision, which is helping many in Kenya, in Africa and across the world.


I found the home very comfortable for these elderly women and men; it’s was a clean and orderly place in a serene environment for people to live in without much noise pollution, although it’s close to the road.

I live around USIU and the home is in Kasarani just opposite stadium, so I found it very convenient for me to go there using the school van, so the transport was not that much. I would get to the home at 9:00 am and it was a great joy to work with these people, I had the opportunity to wake them up, take them out to get some sunlight, I would make the beds and help them take their breakfast.

The home is very nice with a good garden; the internal finishing is made of good quality cemented floors, corridors and compound where the elderly could walk conveniently with their wheel chairs.

The other advantage about this home is that it is conveniently located at Thika road where there is Neema hospitals where these people are rushed to hospital when they become ill; this is just close to three meters away from the home.

Another feeling that I got about the place is sympathy for these elderly people, I could not fathom the thought that one day I would also grow old like these women, some with health issues like cancer, leprosy, others were paralyzed and blind and they required a lot of attention.

I was also remorseful on how some of these people ended up here because some did not have parents, family members or loved once, I therefore was even grateful for having loving parents. It was an eye opening experience to know that being young is for a season so now that I have the opportunity to work hard as a young person with energy, I will do it because at one time age will not allow someone to walk all around in different place because the legs will not be that strong.

For the nyumba ya wazee management, I found them very friendly and welcoming to new people that visit the home.


The heart of giving

I have learnt the importance of giving and sharing with the less fortunate people in our society, because not everyone is lucky to have a family that will take care of them when they are too old. When people donate their finances to homes like Nyumba ya wazee the institutions is strengthened to keep on taking care of this people, provide food, clothing, shelter and they also continue meeting the bills of the home such as electricity, salaries of staffs and the medical bills of the people.

The advantages of being young

After I visited Nyumba ya wazee, I learnt that being youthful is just seasonal, right now someone can play sports, go to the gym and swimming but at 80 years it will be very difficult to do such activities, therefore it’s time to embrace this season and enjoy life in a positive way before we get to the age where even taking a shower you will need the help of someone else.

Every desire that one has in life is achievable when one is still young and have the energy to look for money and invest, failure to which age might catch up with someone and you realized that you did not do anything productive with your life, and at 70 years there will be no strength and energy and the body will also not be flexible.

Team work

I have learnt the importance of team work especially carrying out a duty that requires a lot of hard work. The time I spent at Nyumba ya wazee I realized that cooking for all the people in the home, doing their cleaning cannot be done by one person, but when people work together as a group, they accomplish the missions in few hours.

Socialization and listening skills

I have learnt a lot from this old women, some of them gave me their personal stories and could see me as their grandchild and would advice me on different issues concerning life such as working hard, taking care of myself as a woman and helping the needy, and will this I developed socializing skills with these old women, because I never knew that I can chat with an older women and have a good time, but the time spent here was quality time, I listened to stories some which were funny and others were very sad.

Act of patience

Before I went for community service, I was in a rush of accomplishing different tasks, but when you start dealing with the old people, you realize they are not fast in doing things such as walking and eating and I had no choice but to adjust to their speed. I developed patience even when addressing them, I had to talk politely and no shouting.

Other virtues

Other virtues that I got to gain from the home are time management, where everything has to be done at the right time and any delay will affect the program of the home. I had to be in the home exactly by 9:00 am so I learnt the art of being punctual and discipline.



One of the major activities that I was expected to perform was to clean the home, I would wash the dormitories, sweep the compound, collect any litters around the compound, folding clothes after they were dry and putting them in different cabinets. Washing of clothes was done with a washing machine so it was easier and a good way of maintaining hygiene of the home.


The meals were cooked by the cooks but I was allowed to do the preparation such as peeling of potatoes and tomatoes, and after it’s ready, I would serve the food to them and those that couldn’t feed by themselves it was my role to feed and clean them.

Personal care

Most of the elderly people who were on wheel chairs could not move by themselves, so it was my duty to walk them around, put them under the shade when it was too hot and when they wanted to bask, I took them to a place where there was some sunshine.

Other personal care activities include cutting their nails, removing their sweaters when it was too hot and put their sweaters on when it was too cold, taking them to the dining room, combing their hair and put them to sleep when they got tired.


I had the opportunity to socialize with old men and women of different ages, some were so friendly and had a kind heart, and others were so rude and did not want to talk to anyone, so I was forced to leave them alone. I received a lot of counseling and some true stories of their life experiences when they were young people.


The saddest incidence that happed is when 3 old men did, both of them peacefully died in their sleep. The first one died during my first week of community service, the second one died in the 5th week and the third one died in the ninth week it was very sad in these three different days. Others kept falling ill of diseases like hurting bones, malaria, even falling in the bathroom causing them injuries and had to be rushed to the hospital and the whole home was left very sad, wondering if they would come back to the home safe and okay.

There was also a case where the workers did not stay so much in the home; majority seemed to be looking for greener pastures, therefore the management had to keep on replacing new one, now and then.

The positive incidences that I saw in the home were when elderly people that had been abandoned in the streets were rescued by well wishers and brought to the home.


According to the national policy on older persons and ageing by the Department of Social Development in the Ministry of Labour Social Security & Services, these people are an asset to the society because they are the people that brought development in the country when they were still young people.

The policy provides a framework that addresses the challenges which are facing the older people, in which their rights needs to be recognized, because ageing is process that begin when one is born and therefore there is a need to prepare for old age in human development.

The approach perceives that older people are a vital portion of the National Population whose rights must be recognized, regarded, protected and advanced. Plainly the number of inhabitants of the older people is growing quickly because of wealth, better wellbeing, enhanced nourishment, and advancement in innovation in treatment, early mediation and fix of illnesses that have expanded future. This is a noteworthy achievement and speak to potential regarding working force, capabilities, encounters, which Kenya needs to tap and utilize gainfully, even after retirement of 60 years. Individuals are resigning from profitable work when more grounded than before with an abundance of learning, abilities, gifts, knowledge and vitality. On a basic level, this approach attempts to reinforce intergeneration solidarity among ages, encourage connection and regard among all ages and ages, and aim for a comprehensive society.

Looking at Nyumba ya wazee they have recognized this policy and have taken the initiative of taking care of the majority of old people that have been abandoned in the streets today, they also help to take care the persons whose family members are very busy with employment that they don’t get time to take care of this people.

The other objective of this approach is to create an environment that perceives, enables, and encourages Older Persons to participate in the general public decisions and make the most of their rights, opportunities and live in respect.

The approach depends on key managing standards which are gotten from the Kenya Constitution, Vision 2030, and other sectoral strategies, enactment, worldwide and local instruments. A portion of the key standards include: Human pride, value and social equity, comprehensiveness, uniformity, human rights social insurance and open investment. The Ministry of Labor, Social Security and Services, is commanded by the Government to design, execute projects and address issues of more seasoned people .It is ordered to manager that all approach archives are checked on and lined up with the Constitution of Kenya. The Ministry explored and adjusted the strategy to the Constitution Kenya (2010) in January 2014.

The proclamation of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 denoted a huge breakthrough in the mission for acknowledgment of human rights in the nation. In examination with the freedom constitution, the 2010 adaptation was subjected to a submission vote; consequently harmonizing the general population of Kenya its origin and proprietorship. It repeats the arrangements of worldwide and provincial instruments relevant to the nation; accordingly combining the generally a few standards and gauges that have since a long time ago filled in as a kind of perspective point for human rights.

The period under audit has seen extraordinary endeavors by the political class in fleeing their unavoidably revered commitments, especially those identifying with worldwide law. There was an expansion in activities that disregarded human rights in hostile to fear based oppression exercises, assurance of pay rates and advantages of parliamentarians and previous individuals from the official and absence of responsibility under the Rome Statute.

The report developing old in Kenya: making it a positive affair has been set up by the National Commission in satisfaction of its order of giving a generally speaking evaluation on the character of and conditions for the activity of human rights in Kenya. The proposal of the investigation which the National Commission attempted in order to set up this report is that imbalance and separation swarms the lives of more seasoned people living in Kenya; and that such people are fantastically powerless against financial, social and political caprices which call human rights mediations.

Curing the vulnerabilities of more seasoned people is educated by the obviosity that seniority is a phase went before by various chances of mediations amid the way toward developing old.

In my own opinion, I feel that the government is not doing enough to provide the human rights provision of the older people in the country, although it is properly indicated in the policies of the Ministry of Labor, Social Security and Service and in the constitution, they have been overtaken by institutions such as Nyumba ya wazee, who seem to understand the needs of the society, they understand that there’s a gap that needs to be filled and they have taken that initiative, therefore the government should not sit back and let these people to struggle to get donations from different parts of the world, but they should set some money aside that will help these institutions to have enough funds to take care of their expenses, so that they can be able to accommodate more people who needs their support.

The government requested the ministry of health to revise their health policy so that they the health issues of women can be addressed too, they were to take the initiative of educating them on how to live right, eat well and those that are disabled were supposed to be given homes, security and other services such wheel chairs, however this is yet to be accomplished, but thanks to Nyumba ya wazee, all the men and woman who have disability have been given wheelchairs which have been sponsored by special donors especially from France.

Nyumba ya wazee is a nongovernmental institution that is doing a lot and if the government is planning to set up such homes according to vision 2030, then they should borrow some advice from this home management, because they are competent and have been in operation for many years.


I would recommend to the USIU management to encourage students to contribute some funds so that they can support these institutions that they offer volunteer services, the donations will help in improving the services of these institutions.

I would encourage the management of Nyumba ya wazee to advertise the services they offer on television, this will create a lot of awareness that many people don’t know about. A good example is, personally I never knew there was such a home that takes care of such people, so if there was no CMS3700 course in USIU, I would never have gotten to learn about this organization. In my own opinion if they can create awareness or try and market this institutions, it would help alot in encouraging donations because many people would touched by the stories of these people.


I would conclude by acknowledging the management of Nyumba ya wazee for the good job they are carrying out, for sure they have good hearts, because not everyone could have the heart to take care of old people. They have made the home to be a good place for them where they are comfortable, am therefore grateful for the chance that I got to interact with these people, it was an eye opener.

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