The first institution supported by SFUSA, and the inspiration for its creation, is one of the most unique child rescue centers in the world. Founded in 1994 and initially serving 40 of Nairobi’s street children, Tumshangilieni has successfully established a residence, systematic education and medical care for over 200 of the most needy of children while maintaining a robust program in the community with many still on the streets. The late Kenyan actress Anne Wanjugu was deeply involved in Tumshangilieni’s formation and subsequent lead- ership, and inspired its commitment to the performing arts at the core of its child rehabilitation philosophy and process.
As one of the most stable, effective, sensitive, and well run institutions of its kind in Kenya, Tumshangilieni has developed an international reputation as an inspired leader. The “Tumshangilieni model,” in which every child’s needs and aptitudes are addressed individually and each learns performing arts along with classic schooling, is the subject of study by academics and other child-support institutions throughout East Africa. Tumshangilieni is often cited by government officials and others involved in social work as a leading example of what can be achieved with vision, creativity and dedication, and Tumshangilieni children are often invited to perform at public and community events.
In addition to its activity within East Africa, since 2006 Tumshangilieni has sent choirs of young performers on tour internationally as the SHANGILIA YOUTH CHOIR OF KENYA. Leading American artists, especially writer/director Lee Breuer and musician/composers JD Steele and Butch Heyward, have been instrumental in preparing these young people for the challenges of international performance. A choir first appeared in the US in 2007 and returns to the Flint Hills International Children’s Festival in St. Paul, MN, under the leadership of JD Steele in 2010.
Tumshangilieni’s recent receipt of a donation from German NGO Cap Anamur of 6 acres of land adjacent to the Kangemi slum, provides a remarkable opportunity not only for Tumshangilieni to build facilities appropriate for its current scale of service, but to plan forward to an expansion of services and number of children served that the new facility will make possible.
SFUSA is pleased to join with international Tumshangilieni friends in Germany, Sweden, England, Israel and elsewhere, to channel America’s generosity towards addressing this exciting challenge, as well to provide management, artistic and psychosocial expertise to Tumshangilieni at this critical time.