Since 2007, the New Canaan YMCA has proudly partnered with Facing the Future, a child education center in Kibera, Kenya, Africa’s largest slum. Through our partnership, we provide life-saving funds, support, and meaningful connections to the 300+ children of Facing the Future.
At the beginning of our partnership, FAFU served 120 children in a one-room schoolhouse, however, over the years, we have helped FAFU grow to support more children and families in Kibera. FAFU now serves over 380 children ages 18 months through 14 years with a quality education, meals, and medical support. FAFU is said to be an oasis for the children of Kibera, where kids have a safe place to learn, grow and thrive. FAFU, in most cases, is a child’s only food and water source. FAFU is led by Simeon Ajigo, a man whose sole purpose is to provide Kibera’s youth with a chance to become educated in a safer environment, build self-confidence, and gain skills to eventually serve as a change agent for the Kibera slum.
Throughout the years, we have provided the children with school supplies, food, mosquito netting, plus additional financial and hands-on support. We have also assisted with the purchasing of land, the expansion of the FAFU school, the building of a medical clinic, and the installation of a playground. We also proudly host a sponsorship program where members of the New Canaan YMCA community have the opportunity to support and connect with fourth-grade students at FAFU each year.
Facing the Future is located in Kibera, Kenya, which is the largest slum in Africa and the second largest in the world. It is the size of Central Park, with one million impoverished people residing there, including 100,000 orphaned children. Houses are made out of mud, cardboard, and tin, and are approximately twenty-four square feet for a family of four, and there is no running water or sewage system.
Kibera is not recognized as a formal settlement by the Kenyan Government, therefore, there are no public services available, including schools.
Facing the Future is an oasis for the students and their families, providing meals, education, medical attention, and hope to create a better future.
The New Canaan YMCA’s FAFU Child Sponsorship Program provides individuals and families with the opportunity to make a lifesaving and life-changing difference for a child at FAFU. Each year, the program focuses on students in fourth grade, enabling every child at FAFU the opportunity to experience a sponsorship, and providing returning sponsors with the opportunity to touch a different life each year.
Each new school year, returning and new sponsors are paired with a new 4th grader. Each sponsor becomes someone special to a child in need across the globe by committing to a one-year sponsorship at $360 per child. For less than a dollar a day, each sponsor’s support provides a FAFU student with:
As a sponsor, you will be offered opportunities to engage with your sponsored child through letter writing and video calls during the school year. Although we encourage sponsors to participate in the engagement piece of the sponsorship program, it is entirely voluntary. We understand that schedules may not permit this time commitment and value the positive impact their financial support has on the lives of these vulnerable children.
For more information, contact Diana Riolo, Assistant Director of Development & Community Impact, at 203-920-1653 or by email. To sponsor a child, please complete & submit the form below.
Through donations and service trips, we have helped transform a one-room school into a life-saving child development center with multiple classrooms, a library, and a computer center, providing education, healthcare, and two meals a day to 325 kids who would otherwise have no hope. But, Facing the Future only covers kids through middle school. There are no high schools in Kibera and to attend high school outside of the slum costs $1,000 per year, which for these families, is unattainable.
This is why we created the Panzano FAFU High School Scholarship Fund, which each year awards three new graduating FAFU students with the funding needed to attend high school.
The scholarship was created in recognition of Craig Panzano, the former Executive Director of the New Canaan YMCA, and his tireless efforts to make the New Canaan YMCA and community a better place. In addition to his service to the New Canaan community, Craig helped lead the partnership with and development of Facing the Future. The children and teachers of Facing the Future have become a part of our family over the years and this scholarship honors Craig’s dedication and passion to serving others not only here in the New Canaan community, but across the globe in Kibera.