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Over 4 decades of Assistance through Empowerment

Defending Dignity, Fighting Poverty. That’s what it’s about – and for over 40 years now, CARE has worked tirelessly in Kenya to this aim – to find long-lasting and sustainable solutions to poverty in Kenya. Join us on a journey through the years, from CARE’s little project in 1968 to now.


CARE is born

CARE was founded in USA on 27th November, 1945, to provide aid to those who had been victims of World War II in Europe, left without much livelihood. Originally known as the Cooperative for American Relief to Europe (C.A.R.E), it aimed at sending food aid and basic supplies to war-torn Europe, in the form of “CARE packages”. At the time, such goods were hard to find or rationed, and millions of people were at risk of suffering from hunger.


The program was kicked off by U.S President Harry Truman, who purchased 100 packages for war survivors in Europe. The first 20,000 packages reached the war-battered port of Le Havre, France, on May 11, 1946. C.A.R.E Canada was formally established as a counterpart in 1946. This international outlook led to the final change of CARE’s meaning, to Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere. This remains the ethos till today.


CARE operations in Kenya

CARE commenced its humanitarian assistance to the Kenyan public in 1968, under the auspices of the CARE USA. Coming in very soon after independence, CARE was one of the first such organizations to set up base in a new Kenya. CARE Canada took over in 1989 when it first became operational as a lead member on an international basis.


This was in line with CARE’s response to other countries in the region, which had to deal with massive famines. CARE worked in Africa despite donor fatigue in 1985 and the years that followed, as drought and the century’s worst famine gripped Africa in the harshest way.


From the onset, CARE’s involvement in Kenya focused not only on emergency assistance, but capacity and resilience building. Long term agroforestry projects were initiated, integrating environmentally sound tree and land management practices with farming programs to provide diversification of agriculture. Self-help development has been a watchword in Kenya since independence in 1963. The self-help movement (called Harambee in Swahili) was started and carried on by villagers’ groups throughout the country. The groups would decide what the most urgently needed assistance was, and would come together to rally their financial and human resources to make a difference. CARE supported this movement by providing the missing components to community development. This included building schools for children who were studying under trees for lack of anything better to pursue a better education and a better future.


CARE Kenya was a pioneer in HIV/AIDS programming

CARE started the first AIDS education programs in Kenya and Rwanda as early as 1988, a time when the subject was still either largely unknown or taboo to speak of.  By 1989, a children’s magazine discussing AIDS prevention reached 2.5 million Kenyan students. The implementation of the Pied Cow Education project in 1994 strengthened CARE’s work to educate children nation-wide. The program supplied a bi-monthly magazine to 14,000 primary schools in Kenya. This initiative aimed to improve the school curriculum by publishing issues on the environment, health, business and other important student-centred issues.


Following on this, 2000 to 2010 was CARE’s decade to focus on HIV and AIDS programming to combat the effects of the pandemic globally. Today, we are the principal recipients of funding from the Global Fund Fight against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria for Kenya specifically. This has been a largely successful program, for which we are proud.

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