founder and director

Steven Kyalo

The story of Steven Kyalo is one of an unsung hero. A member of the Akamba Tribe in Kenya, he was raised by his grandmother after his parents separated when he was 5 years old. He lived in his uncle’s home with 12 other children where he often experienced neglect and profound hunger. He remembers well the times, when finding no food in the house, he was forced to dig in the backyard for cassava roots to eat. His struggles as a child, however, would only serve to bolster his extraordinary empathy for children.

As a young man in his early twenties, Steven served a church mission. Shortly thereafter, he took sole responsibility for the care of his three-year-old niece and one-month-old nephew when his sister-in-law suddenly passed away. These little ones, however, would not be the only children he would come to love and care for in the years following.

Humble Beginnings

Hope for the Future


It was twenty years ago that Steven Kyalo began his quest to help homeless children. As he explains, “I was touched by seeing orphaned kids in the slums of Nairobi begging for something to eat.” So I thought, “Let me take these children to my house so I would be able to stay with them and try to feed them.” This was the genesis of Steven’s one man orphanage, “United in the Hope of Africa Centre.” As he took in more and more children, a two bedroom shelter was rented along with a tin shack to use as a school, both located in the Soweto slums of Nairobi. The open air orphanage and school were built of rusted corrugated tin with a dirt and rock floor.

He had 40 children, 20 to a bedroom, and an additional 40 kids attended his school. He paid teachers to help educate the children with money that came from the sale of his popular wood carvings and banana leaf nativities. Still Steven had to take on extra jobs in order to care for his kids. Most times he could only provide one meal a day -- ugali (cooked maize flour and water) and a serving of collard greens. With only two bedrooms, the children slept 3-4 to a bed. The rest slept on the floor. Water was hauled in jerry cans by wheelbarrow, so out of necessity “showers” were rather infrequent. Bathroom facilities consisted a squat hole and nothing else.

Needless to say, tending to children’s hygiene and medical needs was an ongoing challenge with several children requiring serious medical attention. It was only in recent years that a few missionaries of the Kenya Nairobi mission and a handful of other humanitarian minded people became aware of Steven and his humble orphanage and were touched by what they learned. With a desire to help him in his valiant effort, The Shamba Foundation was established.