Dan and Patty Schmelzer have worked with street children in Kisumu since 2002. They are the founders and directors of the ministry.
Capstone Ministries is a Christian organization that believes that family is the divine structure God has designed for the rearing of children. Family provides the necessary protective environment in which children can grow and develop. In Kenya the family is under attack from many forces. The HIV pandemic, ongoing poverty, malaria, urbanization, a Western influence and family breakdown has stressed families.
Capstone’s Youth Center invites street children to a weekly program that gives them a place of spiritual and physical security. Capstone is currently operating the youth outreach at the Lutheran Church compound in Kisumu.
Our vision of restoring street boys and their families begins by ministering to them at their point of need. Several days a week, our staff are on the street meeting the boys, some as young as seven years of age.
Once week they are invited to come to our Youth Center (CYC). Here they know they will find a friend they can talk to about their problems, get a meal, bathe and wash their clothes, play games, sing songs and hear the Word of God.
This is the first step of building trust and hope. Many boys on the street do not trust adults. They are at times chased by the police. Shop owners see them as potential thieves. Rebuilding trust takes consistent unconditional love. This is what we try to do at this stage of the restoration process.
Many of the boys will go home directly from this outreach program after counseling and encouragement.
Restoration to the Home & Family
The vision of Capstone Ministries is a street child who is now a former street child and has been reunited with his family.
The definition of “family” in Kenya is broader than in the US. The responsibility for rearing children often stops with immediate family in a western culture. In Kenya, however, aunts, uncles, grandparents and sometimes even community members from the same clan will take responsibility for the children of a deceased parent. This positive cultural responsibility for children is encouraged by Capstone Ministries. We believe that a family is always a superior place for a child than any institution.
Many of us can remember growing up in families where the luxuries of life were absent. Sometimes even the essentials were inconsistent. But where there was love, few children would complain. This aspect of familial love and care is more valuable for a child than anything else a parent can provide. This is why we do not hesitate to reconcile a child in a challenging situation. The glue that binds a family together and which provides stability for a child is love. And no love on earth is better than love in a family.
Capstone staff make follow up visits with the families and extended families of boys who have been reconciled. We do this because we understand that if there was an issue that caused the boy to run away, that issue may resurface again. Some families are visited more often than others depending on the circumstance.
Capstone does not provide financial assistance to families or visit schools of the children. This, we believe, is part of the responsibility of families. Occasionally, in emergency situations, we may provide an exercise book or a text book but this is not part of our ongoing policy. Our role in the family is purely encouragement to parents to be responsible and children to be obedient and to study hard. We have learned from experience that a program that pays primary school fees for and gives food assistance to families only creates laxity and dependency within parents.
Capstone does have a secondary school sponsorship but only for students who are high achieving and who come from families who might not otherwise be able to afford the high school fees for high school. Capstone Ministries is working with over 250 children in various stages of rehabilitation and reconciliation.
Income Generating Projects
Capstone’s ultimate goal is to be a viable program that is self-sustainable through local income generating projects.
These projects will have a local market identified in the community and will reduce donor dependency. The ministry’s goal is to accomplish this in phases. By the end of 2014, Capstone would like our local budget to be 50% supported by these income generating projects.
Currently we are working to develop two areas. One is the moringa tree leaf powder. Moringa is an indigenous tree, the leaves of which have medicinal properties that can boost the immune system. The market for this powder is already established and the demand is high. Marketing of the leaf powder is underway and there is great promise for this product in the local market.
In August of 2011 Capstone initiated a relationship with several HIV+ Women’s Support Groups. The women were provided with moringa seedlings. They were given a training session on how to grow and care for the tree as well as how to harvest the leaves. We now have three groups that are growing the trees for us. Every two weeks, we meet with them, collect the leaves they have harvested and pay them for their previous harvest. We dry, process, package and market the leaves. This initiative has helped us to increase our supply of moringa. It has helped the ladies to have a cash crop and has increased their self-reliance.
Please pray for our Tumaini Women’s Support Group. “Tumaini” means “Hope” in Swahili.
4 S Program
School Sponsorship and Spiritual Support
Moses Okoth, a bright 8th grader, is a testimony to the power of the Gospel for reconciliation of families through Capstone Ministries.
Moses is supported by one of Capstone’s board members through our 4 S Program. We have many other boys needing a monthly sponsor.
For $25 a month, your sponsorship provides a Children’s Bible, a Catechism, a school uniform and ongoing spiritual support from Capstone staff.
Your support by monthly or a single donation to Capstone Ministries is greatly appreciated.