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Our Story

Hekima Place was founded in 2005 by Kate Fletcher, who left her life in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to volunteer with AIDS orphans in Kenya.

Experiencing the profound need and seeing how many girls were slipping through the cracks of available social services, Kate became determined to dedicate her life to caring for these orphaned, vulnerable, and abandoned girls. The Hekima Place family has grown from 10 girls living in rented space near Nairobi, to 86 girls today on a spacious residential campus owned by Hekima Place. Our girls now range in age from infants and toddlers to university students.

Kate has lived many lives and careers: she has been a teacher, lab technician, nursing home administrator, and active volunteer, first as a Sister of the Divine Redeemer and later as the wife of Dr. Leonard “Fletch” Fletcher in Pittsburgh. During their marriage, she and Fletch devoted countless hours to helping an impoverished Appalachian community in West Virginia. Sadly, Kate was widowed at a relatively young age in 2002, and began to feel called again to a life of service.

The Most Vulnerable Children in the World

At that time, Kate recalls, experts were predicting that over 20 million children in Africa would be orphaned due to AIDS. Through research, she discovered a children’s home in Nairobi, Kenya, one of the countries in Africa hit hardest by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Kate, who had spent part of her own childhood in an orphanage, knew firsthand the devastating impact of poverty and illness on children—and the challenges of providing orphaned children with a safe, loving, and family-like home.

In 2003, Kate moved to Nairobi and immersed herself in the challenging new role of full-time volunteer. Over time, she observed that some children were more likely to fall through the cracks of the overburdened social services system. Among them were girls who had been orphaned because of AIDS, but who were themselves HIV-negative. In 2005, with the support of a Board of Directors in the United States, private donors, and several Catholic churches in Pittsburgh, Kate founded Hekima Place.

A Life-Saving Resource

As word spread, Hekima Place quickly grew. In 2009, the Board of Directors purchased ten acres of land in a quiet neighborhood an hour from Nairobi and, with Kate, raised the necessary funds to build a new permanent campus. Hekima Place now consists of six homes for the girls and their caretakers, a dining hall, administrative buildings, a large garden, room for livestock, and a borehole that provides safe, clean water both for the home and the local community.

Learn more about Kate’s story, in her own words, and the history of Hekima Place by watching our feature video from 2008.

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Our story is vibrant, joyful, and continues to grow and grow… We hope you will join us in writing the next exciting chapter! Learn more about ways you can get involved with our work in Kenya.

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