“Children are the inspiration of our efforts. They are the reason for all our endeavours. Most of the children within the Bethlehem Community Centre are orphaned, at risk, abandoned or destitute as a result of poverty, HIV/AIDS, abuse and tribal conflicts.” Mary Gakembu
Mary Gakembu is a dynamic Kenyan woman with a heart that is warm and embracing of all; and in particular, for the orphaned and vulnerable child, the single mother and impoverished family who need her help.
Working for over 25 years with children and people in need, her passion for alleviating the suffering of families is evidenced in her generosity to see others reach their full potential and become active contributors to their communities.
Mary is a good friend to many, a vision bearer and encourager. She understands the heartbeat of the lonely, the poor, the vulnerable, the abandoned and sees the potential in every girl and boy, woman and man.
Born in a small rural village, the first born of ten siblings, Mary attended the local school and was educated in her chosen endeavour as a pastor within the church.
In the late 1980’s, when living in Nairobi, Mary held outreach missions in the nearby slum, ministering to women in the community. As the numbers of women grew, a church was established in rented premises. During the week, Mary was disturbed to find many school age children accompanying their mothers to the meetings instead of attending school. Her heart was touched by the plight of destitute children who did not have the opportunity to be educated…. this was to be the beginning of the Bethlehem Community Centre.
The local community offered a mud-walled structure so that 20 children had a place they could have a meal and also attend school. In 1994, the community provided a site in Soweto where the Bethlehem Community Centre stands today.
Mary and her husband James have three adult sons, Robert, Lawrence and John and one daughter, Joanne. The family resides in Nairobi.