Our Beginning //
Jacqueline Villeneuve volunteered in Kenya for the first time in July 2009 at fifteen-years-old. From the moment she stepped foot into Nairobi, Jacqueline knew Kenya would one day become her home. With a passion for development and children’s rights, Jacqueline returned to Kenya for a second time at sixteen-years-old, this time volunteering in a children’s home. She was immediately touched by the perseverance and dedication to succeed the 34 children residing in the home possessed. Upon leaving Jacqueline decided she would devote her life to assisting orphaned and abandoned children and has been doing so ever since.
In her high school years Jacqueline began laying the foundations to open a children’s home of her own. Though she was only sixteen she believed she could make a difference in the lives of orphaned children in Kenya. After two years of fundraising, planning, and advocating Jacqueline moved to Kenya ready to open Zawadi la Tumaini Children’s Home.
During her first year of research and observation living in Nairobi, Kenya Jacqueline discovered the corruption that exists within the orphan care community. She witnessed firsthand children trapped in corrupt homes. Some examples of this corruption included child abuse, pocketing funds, sexual abuse, neglect, poor nutrition, poor hygiene, mistreatment of staff, and the list continues. Many homes were lacking love, and a sense of family. The children were simply surviving not thriving. Stuffed into facilities where management believed the success of the home was determined by the number of children which resided there – often leading to poor education, poor medical care, and virtually no compassion or love for the children. Thus began Zawadi la Tumaini’s family-based care approach.
Jacqueline is a part time student at Pennsylvania State University, via World Campus, studying International Politics. She is a single mother to a beautiful two year old daughter and Founder of Olive & Annie - a social enterprise which produces fair trade apparel and accessories for women and children and directly supports Zawadi la Tumaini with each purchase. At twenty-three-years-old Jacqueline is a Me to We Award Winner, Diamond Jubilee Award Recipient, and a YWCA Young Woman of Distinction Award Winner. Since 2009 Jacqueline has raised over $300,000 for development and orphan care programs in Kenya.
Jacqueline and her daughter currently reside in Sudbury, ON but spend a large portion of the year in Nairobi where she continues her work with Zawadi la Tumaini and advocates for the rights of orphaned children.