JCO Children's Home
The James Christopher Opot (JCO) Children’s Home is an orphanage which was co-founded by Juanita Opot and Sarah Fennel Buchanan on August 2nd, 2010. It‘s located in Siaya County, Kenya and it is Restore Humanity’s principal program. The operation of the JCO is informed by a deep concern for the difference between mere survival and the heights of human flourishing. All of Restore Humanity’s other programs have emerged from, or were inspired by, our many efforts to improve the JCO. We do not allow adoption, as the JCO is their home and we are their family. Most of our children are orphans and all of them were in very unsafe or unstable situations before moving into our home.
The entirety of our JCO staff (caregivers, tutors, security staff, etc.) are from the same community in which they serve and there’s been very little turnover since we opened in 2010. By maintaining this continuity, our children eventually develop a sense of safety and stability despite the chaos and trauma they’ve experienced. However, as well-trained and attentive as our staff is, the children themselves end up becoming the most potent source of their own improvement. Being small in number and naturally empathetic toward one another’s shared experiences, the JCO children have developed a culture of compassion and solidarity.
We strive to run the JCO efficiently as an institution but its primary purpose is to feel like a welcoming, safe, and loving home to the children who live there. Currently the JCO is home for 21 orphans who will remain in our care until the completion of their high school education. We purposefully maintain an optimal ratio of caregivers-to-kids so as to provide them with exceptional holistic care. This allows our children to develop into healthy, productive, and empathetic leaders. With enough proper education and support our kiddos will pursue their own ambitions, and in so doing, become agents of positive change in their community and in our world (see our RH Scholars Program). Our goal is to maximize their potential, to help them develop into the best versions of themselves. Like all siblings they sometimes fight but do so not as orphans concerned about whether food and space to sleep will somehow become scarce, but rather as members of the same loving family in a shared household led by the same responsible parental figures during the entirety of their childhood and adolescent experience at the JCO.
Upon graduation from high school, some of them will enter our JCO Graduate Program, in which applicable skills are honed in a vocational or technical school. Others, who demonstrate high levels of interest and aptitude will enter our Restore Humanity Scholars Program, which pays for a four-year college degree.