JCO Children's Home
The JCO (James Christopher Opot) Children's Home was founded by Juanita Opot and Sarah Fennel Buchanan. We opened the doors to our first 10 kids on August 2nd, 2010. It is located in Siaya County, Kenya. At any given time we have a maximum of 20 kids living in our home and currently we have 19, with both boys and girls, ages ranging from 4-18 years old. 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 JCO was founded on an appreciation for the difference between mere survival and the heights of human flourishing. Consequently, it operates with a strategic emphasis on providing exceptional holistic care for a few rather than providing a marginal—but not insignificant amount of help to a great many. The goal being to help develop healthy, well-adjusted, and compassionate individuals with enough education and support to pursue their own ambitions. It is through their actions and influence that their community can be transformed for the better. We invest in and love our kids in precisely the same manner we would want to be invested in and loved if we were similarly situated, and in turn, our kids grow up to become agents of positive change in our world.
We strive to operate the JCO efficiently as an institution but also understand that optimal cognitive and emotional development depends largely on the quality and consistency of a child’s familial relationships. So the real goal of the JCO is to feel like a home with a strong sense of family to the children who live there. These children come to us from traumatic situations that are either unsafe or undesirable and therefore tend to require assistance to heal physically, emotionally, and psychologically. By maintaining continuity among a well-trained and attentive staff of caregivers our children are eventually able to develop a sense of safety and stability. However, the children themselves end up being the most potent source of their own improvement. Being small in number and naturally empathetic to one another’s shared (or similar) experiences, they’ve developed a culture of solidarity with a support network that resembles nothing so much as a family. 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 (more or less) the same responsible parental figures during the entirety of their childhood and adolescent experience at the JCO.
The James Christopher Opot (JCO) Children’s Center remains our principal project and once our children there complete their secondary school education they leave the JCO and enter adulthood seeking to find their way in the world. Some of them will then join our JCO Graduate Program, in which we help them to pursue a marketable skill through a vocational program or technical school. Others of our children who demonstrate high academic achievement and would benefit from more advanced intellectual training will enter our Restore Humanity (RH) Scholars Program, in which we pay for them to attend a four year university.