About Us

What is Urafiki?

Welcome to Urafiki!

We’re delighted you’re taking time out to look at our website, and hope you’ll find what you see here inspiring.

The word ‘Urafiki’ means ‘friendship’ in Kiswahili, and this small but very special charity began with a wish to build links and friendships between our community in the UK and another in Yala, Kenya. Links that would enable the Yala leaders to tackle the extreme poverty that is part of daily life for so many. Over time, these friendships have grown very deep. We trust each other, have shared values, and can see the real, lasting difference that our projects have made.

Some of our content is unsettling, because we want to share with you the realities faced by people living in extreme poverty. But the Urafiki story is, above all, one of hope. It’s about how a small group of friends, working together, and listening to each other, can make a big difference.

We’d love you to explore our website and discover what has already been achieved in Yala, and what could still be done.

You’ll see how we’ve been supporting older people, and hear about our success in finding sponsors for over 250 students, helping those in secondary education and further education to work towards a brighter future for themselves and their families. But you’ll also meet people who are still waiting to be given a chance. We hope that when you hear their stories, you’ll want to help.

The Urafiki team in Yala is changing lives, bringing hope and help where it is most needed. Our orphans and vulnerable children scheme protects and nurtures children who have no-one, or whose home situations have become difficult; and in an area where disability is often met with misunderstanding and prejudice, we work to change perceptions, arranging school places for children with disabilities, and providing specialised medical care and equipment.

The way we work is as important as what we do. Influenced by the thinking of Ernesto Sirolli, we try new projects and learn, discussing everything with the whole team, without an attachment to a single, ‘right’ solution, because there isn’t one. We experiment on a small scale, and if something works, we scale it up. Like our employment and skills training programme. We rarely come up with ‘good ideas’ in the UK and beyond, instead responding to the needs identified by the Urafiki team in Yala.

Since we started in 1999, Urafiki’s approach to fundraising has always been informal and enabling. Anyone can suggest a project to sponsor, or an event to run. In fact, some of our best fundraising events have come about because someone has said, “Why don’t we …?”

If you can help us in any way, by organising an event, making a donation, or by sponsoring someone whose story here has moved you, please contact us. We’d love to hear from you.