The Saint Boys Project
IAMercy’s first program was The Saint Boys Project. This project was launched specifically with a focus on helping boys who used to be on the street. There are an estimated 70,000 street children in Nairobi. By day street boys dig through trash or beg for food. They wander around the slum in rags, and if they have shoes there is a great likelihood they will be worn through with holes. They often sniff glue or paint thinner to get high. This numbs the hunger pangs, keeps out the cold, and provides a mental escape from the sorrow of their lives. Unfortunately, it is also highly addictive and over time debilitates the minds and the nervous systems of the boys who cannot get free from the habit.
Not all street boys are homeless, but many are. By night some street boys sleep under cars or in kiosks. They may be found huddling together at a place know as a “base" (there are many of these makeshift camps throughout Nairobi). They cling together for safety, especially after sunset. Many have been raped, beaten, and bullied while on the street. So, staying together at night provides at least a level of protection from predators.
In 2014 Seth Johnson (IAMercy’s founder and a missionary for the ministry) moved to Nairobi and took in seven boys/young men, most of whom used to be on the streets. These former street boys had embraced a new life and instead of identifying themselves with poverty they identified themselves with Christ. Hence they had taken a new name: “The Saint Boys.”
Within two weeks of Seth’s arrival in Nairobi the Saint Boys moved in with him. Within a few months they started calling him Dad. They did life as a family, eating at the same table and sleeping under the same roof.
In 2018 the last of the original Saint Boys moved out of Seth’s home to start his life. All of the original Saint Boys are now in their twenties. They are no longer under the ongoing care of IAMercy, however many of them still keep in touch with Seth and the ministry. Most are doing various jobs in the city (e.g. in transportation and sales).
As older boys (young men) moved out younger boys got involved with the ministry. IAMercy launched The Daily Bread Project feeding program in 2015. Through this feeding program IAMercy gained exposure to other boys who were still on the street. Over time new boys became a part of Seth’s home. The Saint Boys Project is still comprised of Seth and the boys he has embraced as sons and who have embraced him as a father. The faces have changed through the years, but the project has remained the same.
All of the basics for life are provided. Food, shelter, clothing, medical care, and school fees are now readily available for the boys - so there is no need for them to worry about these things any longer. They can focus on doing well in school, playing games with friends, and dreaming about what they want to do with their future careers. The children in The Saint Boys Project are learning to love and be loved in a familial environment where Christ is the center of the home.