Africa is an amazingly beautiful continent, but it has sadly become synonymous with poverty. Africa is by far the poorest continent on the planet with many of the world's poorest countries coming from there. Poverty has huge negative effects on society. Poor education, crime, gangs, sexual assault, teenage pregnancies, HIV, alcohol and drug addiction are common where there is poverty. Children are the most affected by the issues associated with poverty. Children have no choice as to where they live or how to change the circumstances in their lives.
Metro Kids Africa is a non-profit organization that seeks to serve children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, “Helping Children Create a Better Future”. Thousands of children are served weekly through, after-school and school programmes, child sponsorship, home visits, compassionate care, camps and teenage mentorship programmes. Metro Kids Africa is founded on Christian principles and believes that a relationship with Jesus Christ will bring long-lasting life change.
Metro Kids Africa is a partner organisation of Metro World Child (formerly Metro Ministries) based in New York, USA. Metro World Child was founded in 1980 and played a huge role in inspiring the Senior's. After visiting Metro World Child in New York and operating kids clubs in the UK, James and Janet believed the same programmes would help children in Cape Town and other areas of Africa.
We currently work in two countries. We started in South Africa in 2005 and Uganda in 2014. HIV, AIDS, and child-headed homes are common in both, but each country has it's own problems.
South Africa sadly has violent crime prevalent in many townships. Inequality of wealth and high levels of unemployment are major issues. Then there's poverty, alcoholism, drug addiction and the absence of a father in many children's lives. What’s more, South Africa has one of the worst rape statistics against children in the world. This is what the majority of children growing up in South Africa face.
Uganda has one of the youngest populations in the world with 48% of the population under the age of 14 years. It is a poor country and has been rated one of the most corrupt. Most people live in rural areas where they spend hours each day walking to collect water.
James, Chief Executive Officer
James has a true father’s heart for children, teenagers and young adults. He inspires all who meet him with his gentle care toward those around him. James has a passion to reach the young people of Cape Town and beyond and travels the world sharing about the work of Metro Kids Africa and inspiring others to make a difference in their communities.
James and Janet Senior
Janet, Chief Operations Manager
Janet looks after the day-to-day running of operations. Her desire is to see Metro Kids Africa operate with good organisational structures in place while not forgetting the love and care that is essential to the work of Metro Kids Africa. She focus’ mainly on the child sponsorship programme, funding, special projects and overseeing the staff and volunteers.
In 2004, James and Janet Senior and their four young children left the United Kingdom for South Africa after deciding to make huge life changes and work amongst the disadvantaged children in South Africa. Having met Bill Wilson many years ago and been inspired by the work Metro World Child does, the Senior's began similar programmes in Cape Town, founding Metro Kids Africa in 2004. In 2008 Metro World Child invited Metro Kids Africa to become a partner organisation.
Metro Kids Africa seeks to form relationships with local churches and people, provide training and support and help the local community reach their own children. In this way, children have good role models within their own areas and have someone they can access easily, which helps develop healthy relationships that will produce lasting change.
Metro Kids Africa grew in Cape Town and as other communities were impacted the staff team grew to 7 staff members.
In 2014 James and Janet were invited to go and teach how to reach children using the same curriculum and programmes in Uganda. This has flourished and grown incredibly fast and is impacting the youth living in various parts of Uganda. Read the whole story.
Metro Kids Africa’s beginnings
James and Janet Senior are the founding members of Metro Kids Africa. Their story has the ability to encourage anyone to step out and trust God in their lives and believe in the possibility of great things.
James was brought up in Bradford in the county of Yorkshire, England. When he was 11-years-old he heard a story about the need for money to purchase a mini-bus to help a Bible school in Africa. He was stirred to donate some savings he had and from then on felt a part of himself being drawn to Africa.
Janet was brought up in the town of South Shields in the north of England and also had an experience as a young person feeling drawn to Africa. Whilst on a Christian youth camp she heard a speaker share about God wanting to use young people all over the world. Janet felt God speaking to her and saying that one day she would serve Him somewhere in Africa.
The couple met and like a good love story, fell in love and were married in their early 20’s. They had talked about their shared love of Africa and wanted to act on this desire. Putting their love into action, they wrote to some organizations that were working in various parts of Africa, asking if they could join them. All the organizations said a definite no and so the dream was put on hold and not talked about for many years.
Life continued in a good way with God blessing them with 4 children, good careers and a happy involvement in their local church.
As both approached 40, they both found themselves looking back on their lives and they underwent some soul searching on where they were at. The conversations began between the couple on what they wished they were doing with their lives and both felt a calling once again towards their dream of doing something in Africa. Around this time came a pivotal moment. It was World Aids Day 2003. There was a news item on the BBC which both saw. A lady was being interviewed as she lay in her bed in a small tin shack in South Africa. This precious lady knew she was dying and kept saying over and over again, “Who will look after my children, who will look after my children?” Both James and Janet heard this and felt a calling from God to go and care for some children who needed to know God’s love.
The next year, the couple with their 4 young children, left for Cape Town, South Africa. They didn’t know what they were going to do apart from feeling the time was right to go and see what their hearts had been calling them to do for many years now. It wasn’t an easy decision. It seemed crazy as they had no organized financial support in doing this and didn’t have a clear plan of what to do once they arrived in Cape Town, but they took a step of obedience and put their faith in God.
After 6 months of getting to know people and hearing their desires for their communities, the Seniors felt they had a plan. They had been privileged to know Pastor Bill Wilson, an American who had started Metro Ministries. Metro Ministries worked with thousands of underprivileged youth in the city of New York and believed “it was better to build children than repair men and women”. The programmes Metro Ministries ran were held in the neighborhoods where the most vulnerable children in the gang ridden areas of New York lived.
The programmes brought hope, love and purpose to the children and James and Janet felt these programmes would work well in Cape Town.
In April 2005, Metro Kids Africa began with its first Sidewalk outdoor children’s programme in the township of Gugulethu. This first programme proved popular with the children and their families as children heard the Christian message, but in a fun and interactive way. Each week a different topic was taught and kids left the programme knowing the bottom line from that week.
Metro Kids Africa grew in Cape Town and as other communities were impacted the staff team grew to 7 staff members.
In 2014 James and Janet were invited to go and teach how to reach children using the same curriculum and programmes in Uganda. This has flourished and grown incredibly fast and is impacting the youth living in various parts of Uganda.
Staff in South Africa
Staff in Uganda
Being part of the MKA family is a true blessing for me. I don’t see myself anywhere other than being here and making a difference in my community and further afield.
God has been so faithful to me, by making sure that I stay and continue to serve through difficult times. When lots of people were losing jobs, God continued to show His faithfulness to us.
I love Metro with all that I am and I respect and love every child that comes to our programmes. May God continue blessing us.
I think in the past few years I have become more confident when it comes to IT and I help others in the office with the new skills I have learnt.
I still enjoy being in charge of the Leadership Development programme and I have grown to appreciate the time I have spent with the young leaders during the pandemic.
I have also found new appreciation for home visits. Before covid I didn’t do as many home visits because of the sites I was involved in.
I still have some responsibilities with the finances with Tham-Tham and Jeanne.
I like the fact that my job is secure at MKA, that we work well together as a team and we are always there for one another.
I love MKA because it is one of the best organizations. It teaches so many values, the best way of living life and how to handle challenges or help others. It has taught me how to love, care and learn the ability to teach others. MKA has helped me in so many ways, even becoming a better man. I am happy to say I’m one of the men in South Africa who is actually doing something great in helping children and families and more especially teenagers. Most important is sharing the love of God.
I have been with MKA ever since it started in KTC, Cape Town, in 2007. I started sitting down listening to the lessons as a child and I have grown up at MKA. It has been a great thing for me to be part of. I became the KTC site leader when I was 18 and it has been good for me all these years and great to be part of the organization. MKA has made a big impact in my life and has helped me to grow in my spirituality.
I have been with MKA since the very first Sidewalk back in 2005. It was the highlight of the week for me.
Now I am part of the MKA staff and I love the work I do with the people I work with every day. I get to learn new skills and I even travelled to Uganda with MKA, that was the best experience ever😃. I always feel like I belong at MKA because of the great bosses I have and the relationship we have kept over the years.
I love my job because everyone shares the same vision and are dedicated to the mission and goal, being treat well and giving encouragement. What I love most about my job is doing the home visits and seeing the kids jumping and shouting “Sidewalk, Sidewalk” when they see the Landy. Their smiles melt my heart and their excitement shows the great impact we have in their lives. I love how we lead children into a relationship with Jesus and how we are always engaging with different families.
Sidewalk has always been a great programme full of joy and growth and I enjoyed being part of MKA at a very young age. I became a leader as a teenager and I taught the children of my community the word of God. I love seeing the lives of young children change. I became an intern at MKA after leaving school and enjoyed this time. I then became a staff member and I am really happy being part of the MKA family.
MKA has been part of my life for the past 15 years. I started out by attending Sidewalk at the age of 10. When I was 14 years old I became a Junior Leader and I got the chance to learn the lessons before delivering them to younger kids. Those lessons really had a positive impact in my life as I was learning how much God loves me and how He wants to have a relationship with me. Those lessons really shaped me as a Christian and the person that I am today. I am very happy to be part of the MKA family.
David is the Ugandan Manager and was the first person to come on staff in Uganda in 2014. He has a huge vision to impact children with the love of Christ and help them grow into young people who will impact their nation for good. He is a Registered General Nurse and this training has helped him care for the staff and children he is responsible for. David is gifted in communication with all people and this plays a huge part in him managing Metro Kids Africa Uganda well.
Joy is the Assistant Manager of the Ugandan team. He is always full of fun and makes the children smile. Joy is always busy and looks after 20+ schools each week training the teachers and assisting them to teach the Metro Kids Africa curriculum. Joy always asks question whenever James visits for staff training and has an enquiring mind which stirs him to search for the truth and helps him be a good teacher.
Judith is Principal of a school that began partnering with Metro Kids Africa in 2014. She is a gifted teacher and plays a huge role in training new schools when they begin their partnership with Metro Kids Africa. Judith has a perfectionist nature and loves to organize the staff and programmes. The Metro Kids Africa office is based in a room at Grace Learning Centre, the school Judith is Principal of.
Florence worked at the first school we partnered with and is married to Pastor David. She loves children but was very shy with adults. As she began to teach the Metro Kids Africa curriculum it began to impact her life to such an extent that she developed a new belief in herself and became more confident. Florence now leads with strength and this has had a positive effect with the schools she is responsible for. These schools have become some of the most vibrant schools Metro Kids Africa works with.
David was a pastor of a church but he saw such a positive change in his wife Florence that he wanted to be involved with Metro Kids Africa. He is now on staff and has come to believe in the importance of reaching people whilst they are young. He has a particular heart for mentoring the teachers at the schools Metro Kids Africa works in. He loves travelling around Uganda representing Metro Kids Africa and finding new partners to work with.
Viola is David’s wife and is a great support to him and the responsibility he carries as the Metro Kids Africa Ugandan Manager. Her gift is in organization and she will be involved in the launching of the child sponsorship that will happen in Uganda in the near future.
Cathy oversees Metro Kids Africa programmes in schools in Central Uganda. She shows immense commitment, travelling 5.5 hours each way to 1 of her schools weekly. She is the youngest member of the team and has a great empathy with the children.
Stephen works near the Democratic Republic of Congo border overseeing schools in this area. He loves to sing and dance and this passion adheres him to the children at the programmes he works with.
William works near the Rwanda border with schools in this rural area. Children walk miles to school and are rewarded with smiles and a fun loving programme led by William which they love to attend.
James has come on staff recently and is loving his new role. He lives near Jinja and is responsible for overseeing schools in this area. Jinja is a 7 hour journey from the Metro Kids Africa Uganda office and having James on board has helped the Ugandan staff with their work load.
Our Vision and Mission
Metro Kids Africa's vision is to see communities transformed by raising up leaders, teachers and pastors from the streets and from the poverty stricken neighbourhoods of Cape Town and beyond; empowering and developing children, one by one, that they may bring hope to the next generation, bearing fruits that will change the nation.
Metro Kids Africa is committed to serving children and young people who are born into difficult circumstances.
Families do not want their children's lives to be damaged by the issues around them, but instead want their children to grow up in safe communities with young people becoming responsible adults. Metro Kids Africa's goal is "To Help Children Create a Better Future". Everything Metro Kids Africa does is with this in mind. All programmes and activities that Metro Kids Africa staff and volunteers engage in are aimed at enabling children and young people to have the tools to make good choices, which will help them grow into responsible adults who will be role models in their communities.
How Do We Do This
- We teach Christian-based life skills and values each week at programmes thousands of children attend. We conduct after-school programmes, school sessions, camps, small groups and personal mentorship programmes.
- We establish personal relationships and mentorships through the One By One child sponsorship programme and weekly home visits.
- We donate compassionate care food parcels, clothing and school supplies to those families who are in great need.
- We work together with other non-profit organisations and churches for the benefit of the children and young people.