Maryana Munyendo, 37


Missing Child Kenya

Maryana has an uncommon love for children.

When she was running a company that trained children on safety, it hit her that there was no national database on those who were lost.

In 2016, she founded Missing Child Kenya, a community portal for searching, reunifying and taking care of children who are not in their parents’ or guardians’ care.

“My main goal is to put out the information to the maximum number of people within the shortest time,” says the graduate of communication from Daystar University who has also studied leadership under the Harvard Kennedy School and the Aga Khan Graduate School of Media and Communications.

"Time is of the essence when trying to locate a missing child. A lot can happen in a span of 10 minutes."

Today, her organisation has found and reunited 266 children. It has also committed 65 others to government homes for safe care and custody and is still searching for another 109.

About 60 percent of the missing children in her database are boys aged between one and five years.

“Time is of the essence when trying to locate a missing child. A lot can happen in a span of 10 minutes.”

Her biggest challenge has been gaps in legislation, especially with regard to the definition of what exactly is a missing child and provisions on how they should be handled.

More importantly, there is need to establish just how many children are reported missing.

“My dream is to create a national database for missing children so we can counter trafficking,” she says.

Her plan is to have a call centre and a temporary holding home for such children, equipped with a big playground where they can lose themselves in fun and games as they wait to be reconnected with their families.

When she is not searching for children, she is listening to rhumba or in theatre halls watching a play, magic or illusion performances.

She also loves writing and is working on a children’s book.

She says it takes a village to raise a child and, more and more, that village is becoming digital.

—Lynet Igadwah