This is a post from Robin Way, an intern working with one of our Canadian partner organizations – the CAP/AIDS Network – who visited the Kijiji Cha Upendo Children’s Project:
I spent the last week on a field visit to Nairobi, where I was visiting CAP/AIDS’ local partner, Kijiji cha Upendo (KCU), which means “Village of Love” in Swahili.
KCU provides assistance to guardians and families who are caring for orphans and abandoned children in Kibera, Nairobi’s largest slum and one of the biggest slums in Africa.
Through KCU’s income generating support, guardians are able to improve their businesses by receiving small loans and business skills training. School fees are also paid for, thereby allowing for guardians to send all their children, orphans and biological, to school. And since many of the children have been affected and/or infected with HIV/AIDS, KCU also works to provide community education, counselling and support on child protection, HIV prevention, drug and substance abuse, among other topics.
Andrew Obara, KCU’s co-founder, was an excellent host, showing me around Kibera and arranging for me to meet with numerous guardian and children beneficiaries.
It was an amazing experience, to walk among the many, many people living in Kibera, through the muddy and garbage-lined streets, down narrow paths between corrugated metal and mud huts. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting with the women beneficiaries, all whom operate their own small businesses selling vegetables and fruit on the side of the street, or with small shops and stands selling beauty products and toiletries. Everyone was so busy living!
For a more detailed read on life in Kibera, check out The Economist’s article from last year here: http://www.economist.com/news/christmas/21568592-day-economic-life-africas-biggest-shanty-town-boomtown-slum. Reading it might just challenge some of the preconceptions you might have about life in an African slum.