I was recently lucky enough to be sent to Nairobi for a week to work with Kijiji Cha Upendo, a community-based organization (and partner to the CAP Network) that is located in Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya. This was a particularly exciting task for me since Kijiji Cha Upendo’s creators have been friends of mine for nearly 10 years. Kijiji Cha Upendo’s aim is to support households caring for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) affected by HIV/AIDS in order to reduce economic vulnerability, improve children’s access to education with the provision of school fees, and to help expand the income generating activities of the caregivers of OVCs through the facilitation of entrepreneurial skills training and micro-loans.
Kijiji Cha Upendo’s commitment to the OVC households they support has a positive impact not only on the children and caregivers it targets, but also the Kibera community at large. Part of the caregivers’ commitment to being beneficiaries is to form a cooperative with other caregivers and attend bi-weekly meetings using Kijiji Cha Upendo’s office space. These women save together and even take turns supplying sugar and soap to the group, ensuring that all households always have some. In this way, not only are they supporting OVC households but they are strengthening community development.
Eunice Nambusi’s story is a great example of the impact that Kijiji Cha Upendo’s support and resources can have on promoting sustainable livelihoods at both the household and community level. Eunice first started her tailoring business in 2001, but she continues to dream of its expansion. Eunice used to specialize in making curtains, but since becoming a Kijiji Cha Upendo beneficiary in 2010, she has diversified her business to include items such as bed covers, high quality mosquito nets, pillows and pillow covers.
Eunice is a caretaker to orphans and receives support from Kijiji Cha Upendo to pay their school fees. The relief that Eunice receives from the burden of school fees has enabled her to use her income to sustain the livelihoods of her family and to make investments in the growth of her business. She also takes out micro-loans from Kijiji Cha Upendo and has a very good history of paying them back in full and on time. She has invested her loans wisely and has purchased equipment that she uses for tailoring; additionally, she is able to rent out this equipment to other tailors in the community to generate more of an income when she’s not using the machines.
Eunice Nambusi shows us how to use her tailoring machine that punches holes in curtains in her business space in Kibera, Nairobi
Representatives of Kijiji Cha Upendo (Leonora Obara and Leah Atieno) and I admire samples of Eunice’s tailoring work
Eunice claims that Kijiii Cha Upendo’s support has helped enable her to become more self-sufficient, and she is eager to return the favour in serving others in the community. Her hope for the future is to be able to expand her workshop so that she can train other young women/ Kijiji Cha Upendo’s beneficiaries in tailoring so that they gain skills that can help them support themselves and their families in the years to come. Eunice’s strong work ethic and pay it forward attitude is demonstrative of the kind of community development that can be seen at play every day within Kibera.