My trip to Kibera was a great learning experience for me. For the past year, I have been volunteering in Toronto, Canada, for a group called Village of Love Canada (www.villageoflovecanada.org) whose purpose is to raise funds for a grassroots NGO in Kibera, called Kijiji Cha Upendo (Village of Love, in Swahili).
Kibera is located in Nairobi, Kenya, and is the largest urban slum in all of Africa. Sadly, within Kibera there are roughly 20,000 orphans trying to survive and get by. Many families and widows take in orphans so they aren’t left alone to live in the streets, turning to crime and prostitution.
Kijiji Cha Upendo (KCU) is a registered organization that is there for the families who are kind enough to take in orphans. KCU provides the mothers with micro-loans to start up small businesses, mentoring and business counseling, school fees so their children can attend school, child care monitoring, as well as support meetings so they are able to share problems, concerns, and ideas with each other within a confidential, supportive environment. Many of the women have made great bonds and friendships with each other which helps immensely when facing day to day stresses in the slums.
I was extremely impressed by the founders and volunteers of KCU and their dedication to change the lives of these women and children. I visited several schools in Kibera and interviewed many of the children who are able to attend class because of the program. I met with the women caregivers at their businesses and was shown firsthand how much they have been able to accomplish with the micro-loans. The whole program is incredible. Small, yet very successful. Over the years, many more families have been able to join KCU which means more orphans are able to eat, have a loving family, and attend school.
The clinic that I brought the medical supplies to was located in Kibera and is somewhere that many of the members of KCU go when they are ill. It was a friendly environment and looked quite clean and organized. The administrative staff and doctors were very grateful for the supplies and are happy to accept more in the future, especially for their maternity ward that they are hoping to open soon. I brought the suitcase to them because I wanted to help in as many ways as I can. The better equipped they are for illness the more they can help the people of Kibera.
One thing I noticed during my stay in Kibera was that the dogs and cats in the area are not well cared for, for obvious reasons. As an animal lover and veterinary nurse, in the future I will also bring supplies for the local Kenya SPCA and see if I could assist there with helping the local animals. There is a KSPCA located near Kibera on Langata Road, adjacent to Hill Crest School.