WHY: our story
In the summer of 2012, we went to Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, to volunteer for 6 weeks in Mathare — the second largest slum in Kenya.
Mathare slum is one of the oldest and the worst slums in Africa. Situated three miles east of Nairobi city’s central business district, Mathare slum is home to over 700,000 people occupying an area of two miles long by one mile wide. Because of congestion, survival is a daily battle for the residents against the backdrop of disease, crime, prostitution and lawlessness. Here, water access is insufficient and often contaminated, refuse collection is inadequate and its disposal unsanitary, and the makeshift housing structures which are either made out of mud or metal are always of the lowest quality.
Life in Mathare can be harsh. Disease is rife, food is short, and death can be abrupt. However, it is in such environment that many schools exist with insufficient teachers and over-crowded students aging from 3 to 13. Dressed in tattered clothes hassling for something to eat and huddling together on a narrow bench, these lovely kids are looking for any open space to study and play, and any ray of light to bright their so-called textbooks. Then it gradually dawns upon us that we want to, and have to do something for them to make even a little change.
Therefore, we launched the XXX program to raise money for them : )
The program consists of three parts:
Liter of Light
Most of the classrooms are made out of iron sheets. For fear of being stolen and unable to pay for the electricity, few have windows, rendering the classrooms dimly-lit even in sunny days, not to mention when it’s cloudy outside, which, with no doubt, does great harm to the kids’ studying.
Liter of light, from the Philippines, does help by using an empty plastic bottle, water and glue to light up the rooms without the use of electricity. Our former experience also certificates the feasibility in Mathare.
For more information, check out the following:
We have to begin to acknowledge the fact that hunger and malnutrition are significant deterrents to school progress and to current and future good health. School feeding programs can be an important component of school-based health programs designed to ameliorate these problems. Only by saving more students from starvation can we help to fulfill their study, thus to increase the possibility towards a better life.
All the money raised is going for cooking utensils, food ingredients, and payments for the cook. Your kind saving of ONE dollar can help THREE children to enjoy a meal made of rice and beans—a feast for them absolutely.
Due to the relatively high cost, we’ve chosen two schools as pilots, both of which are small-scaled ones, thus easier to put the program into practice.
1) Focus School
Focus school was built on February 28th, 2008. With about 36 students ranging from baby class to Grade five, there’s only one shelter for them as classroom. During the five years, little attention has been paid from NGOs, philanthropists and volunteers, and only the principal himself and another teacher are struggling to make the school survive.
Most students in Focus don’t have food for lunch, and what the few fortunate ones can have are merely chapatti and water, which is extremely unhealthy for the growing children.
Founded by Mr. Christopher in February 2009, Mumo has Christopher as the only teacher in the first year and maintains its operation with Christopher doing a part-time job at night. Nowadays, there are approximately 50 students and the principal has set up a website introducing Mumo. Some volunteers would come to help intermittently, with whose help the school has begun its feeding program already. However, more money would be needed to buy the ingredients and to pay for the cook for the sustainability of the program.
First-aid Kit Program
Besides unsanitary human waste, polluted water and litter and filth from muddy unlit lanes, chronic non-communicable and communicable diseases like hypertension, diabetes, intentional and unintentional injuries, tuberculosis, rheumatic heart disease, and HIV infection are recognized to exist in Mathare. Here, the infection rate of AIDS can be as high as 80%, so without timely disinfection, there is high risk for the active children to get infected. Therefore, we want to set up this program to provide a healthier condition for the kids.
All the money raised will be used for the first-aid kits bought by the volunteers themselves. The cost of one kit is about 30 dollars including adhesive bandages, regular strength pain medication, gauze, low grade disinfectant, iodine tincture, cotton bars and so on. Each small-scaled school (with about 50 students) would be given one kit.
There’s only one public school with more than 2,000 students in Mathare, and the other 20(approximately) are small-scaled ones. We will try to cover as many schools as we could with the donations, and only about 600 dollars can provide all the kids a better protection from the diseases.
Edith Wharton once said that “there are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it”. If you are ever touched by the kids in Mathare, why not be the light for those children suffering from vicious cycle poverty—whether by being a candle or a mirror?