Archive for ‘Gender’

October 21, 2012

Mathare Elections

Time for voting

Finally Mathare people have their own constituency; Mathare. This will mean that people will elect a new Member of Parliament along with six ward assembly representatives. The two new wards that have createted are Hospital and Ngei wards. The other wards are Mlango Kubwa, Mabatini, Huruma and Kiamaiko

There is alot of political movements on the ground. People who so far come forward seeking parliamentary seat are the current councillor for Kiamaiko ward Mr. George Wanjohi, former Mathare aspirant during KANU era Mr. David Irungu, a Huruma resident Mr. Francis Mbai and the son of the current MP for Starehe Kariuki popularly known as K1.

In 2013 the people will make their choice. for now it is for the aspirant both for county assembly representatives and members of parliament to convince the electorates why they are suitable. – simon

February 7, 2012

Womb’s for hire in matharevalley

Getting employment in Kenya informal settlements has become a very difficult and that’s why many youths involve themselves in various activities so as to sustain themselves. In mathare there are lots of illicit brew being sold in broad day light and nothing is being done by the government to control it commercial sex working has become a major gold mine in mathare especially in Huruma during the night you will find very nice ladies dressed in seductive cloths so as to attract attention of men passing by I recently interviewed one street girl in which I had to pay her one hundred shillings for a talk with me. I spent 20 minute chatting with her but what truly impressed was a story old ladies who usually come requesting them if some can volunteer at a cost to give birth to their husband.

By the way It didn’t last for twenty minute a very old lady came in driving a very nice black Mercedes Benz which was playing soft vernacular music she later parked her car outside and come in waking majestically like a queen what surprised she come straight to where I was sitting and requested the lady I was talking with to come for a minute since she was a well known street girl around, I was left wondering  on what they were planning something knocked my mind that I was about to be drugged or killed but I prayed God for my security then I took my time to listen keenly drinking my soda slowly but all my attention was set to get what the old lady telling the street girl but the only thing which I was earring was that can you accept to give my husband baby and then I will pay you huge sum of money after birth.

The lady decline the offer but later referred her to another street girl for negotiations after thirty minute she accepted offer to give birth to her at cost of one hundred and fifty thousand:-  Javin


September 6, 2011

Tandale-Finally Mapped

The mapping process which started in June 2011 from a blank spot to now a mapped has finally ended. The final map is a product of close collaboration between the community in Tandale and Ardhi University students. The community leaders mostly sub chairmen from the six wards of Tandale through the stewardship Executive Ward Officer have been very supportive of the whole process. In the last two months a few important lessons for community mapping emerged that I feel is important for community development workers and mobilizers. The most important less was that government structures at the community level is critical when introducing community mapping. The blessing of officer at the ground makes it easier for the map to be distributed to relevant departments in engaged in developing a community. A place which is marginalized like Tandale needs the support of all stakeholder be it government, NGOs, CBOs or religious institution.

Women / young girls engaged in the project exhibited more willingness and interest with the technology used, camer/video and GPS. At the end of the training, the best essay was about the project was from lady university student. She enumerated how we could use the training and equipment to address garbage problem in Tandale.


May 18, 2011

Mathare Youth Vote

Felix, one of the contestants from Huruma Ward

The National Youth Council elections are going across the country and Mathare held its elections for the delegates. In each ward, youth gathered to elect their choice peacefully. At Mabatini ward, 13 youth came out seeking to be elected as youth delegate. In each sub location, 3 youth delegate will be elected.

While in all the polling station there was high presence of women, very few of them were seeking position. For instance, in Mabatini out of the 13 contestants, only 3 women were on the list seeking to be elected. In Huruma, the situation was the same, with only 4 women among 16 contestants. Given that there is low women participation, this might affect articulation of women issues at higher level.

The election has been so peacefully against to what was expected. At Huruma, one of the contestants Mr. Felix, 24 yrs was happy with the arrangement and was optimistic that he will be elected. The selection of administration camps as voting sites has greatly contributed to the elections being held peacefully.

When it came to mobilizing people most people were using mobile phone and texting through SMS service. Printing of poster was common combined with collection of mobile phone numbers. When I visited Huruma polling station, I found Felix calling people to remind them about the day.

The situation on ground revealed that the elections of youth delegates in Mathare being less tribal and this is one of the lessons that the political parties can learn from the youth elections. The election is driven by how well known one is for doing things than money politics.

However there is generally low voter turn-out by the youth. This could be partly attributed to low publicity of the elections by the Ministry of Youth and the local administration. Also the election being held on a working day has locked out youths attending colleges or those working.

From the start of youth election, there was very little interest civil society organizations which conduct monitoring of elections or promote voter registration. Part of Yes We Can Fund by the USAID should have been invested in the youth election. – Simon

March 22, 2011

Mathare: World Water Day

A woman washing clothes near a water point in MathareThe next war in slums will be about access to water. Can you imagine 5000 residents with only one water point? While in the neighbouring  estate one household has more than 5 water points. And not forgetting that we all get water from the same company. As we celebrate the World Water Day, my hearts goes to all residents of Nairobi who are willing to pay for the service but they can’t still access it. In 1975 I remember as small, our house in Mathare Valley was surrounded by six water points and the vendors would pay Nairobi City Council. Currently there are very few points than in 1975.

In slums, women are known to carry their dirty clothes to the nearest water point. Across the valley next to Utalii Hotel, one will see men bathing. One day while travelling to Thika, there was a big traffic jam near Utalii Hotel and people were bathing upstream while down women were washing clothes. Passengers inside wondered why people would bring a whole family to river.”they should be arrested for being nude” one passenger shouted.

This is the reality today in slums. Access to adequate water is an issue which has not been addressed. In Mathare Village Two and Three, one will be met with ‘stalled’ water kiosks which has taken long to implement despite a colourful launch last year. Women walking from one water point to another is the order of the day. Women bears the greatest brunt of water shortage in slum.

Today millions of shillings will be spent in World Water Day, but how many water tanks have been set aside to harvest rain in Kenya given that rains have started?- Simon


February 27, 2011

Celebrating Slum Women and use of ICT

Handset: Cell phones

Today, I would like to join the rest of the world in celebrating International Women’s Day while acknowledging how the introduction of mobile phones has helped hastening development among women in Kenya. I want to acknowledge the role of mobile use among women of Mathare Valley. Most women use the phone for communicating and money transfers. The use of social network is not very popular with older women. The most popular social network is Facebook especially amongst young ladies.

From Mlango Kubwa to Kiamaiko it is estimated that 1 out of 7 women have access to mobile phone. I met a group of women and when I asked them what they will choose between a mobile phone and laptop, many preferred the cell phone. The most preferred handset is Nokia while handsets from China are preferred for their affordability.

Women with access to mobile have greater chance of having more social support base and feeling safe than those without. Take a case of the lady who was nearly raped by the neighbor, she found it convenient to call for assistance and within twenty minutes she was on her way to the hospital and one later she was at the police station.

In fact the use of mobile phone has really helped bridge the digital divide that nearly hampered access to internet for sometime. Computer and access to internet was expensive beyond the reach of many slum dwellers. Given that women control social and economic life of most slums, the mobile phones have helped facilitate communication and other transaction. Mary Muthoni is a member of three merry-go-round scheme. She does not have time to attend the three meeting at once. In one of the saving scheme, she makes her contribution through the Mpesa. She now preferred saving her money in her phone as opposed to the bank since it is less cumbersome. This has helped her save time and money.

The illiteracy among women has not deterred them from the use of mobile phone. The handsets are easy to use as opposed to computers which require training on basic skills plus expensive infrastructure for the initial set up.

Maybe the next step will be to ‘train’ people on the use of Twitter and YouTube even though corrupt, dictatorial and authoritarian African states have became allergic to the social network.

The theme for 2011  is Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women.

The event will be celebrated in Nairobi at Huruma Grounds and is being co-ordinated by Amref-Kenya and White Ribbon. Reality Tested Youth Programme will mobilize women and young ladies from Mathare, Huruma and other parts of the Nairobi County. The event will be used to promote safe motherhood. – Simon

February 19, 2011

Working in Mathare Valley

Young Girls at Seminar in Mathare

While all slums have similar characters and challenges others will always require a deeper understanding of the area, its people and culture. I have met very many development workers who have worked in Kibera, Korogocho, Mukuru area but when they come to Mathare Valley they are forced to change their strategy.

I am proud and I like my community (Mathare Valley) very much. People are very friendly and receptive to all kind of projects. Part of the reason could be that people are always willing to volunteer in empowering their own community.

Right from youth groups to women groups, you will find people willing to learn something new to benefit the community. At Jonsaga Hotel, a week hardly passes without a seminar or workshop being held for the residents of Mathare Valley. This illustrates how committed people are to address their challenges.

The success and community participation in any project initiated in Mathare Valley will always depend on how it is introduced, respecting community structures both formal and non-formal, understanding people’s cultural background. The best case study in Mathare Valley is that of the stalled Mathare 4A Upgrading Project. The intention was good but it was more driven by the well designed as opposed to keeping the community engaged and informed about each and every process.

Ensuring that the community is engaged is critical and focusing all their attention and energies towards their challenge. Sometimes giving people allowances and lunches distract people’s level of participation and the process no longer becomes sustainable.- Sim

February 1, 2011

Attempted Rape by Neighbour (Part 2)

Jane today went to the police station and she was instructed to visit the government doctor at Milimani Police Station so that he can ascertain that there was form of physical injuries. Jane decided to leave her house very early in the morning at around 4.30 am as the doctor has to attend to around 130 people at ago. Therefore Jane was forced to leave the house at 4.30 am so that she can be ready for the doctor’s appointment a by 5 am.  It was a dangerous journey to seek justice since whenever the gate is opened, it the potential rapist who has to come and close. This is what exactly what happened on this day.

By arriving at 5.oo am she managed to be number 45 despite waking up very early in the morning. Jane was unlucky on this day for the doctor sent a message that he won’t be able to make it the following.

Jane encountered another potential rape scenario when she met three thieves at night who nearly attached them but the change brewers intervened and rescued the situation.

How long should gender based violence victims wait for justice when potential rapist are lurking around with the intend to rape?  – Simon

January 31, 2011

Attempted Rape by a Neighbour

Poster on rape

The community needs more information on issues such as gender based violence

I was holding my phone wondering whether to redeem my Safaricom bonga points or ask for credit through the 131 system. As I was pondering what to do, Jane called. Jane (real name withheld) was violently attacked by her neighbour of four years who has on several occasion threatened to rape. Jane has on three occasion reported the matter to the village elders.   Today – 30/1/2011 she called seeking assistance as the neighbour attempted to rape her but she managed to fight back and in the process sustained serious physical injuries. After listening to her case for three minutes, it dawned on me that she was using her credit to call and also she is traumatized and nursing some physical injuries. I disconnected her and redeemed 15 minutes from my Safaricom bonga points. I called her back and assured her to use all my community connections and contacts to help.

Immediately called the MSF France (Blue House) team for medical assistance in the process, I found myself calling more than 10 people in and three organization which included the local community policing chairman. After all these, I called her not to tamper with evidence of attack as it will be part of the evidence she informed me that, the neighbours had decided to rush her to a private clinic as she was serious bleeding. When we finished our conversation, I called a grass root human rights defender (HRD), Beatrice Caroli who responded with speed. She managed to link up with Jane at the private clinic to offered counselling and moral support. Beatrice later took Jane to the nearby police station. At the police station Jane recorded a statement and she was issued with OB number and told to return the following for tomorrow for P3 forms.

I was left wondering what will happen to her when she returns to her house while the rapist is still next door? This is when the law becomes a challenge; the rapist has to be subjected to due process of the law while tonight Jane will sleep waiting for justice. How long will it take? Jane like many other single women in Mathare live under constant and real threat of violence. -Simon

January 28, 2011

Spread the Word

She loves computer

Rachael wants be an ICT enterprenuer

Mathare slum is the second largest slum in the Africa and over half a million population of men, women and children live there. Have you have you ever asked yourself what kind of community driven project exists in Mathare? A communication based project known as Slum TV which was formed by a group of youths assisted by Lucas Pisch and Sam Hopkins from United Kingdom to offer an opportunity for people in Mathare Slums to can express and their views through documenting their day to daily lives activities. The project motto is Slumming it in the World Back Street.

The Slum TV project consist of twenty member both boys and girls. Every Friday they hold their meetings to discuss different issues that affect people living in the slums. After group discussion, the team document and edit the footage.  This is conducted twice a month in the community.  After screening the movies in the community views are collected to asses’ success of each shootage depending on the comments and views received from the community members. Later the footage is compiled into DVDs and distributed for free.


Vinick is a community based journalist and also a footballer

Youth are trained of shooting and editing skills for free by some of the pioneers of the project. They are trained on editing, documenting short movies, producing movies and sound trainings. For further information, visit www.slum –tv .org.  – Vinick Kemuma

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