A video by Mathare in Motion
These are the stories from the people of Mathare.
A video by Mathare in Motion
Rhema Slum Transformers Organization is situated in mathare north area three and it was started in the year 2007 with focus to work among the HIV and AIDS-affected people in mathare due to early death and stigma of parents out of the same scourge of HIV and AIDS. Rhema Slum Transformers Organization was founded under the leadership of Rev. Simon Owino Ogolla in collaboration of like-minded people.
On realizing that his HIV status was actually positive, Rev Simon attended several seminars and courses on HIV management and awareness through which he was inspired to come up with a forum on how to fight the spread of the same in his area and other regions within reach. He then started organizing seminars in mathare, huruma, kayole and mukuru Kwa njenga to train both the affected and the infected on HIV prevention methods and management as well. Through this, we managed to train many HBC/ home based care givers, who went around helping terminal patients in their homes. We also provided food, soap, detergents and clothes to victims in areas such as jangwani slums in mathare north and kiamaiko, huruma and john saga.
Rhema Slum Transformers Organization has therefore thought of ways on how to come up with a special forum on how to get loan funds from willing partners, to provide means of starting some small scale business among the victims to approach NGO’S and the government to assist in the area of establishing some micro finance projects.
Rev.Simon Owino says that he has realized that this kind of operation will really help us to eradicate poverty, rather than just receiving food from well wishers. 68% of victims are young parent with children go to school and families to take care of; therefore, they need sustainable income-generating projects. Statistics of the infected people in mathare show that out of every 10 adults 3 are infected and in every one year 20 children become orphans.
Rhema Slum Transformers organization therefore target
Many young people living in mathare north are not involved in governance, but are usually used as tools for decoration by those in leadership
George Omoro, project manager mathare youth development organization, says that bad leadership creates policies that are put in place by the policy makers but do not favour youth empowerment in mathare. These policies hinder youth development as most of them are always working against the expectations of the youth. Kenyan politics is now left for the rich to an extent that the youth who are talented and capable cannot win parliamentary seats. The community’s attitude of relying on MPs is a major challenge to young political aspirants who can’t “untie’’ the constituents (Kasarani)
Some leaders give handouts to youth to fight those who do not support the dominant part. Young people are used by politicians for campaigns, religious leaders for crusades, and after elections, some leaders instructed youths to fight each other on tribal lines. Youth are used in demonstrations, placards, advertisement, billboards, and pimps for the system “youth are a sleeping giant’’
Manipulation of voters by the leaders due to lack of empowerment is a challenge in mathare north since you find out that most people are ignorant of issues, therefore, becoming a major problem when it comes to election because they go by the majority say or decision.
Poor policies are a result of not involving everyone in decision-making, and lack of accountability from the policy makers and political manipulation in making these policies.
When the government invests, the investors come up with their own policies that do not favour the youth at all. There are also some contractors who do not perform to the expectations of the people hence producing shoddy work. This is because of the public not being in apposition of bring the government to task on what they feel it should a priority, especially on important issues like infrastructure development.
George Otieno, aged 25 years, has been living in mathare north for the last sixteen years and he says that most of the young disabled people living within mathare north face all challenges identified by their peers but are further constrained by being stigmatized. They believe that they cannot compete fairly with those without disability, even when they have the qualifications.
Many disabled people have very few jobs in the formal sector, Otieno says. The majority are self-employed in carpentry, tailoring, dressmaking, and knitting and continually point to their abilities through their active participation.
In addition Otieno came up with this poem:
Disability is not inability
Disability is not separation
All of us can make it
Disability is not tribalism
Disability is not illiteracy
All of us can make it
Disability is not violence
Disability is not poor health
All of us can make it
Disability is not corruption
Disability is not unemployment
All of us can make it
Disability is not inability
All of us can make it.
At twenty six years old, David* is now a jobless man and much poorer than he ever was before. David was a barber, operating in Nairobi’s mathare north and in a normal working days he could make ksh500. But during bad times, he made less than ksh250. That was before the Kenya power and lighting company (KPLC) workers moved in swiftly in his neighborhood, accompanied by city police and cut off his power supply and arrested him. “They accused me of tapping power illegally from their sources and claimed I was a mungiki adherent. I spent two harrowing days in the Muthaiga police cells before I was charged at the Kibera Law Courts. The magistrate handed me a ksh20, 000 fine or 6 months imprisonment in default. My family had to organize to a fundraiser to bail me out,” explains David. But like everyone affects with the power disconnections, David pleads his innocence. Of course there is no such thing as illegal connections: “The same KPLC officials connected my power and would pay something like Ksh300 per month. We slum people don’t have rights. We are always harassed by such corporations as KPLC since we can’t stand for our rights’’ he laments.
Just behind the place where David’s barber shop once stood, a little, dilapidated mabati pub leans weakly threatening to collapse anytime as strong wind blows by. On its door is a conspicuous sign reading, ester’s keg parlor. A seemingly underage girl sits inside it. Her name is Judy*. And she too, like David, has a story to tell: my mother owns this pub she was arrested by police, accompanied by KPLC workers, after being accused of illegal power connection. She was fined ksh2000 which we couldn’t raise. She is now serving a six month jail term in lang’ata women’s prison. Judy explains, adding I have to make sure the pub runs since it is our source of livelihood.
* Names have been changed.
Isaac Owino, a man in his early twenties, is usually up by 5:00am, a time when most of his peers are still tossing and turning in bed. The mathare resident is determined to make a living off of the car wash business. Immediately after clearing high school in 1996, he secured a job at industrial area where he maintained hydrolysis machines. But, as fate would have it, necessity is the mother of invention. He cleans cars, carpets, and sofa sets at Nairobi’s’ mathare north market.
But the beginning was never smooth given that he did not have sufficient funds, let alone customers. But due to his determination, he has made the best out of the business and does not regret taking the risk. Asked about his earnings, Joshua says: “my job is unpredictable but when things are good I pocket more than five to ten thousand monthly. This is enough to cater for my needs.” Isaac’s determination attests to the struggle by the youth to eke out a living in the face of employment. But why did Joshua opt for the car wash business? His answer leaves no doubt on the status of unemployment in the country: “I saw that there was no white collar job I could get since I was not educated to college level. In country where even graduate remain unemployed for years, I saw car wash as the only option.”
Most of the youths, however, remain unemployed for long periods due to the misconception that only a white-collar job pays well. Many are the youths who let their talents go to waste as they wait to be employed. It does not help matters that the government does not offer enough support to the youth to enable them engage in gainful employment. A number of youths have skills such as Isaac but have a problem accessing funds to enable them realize their dreams. Their talents therefore remain untapped and therefore remain in poverty and don’t hit the international limelight. Take, for instance, Tegla Lorupe, who came from a humble background and is now an international support figure. She owes her success to humility, patience, hard work and team spirit. If youths could realize their talents like the renowned international athlete their lives would be full of success and glamour.
Isaac thinks that if only youths could gain financial support through the government they could better their lives and excel in their various careers. But more importantly, the youth should always strive to nurture their talent even in the face of hardship. The smile in Joshua’s face is that of a man who knows where he comes from and where he is headed. Behind the smile is a young man whose mind is taking him far, if only to escape the harsh realities of employment. Though many people have despised his work in the past, he has demonstrated self-confidence and continues to earn an honest living while some of his peers have resorted to criminal activities. Isaac is a testimony of how far youths can go with determination.
Waste management has a become major problem in Mathare north and its environs. In the past Nairobi city council had the capacity and machinery to handle waste but due to curruption, proper waste management policies and proper resource management things are falling apart because waste is being dumped every were.
Ateku, project manager for a progressive development organization (CBO), says that in the year 1996 up to the 1999 they were handling a capacity of two to four tonnes of solid waste per day, but due to rapid population growth in the urban areas they are now handling a capacity 10 to 15 tonnes of waste per day. But due to ignorance from Nairobi city council and the Government who failed to assist them to secure funds and suitable places to dump, nowadays waste is being littered every where which in return has made mathare and its environ untidy and filthy both for children and grown ups living around.
George Wambua, children rights activist, says that most CBO’s working within mathare lack machinery in terms of tools, man power, vehicles which will help them transport waste to the government designated area which is about 40 kilometer from mathare north. In return it has led to a wider spread of waste being dumped everywhere and the talk of the day is that there is wider spread of cholera and asthma being transmitted to young children who have got no proper playing grounds, hence they end up playing with garbage leading to early death cases.
Our request to the Goverment, National and International NGO’S is that” waste is money ”if managed well. Most of the youths living within mathare north are idle and jobless, which in return has wider spread of crime and death of young people between the age of 12 to 18 years. Please help equip the local CBO’S around mathare north with machines so that they can improve their working standard and the environment.
Mathare north consists of four areas: 1,2,3,4 with a population of approximately 23,000 thousand.
As from last June there have been water scarcities in Mathare north and its environs due to a road upgrading project along Thika road. Since then the government has constructed extra roads to ease the jam of vehicles travelling on thika road, and along the way destroyed and ‘vandalized’ water pipes which are supplying water to the communities living in and around Mathare north area and its environs. Up to date there has been no communication or assistance made from the relevant ministries or from the Department of water and irrigation and Nairobi water company to assist people living in these areas. Cartels who are using handcarts to distribute water have taken advantage of the situation and are supplying water to the residents at a price of 70 shillings par jerrican (1 us dollar).
A lot of women and children have become victims of rape and other violente actions like muggings, some have also been killed, by people who have taken advantage of the situation to pray upon people walking on paths, and roads (sometimes at night) which lead to water points.
Most schools within Mathare north also have no water, which in return has led to a wider spread of water born diseases like cholera and typoid and other neusences like bad odor which emits from the school toilets.
Our request to the government and the donor community is: “We need boreholes to be drilled, we need more water reservoirs and water kiosks to be constructed so as to ease the water problem within Mathare north and its environs!”
– – Javin
Andrew Atweyo is a resident of a small ghetto called jangwani within mathare north area 4 with a population of more than 5,000 people. Andrew as been living in jangwani (jungle) for more than twenty years and the population living within this area survives on less than one dollar per day. They have got poor infrastructure in terms of water and sanitation services; a jerrican of water goes at a price of 5shilings. Poor waste disposal services and poor drainage systems have led to spread of malaria and TB to most of the young children living within that area. Many people have initiated various ways of surviving one them being crime, prostitution and use of drugs which has led to many deaths in the area and vibrant spread of HIV and AIDS is being experienced.
During the announcement of demolition notice which was issued by the national youth service engineering school, Andrew says that he was surprised because he wondering who will be compensated will it be the landlords only or tenants and where will they go because this is where they have been calling home for the last twenty years. Their request to the government and the city council is that they should reconsider their request on demolition issue or not so they are claiming that they will fight for they their rights and what’s belonged to them for the past twenty years.
Most of the people living within this 13 hectare piece of land are divided into two: rich and poor. Most houses are thatched going at around 800 shilling and rest goes around 7000 to 12000 thousand shilling per month as for now the rich have already left and the poor are still remaining with no were to go. Some the people within this piece of land they have go allotment letter from the city council and even claiming that they have been paying revenue to the city council. It all started in the year 1995 when the land was seen vacant most of the investors found productive in terms of business went head buying the land from the city council not knowing what was going to happen after to them. This is impunity/corruption from the government. –Javin
Amose ngoge is the project manager of zingaro percussion self help group which is situated within mathare north area 4. Area specialization is art and craft, dancing and singing of cultural music, Africa musical instruments. The number of members who benefit directly from the organization is 20 members and the members who benefit indirectly 15 members.
The organization was started in the year 1996 with the intention to improve the living standards of the youth’s who had engaged them self in crime within mathare north as a whole. Since then they were occupied in a one eight piece of land within mathare north area 4 without certificate or allotment from the city council when they try looking for the certificate they are being told that they should wait or the application letter is not seen from the department of the city planners department. Amos is claiming that there is impunity with the top official working with city council and the national youth service engineering school which is situated within mathare north area 4. This is because this process of looking for the allotment letter it has taken them 7 years while the rich are being given allotment letters, why not them.
Their request to the government and national youth service is that they should reconsider their stand on demolition because once the Amos ngoge recreation facility is demolished and they are compensated they have nowhere to go which in return will led to unemployment to their members and insecurity to the local people around. –Javin