Life in Obunga Slum
Life in Obunga slum can be very difficult. Many families here struggle to make ends meet. Poor drainage, inadequate housing, lack of jobs, disease and poverty are problems that the residents face every day.
Obunga has a high unemployment and drug use rates. Common income generating activities include selling vegetables, charcoal, fish leftovers "mgongo wazi" second hand clothing, and small food stands. Women and adolescents brew illicit beverages, which is illegal and punishable by the courts, to provide for their families and to pay school fees for their children.
But Obunga is Beautiful too
Against all these odds, there are many beautiful things you see in Obunga. Like cows gracing in the lush green grass, teachers and children playing in the community schools, little children happy and all smiles despite their empty stomachs, parents buying vegetables from local community farms, or the beautiful roads and sunsets
Despite this beauty, many children are not accessing education
Because of poverty, many children from Obunga slum continue to lag behind in education. Free Primary education offered by the government still comes with prohibitive costs of buying school uniforms, books and paying for remedial classes. This is a big burden for many parents from the Slum.
One Couple is making Obunga beautiful
Josiah Oketch and his wife Jackline started Kasarani Alpha Academy in 2009. Their goal was to provide affordable education to low income families from the slum. They have over 200 students from preschool to 6th grade.
They are walking alone
Despite having a dream of a better community and life for the children, Josiah and Jackline are highly marginalized and have not been able to get supporters to partner with them to ensure that they can provide education for the children.
The dilapidated structures that act as classrooms for the over 200 students they support compromise the very quality education that they seek to provide. As a result, they have become as vulnerable as the children they support and this has seen them enroll a large number of students with the hope that the modest fees they charge will earn them income to support the school.
They were crestfallen when i paid them a visit at their school in Obunga slum.
Seeding Hope & Change
Through the pollination Project East African Hub Program, Josiah and Jackline received a flow fund grant of $500. They used the money to refurbish 2 classrooms and a kitchen for the school.
When the East African Hub team visited his project in August 2016, this is what he said, "My friends, you got here so fast, you did not even call. Work is going on very well. We have finished the floors of the two classrooms with the $500 you gave us. We are now using the left over materials to fix the kitchen floor. The children will have a nice place to take their lunch. Thank you so much for helping me to get somewhere. You have really helped us."
When children reported to school for third semester
They were so excited to find the floors of their classrooms fixed. They do not have to worry about putting their school bags on the floor or jiggers infestation any more.
The Power of $500
After being marginalized for so long, I gave Josiah this flow fund to encourage him and show him that despite the difficulties they are facing in their endeavor to provide education for needy children, there are people out there who believe in his ability to create change in his community. He doesn't have to know how to use a computer, have a facebook page or website. Only the vision is enough.
And Josiah did not only use the grant to fix the floors of the 2 classrooms and set up a sustainable garden as he had planned, but also fixed an entire school kitchen floor and verandah using left over materials.
"I think there would be enough to repair the floors of our two pit latrines/toilets as well," he said with a big smile as we left his school compound.
Through training and mentor-ship , Josiah will continue to expand his network and acquire skills to improve his work and effectively create change in his community.