Mukuru slums – where we work
Mukuru a suburb of Nairobi, Kenya is one of the largest slums in East Africa, with an estimated population of over 500,000.
It is situated on waste lands in the industrial area of the city between the Outer Ring Road and the North Airport Road in Embakasi district.
The slum has a very mixed population. The people of the Wakamba tribe form the biggest bloc, after that the Luo, Luya, and Kikuyu tribes. There are also many refugees from Somalia.
Despite cultural, tribal, and ethnic differences, the challenges facing the people throughout the whole of Mukuru are similar: poverty, HIV/AIDS and other diseases, low opportunities of employment and lack of opportunity of education.
In the slums, whole families live, or at least survive, in tiny one-roomed corrugated iron shacks, measuring approximately 3x3mtrs. Very few homes have electricity and up to twenty families might share a communal water tap and toilet latrine.
To the people of Mukuru, this and home, and they are proud of where they live. Parents work hard to improve conditions for their families and there is a strong sense of community and solidarity.
Homework and private study are virtually impossible in this living environment, however. Many children from the slums do not even manage to complete primary school, let alone aspire to continue into secondary. This denies them any chance of competing on the job market or aspiring to better themselves or their own future families when they get married and have children.
Although the government introduced free primary education in 2003 bringing a huge influx of new students to local schools, little was done to increase school sizes or to improve facilities to meet the increased demand.
Insufficient numbers of teachers too, caused huge overcrowding in classrooms. And despite the best efforts of teachers and school management, the quality of education in many of these schools is dreadfully inadequate. In addition, apart from the primary schools, there is a severe lack of educational facilities such as a public library or adult learning centre, inhibiting the development of a culture of learning and education in Mukuru.
let’s all pull together – for hope
Harambee gives hope to children to complete their education as far as secondary, giving them hope for a brighter future, and an escape from the dreadful poverty and destitution into which they were born.