Carolina for Kibera, Inc.

Run by Kenyans and advised by American and Kenyan volunteers, CFK's mission is to promote youth leadership and ethnic cooperation in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya through sports, young women's empowerment, and community development. Additionally, CFK works to improve basic healthcare, sanitation, and education in Kibera.
Jul 2, 2014

Teaching Healthy Habits to Young Girls

They filed into the Tabitha Medical Clinic, seemingly identical in their school uniforms. Quiet and shy, they crammed close together on the benches of the reception area and spoke softly to one another. An elegant Kenyan woman appeared with a bright smile for all the girls. “Good morning,” she said, clapping her hands together. “My name is Macrine. I’m a nurse here at the Tabitha Clinic and I love myself. Let’s hear who you are,” she said, pointing to the girls to introduce themselves.

One by one, they stood and told the room their name, grade, and what they loved: themselves, their country, their families, their height, their school, recent Academy Award winner Lupita N’yongo (who is Kenyan), dancing, poems, everyone else in the room, their color, their tribe, soccer, smiling, music, the way they are. When the introductions were over, Macrine clapped her hands together and said, “This is good that we love ourselves and each other, and we have to remember to take care of ourselves and our bodies.”

Organized by CFK’s Daughters United (Binti Pamoja) program, around 40 young girls spent the day at the Tabitha Medical Clinic with Macrine to talk about health issues that affect them and to ask any questions they have about their health while in a safe environment. Topics ranged from ways young girls in Kenya should take care of themselves, the importance of taking preventative measures if engaging in sex, and the importance of being screened for cervical and breast cancer.

When the topic of breast cancer came up, one of the girls raised her hand. “What causes breast cancer?” she asked. Macrine turned the question to the group and asked what they had heard were the causes. Another girl raised her hand, “When you sleep on your stomach for too long, the breast doesn’t get enough blood and the result can be cancer.” A few others shared what they had heard about the disease before Macrine gave them new—and correct—information.

In Kibera, there’s an astounding amount of misinformation about important health issues like cancer, HIV/AIDS, STIs, and other medical conditions. Young girls grow up hearing myths that lead to real-life consequences. Regular, open health discussions like these help dispel incorrect information and stigma surrounding these health issues.

May 21, 2014

Preventing Polio from Spreading to Kibera

CHWs during the polio immunization campaign.
CHWs during the polio immunization campaign.

Health organizations worldwide treat even a single case of polio very seriously.  According to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, “Most people infected with the polio virus have no signs of illness and are never aware they have been infected. For this reason, the WHO considers a single confirmed case of polio paralysis to be evidence of an epidemic – particularly in countries where very few cases occur.”

In 2013, 14 cases of polio were reported from the refugee camp in Dadaab (located in Northeastern Kenya). This was Kenya’s first occurrence of the disease since 2011. In response to the reported cases, the government of Kenya, supported by UNICEF and the WHO, began a polio immunization campaign in areas where the risk of polio is highest, such as in the refugee camps, on the borders, etc. Nairobi was also identified as a risk area, due to its population and transient nature. Social mobilization campaigns were organized within communities to draw awareness to the risk of polio, the importance of immunizations, and places/times where immunizations are available.

Carolina for Kibera’s volunteer Community Health Workers (CHWs) were rallied into the campaign. The government set the target of reaching 95% of children under the age of five (the most vulnerable population) in the three villages where CFK’s health programs operate. CHWs got to work, going door-to-door talking to their neighbors about getting their children immunized against polio.

Recently a report of the polio immunization campaign was released that indicated the targeted number of children under the age of five to be reached (11,123) in the villages where CFK works was met and surpassed by 32%. This means that a total of 14,651 children were immunized against polio and that CHWs managed to reach beyond the target to new families who had moved into the area or those who were passing through the three villages. None of the other villages in Kibera surpassed their targets. The second highest reach was 92%.

Not only does the polio campaign illustrate the effective way a community can rally around a cause and support one another, but it shows the high level of organization and trust that is present in places where CFK’s health program operates.

Apr 8, 2014

In Celebration of Being Women

80 girls from the Binti Pamoja (Daughter’s United) program packed into the Binti Pamoja Centre to celebrate International Women’s Day (March 8). An event organized by CFK and Binti Pamoja participants every year, the staff explained the importance of the annual event saying, “Some may not care to celebrate women, but we can celebrate ourselves, to show that we matter and can motivate one another. We are working with these young girls so they can become so much more than is expected of them, and this event is part of that process.”

In a meeting room decorated with art produced by the girls, the participants of the event took turns showcasing their talents. Starting with dramas about female genital mutilation (FGM) and early marriages, the girls illustrated some of what they have learned so far from being in the Binti Pamoja program. Next were speeches by Emily and Jennifer, two young girls (14 and 13 years old) who eloquently spoke about what the past year as a Binti participant has meant to them. Poems, dancing, and a fashion show followed. The day ended with food and drinks as the girls enjoyed being together in celebration of their being women.

Jennifer performing a poem
Jennifer performing a poem

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