One day before our visit, I call and talk to Mohamed, the CEO of Carolina for Kibera. He is more that willing to meet our team and so he gives us an appointment to meet him and his team.
As we approach the offices, we notice about three four-wheel drive vehicles with diplomatic number plates parked outside the offices which are in the sprawling Kibera slums. I call Mohammed just to let him know that our team has arrived. “Sorry Leah, I am in the field , but just get to the office and talk to the people there.” This takes me by surprise, but I realize that this being a community project each and every person is empowered with information.
The security person ushers us to a meeting place, and then calls one of the officers from the main office to come and attend to us. He introduces himself as Ben Hagai, a program officer for Sexual and reproductive health. As we settle down to talk, Mohamed walks in and requests Ben to let him talk to us. This soft spoken man then takes us step by step on how the organization was started and its mission. He is full of praise of their relationship with GlobalGiving.
“If I can remember, GG gave us money in 2003 which we used to establish the health clinic, (Tabitha Medical Clinic). Since then, they have not given us any monetary support, but the fact they profile our work on their site has given us a lot of mileage for which we are truly grateful," says Mohamed.
"GG has created a lot of awareness through online documentation of our work," he says. However, this gentleman puts more emphasis on GG being able to ensure that projects are accountable to communities they serve. "GG funded projects should form coalitions for purposes of sharing information, experiences, best practices; this is the BIG brother BIG sister kind of relationships."
“Just giving money without follow-ups is dangerous,” says Mohamed. "At Carolina for Kibera, we have received leverage just by being on the GG website."
We seek to talk to some of the beneficiaries of the project and so he takes us to a building about 300 meters from the office site and here we meet some girls who have been and are still beneficiaries of the organization.
We met Maureen Wandia, she is full of praise of the project.
"I joined the project when I was 12 years. I have now just completed high school and gotten myself placement at the office at Brain Trust."
I ask her what that means, and she explains, "I help other girls realise their dreams. I have been mentored and given opportunities by this project, so it is my time now to give back."
She goes ahead to explain, "When I talk to the other girls, I remind them that living in a slum is not the end of life. Rise up and give your life a direction, show others that you can make a difference. That is what i do at Brain Trust."
"Binti pamoja has changed my life," she says.
Linet Nyanchama (21 years) was busy typing on her computer as we talked to Maureen. She looks at us with expections. She has a story to tell. I ask, "So when did you join the project?"
"I was 14 years", she says.
I can tell, from the confidence on her face that she is truly empowered.
"I am a peer educator. I discuss issues of sexaulity and sexual maturation with younger girls. I also facilitated the formation of the peer education group as a way of giving back to my community in Kibera. This project has seen me through school and are paying for my college education. And besides they have offered me a job."
I ask her how much she earns, and without coersion, she discloses her allowances - ksh.900.00. She is the proud earner of a salary of 9000.00 kenya shillings which is close to a dream to majority of the Kibera residents.
"I wish that the world could encourage more girls to realise their dreams," Says Linet.
Jackline Angwanda, is another beneficiary of Carolina for Kibera, she says that she was introduced to the project by a friend and since then she has never regretted. She is a partial orphan with 4 siblings. She is the sole bread winner for her family.
"How do you manage to provide for your family?" I asked.
"My mother taught us how to share and be responsible to others from an early age, and this is a value that I urge other girls to emmulate. We should go beyond our families and help the community," she concludes with a parting shot. "If you empower girls, you eradicate poverty and I see this through the girls at Carolina for Kibera."
"Our organization is of young people, you can see our CEO and even all the other officers," says Jackline.
Friends and colleagues,
Many of you have called or e-mailed asking for information and sending your thoughts and prayers to the Carolina for Kibera (CFK) staff and volunteers who are on the ground in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya. Thank you for your solidarity and support.
To our knowledge CFK staff and volunteers have suffered only one relatively minor injury as a result of the recent ethnic violence. However, large numbers of volunteers of all ages have had their houses burned and looted. There are no Americans volunteering with CFK at the moment on the ground in Kibera. CFK has kept its office and clinic closed since the election. However, today we began a short-term feeding program out of our youth center.
The violence stems from the December 27 presidential election in Kenya. At first, the election seemed to be peaceful and well orchestrated. It appeared as though the main opposition candidate, Raila Odinga, had a significant lead in the early polls. The violence began after President Kibaki was prematurely declared the winner in a small, hasty ceremony at his Presidential estate. It is unclear whether or not Kibaki won the election, but elections monitors (including the Kenyan head of the Kenyan Electoral Commission) have publicly called the election results illegitimate.
Although ethnic divisiveness is no stranger to Kenyan politics, no one anticipated the level of violence that has engulfed Kibera and much of Kenya. The situation on the ground is deteriorating rapidly as each day passes. Stores in Nairobi are looted and people, particularly the poor, are running out of food. Food prices are soaring. Large swaths of Kibera are burned to the ground. Criminal opportunists have joined the fray and there are incidents of wanton violence. Yesterday we received reports that a group of community members repelled a gang of thugs from looting and burning our youth center.
It should be noted, however, that those perpetrating the violence in Kibera number perhaps in the hundreds. Over 700,000 people, half of whom are under the age of 15, reside in the slum. Nevertheless, the level of hatred and divisiveness throughout Kenya today is unprecedented. People are afraid, and those with the means are fleeing from Kibera and other multi-ethnic communities racked by violence. Each day of violence besets the next and further solidifies more ethnic enmity.
The violence must stop now. Efforts to unite Odinga and Kibaki and encourage these leaders to lead and bring a halt to the violence have thus far been futile. None of these leaders have been on the ground in Kibera since the violence began.
In the face of this current tragedy, we must take stock of where we are as an organization. Some commentators suggest that these events signify a hopelessness of development and progress in Kenya. We who have labored on the ground with our brothers and sisters in Kibera see it much differently. We initially started CFK as a small soccer program with a hundred youths from every village and every ethnic group in Kibera. A key goal was to help promote ethnic cooperation and support the education of remarkable young leaders living in some of the most austere conditions imaginable. The violence reminds us that development depends on good governance and security. But our charge is still very clear, and even more important in light of the current bloodletting. CFK staff and volunteers are the forces and voices of positive change that will help create and sustain an equitable and peaceful society.
We will post updates about new developments to our website. If you are interested in learning more, below is a powerful UN article that features CFK and Binti Pamoja member Fatuma Roba. Her two-minute radio interview is particularly powerful. Also included is a link to a front-page article about CFK and Kibera from the Raleigh News and Observer and an insightful op-ed in the Financial Times from long-time CFK supporter and dear friend Michael Holman. Below is a graphic video of the violence in Kibera from CNN.
Please keep our brave leaders and volunteers on the ground in your thoughts and prayers in the days ahead. It is likely to get worse before it gets better. If you are so inclined, we could as always use your financial support.
President and Founder
Kimberly Chapman Page
Chair, Board of Directors
You can make a donation online through GlobalGiving to support CFK or learn more at http://cfk.unc.edu
Helen Snow, head of development for University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Medicine, and Deborah Sams recently visited Carolina for Kibera at Tabitha Medical Clinic in Nairobi. In a post on CFK's blog about their impressions of CFK and Kibera, Helen and Deborah explain,
"What struck us as we met with each of these CFK leaders was how dedicated, strategic, and caring each of them are in pursuit of their program goals. They each spoke with one voice and a strong unity of purpose. They were all careful to build a solid, sustainable plan for their respective program objectives, always being mindful that the communities of Kibera is the primary stakeholders. The CFK organization is a model for many NGO's hoping to have sustained impact. We were touched by their commitment and humbled by their ability to leverage so much action with so few resources. We hope that everyone will investigate further how they can help these inspiring young adults achieve what few others have done."
Please read the entire post here: http://carolinaforkibera.vox.com/library/post/impressions-of-carolina-for-kibera-from-two-visitors.html
This quarter, Carolina for Kibera and Tabitha Clinic are focusing on fundraising for its HIV/AIDS Prevention Program. The HIV/AIDS Prevention Program endeavors to increase HIV/AIDS preventive services by integrating Adolescents Sexual and Reproductive Health (ASRH) information and services for youth within CFK core programs and the community at large. In addition, the program aims to increase the capacity of CFK staff to manage and implement HIV/AIDS and ASRH activities. HIV/AIDS is an area where youth in Kibera requested additional services from CFK. We hope that you will join us in supporting them to develop this program.
Finally, construction on the new, eco-friendly Tabitha Clinic continues! Attached are a few new photos of the progression.
Please keep our friends in Kibera in your thoughts and prayers over the holiday season. Many thanks for your support!
CFK's Tabitha Clinic would like our supporters in the United States to get to know the staff on the ground in Kibera. CFK Advisory Board member, Brett Bullington, sent us this video of a mini-interview he did with the Tabitha Clinic Pharmacist, Frederick Ochenge. Meet Frederick by clicking on the link to the video below!
We just got these photos in from a couple of our volunteers this week! Kyle Bullington, a high school student from Silicon Valley CA and volunteer with our Youth Sports Program, stopped by the construction site with Tabitha Medical Clinic Director, Hillary Okhidi, after soccer practice yesterday.
Although the clinic will help CFK's Tabitha Clinic manage an increased volume of patients, CFK still needs your support! Help us train new HIV/AIDS peer educators, keep our medical lab powered, and maintain our supply of anti-malarials by donating today.
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
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