Empowering Girls in Kibera

Jul 9, 2009

A Postcard from Empowering Girls in Kibera

Kara Wevers is a student who traveled throughout Africa and visited a number of GlobalGiving projects. On March 17th she visited "Empowering Girls in Kibera." When asked what she would tell her friends about this project, she said: "Great: They are making a difference."

Recently I got to sit down with Salim Mohamed at the Carolina for Kibera office in Nairobi. We talked about the good work that is being done by CFK in the Kibera slums, as they focus on issues of health, education, sanitation, empowerment, and leadership among those living in Kibera. I was most struck by his description of one of their programs that works with teenage girls in the area. Many have been physically and sexually abused and bear gaping emotional scars as a result.

He spoke of the support group they have developed for these girls, teaching them and counseling them in key areas, as they grow up together in their dangerous neighborhoods. Those who have graduated from the program continue to meet with one another for encouragement, empowerment and support. Carolina for Kibera remains a stable presence and a respected development organization among the Kibera community.

Dec 19, 2008

CFK Day in Kibera

The end of November meant it was time for the annual “CFK Day” in Kibera. The main objective of this day is to recognize and reward all of the committed teams, groups and individuals who dedicate their time to CFK activities throughout the year.

This year’s celebration was attended by more than 5000 youth representing each CFK program as well as many other organizations and initiatives within in the slum. The youth of the Sports Program held a procession through the slum with banners reading “Tuliza Amani Mtaani,” or “We Want Peace in Kibera.” Over 1000 youth from various programs made the 4km hike as part of the parade!

As part of this year’s celebrations, CFK held a community forum in which the youth participated in the reading of poems and narratives as well as the performance of dances and skits. In addition to the community forum, the young women of Binti Pamoja also held a talent show for members from all the youth programs. Winners were rewarded with school uniforms, books and pens. The winning teams from the Sports Program won uniforms for each player. Finally, CFK also conducted an awards ceremony in which provost leadership awards were awarded to emerging young leaders within the community.

According to our Executive Director, “it was a day of fun that went from 7am to 9pm”!

As always, we welcome your comments and feedback. On behalf of the youth, staff, and volunteers of Carolina for Kibera, thank you all for your support! Without your generosity, our work would not be possible.

Jan 4, 2008

Violence in Kibera and Kenya - Update from CFK

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.

Tumeshukuru (Gratefully),

Rye Barcott 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


Nov 5, 2007

Quarterly report from the Binti Pamoja Center at Carolina for Kibera in Kenya!

Thank you very much for your support of the Binti Pamoja (Daughters United) Center at Carolina for Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya. Please check out the quarterly report submitted by the leaders of the Center on the ground in Kibera. Much was achieved during the 3rd Quarter!


The core Binti Pamoja program and the alumni “mapping safe spaces” project have undertaken various activities in this quarter. Several weekly reproductive health discussions have been conducted. We have an average of 267 young girls aged 11 to 17 years attending the meetings and other events organized by the Center.

Weekly reproductive health discussions

90% of the girls either in the core or the alumni programming were able to attend the meetings this quarter. Teenage pregnancy, sexual abuse, adolescent reproductive health rights and HIV/AIDS were the main topics discussed. Role plays, debates, games and participatory facilitations were used to make the discussions more interesting to the members. Newer members in the program have shown a great change in terms of their self esteem and confidence. They are much freer and open to discuss sexuality issues. This is also evident with most of the girls participating in the safes spaces project.

Newsletter meetings

Lynsey Farrel (A former CFK summer volunteer and Ph.D student) and the newsletter committee worked on the 14th “Tunanego” newsletter edition. The headline of the magazine highlights the sexual abuse incidences that erupted in another Nairobi slum, Mathare, in the month of July. The writer sensitizes the police force community to give protection to girls and women other than being perpetuators of sexual and other abuses. We were able to distribute approximately 750 copies of last edition of "Tunanego" to various targeted audiences in the community. This was done through community forums, drama outreaches, big Binti Pamoja events and individually to girls and youth in the community. Life Planning Skills Training / Financial Literacy Training

The two trainings were held at Savelberg Retreat Center in August from the 27th to the 31st. A total of 31 girls were trained on sexuality and gender issues, preventing teenage pregnancy, facilitation skills, life skills and financial literacy. A trained counselor working with the Kenya Association of Professional Counselors, a child rights’ lawyer and a gender trainer were the main facilitators during the training. Four members of the group who are expected to graduate as peer leaders in December this year were able facilitate various apportioned topics. This enabled evaluation of their knowledge and the skills in order to recommend them for the next level of leadership within the Binti Pamoja Center.

The Financial Literacy Training was facilitated by the alumni trainers. They trained on topics, including budgeting, savings, banking services and earning money.

Binti Pamoja Quarterly Joint Event

On 1st September, we organized a Binti Pamoja Talent show day. This is a quarterly event organized for all the girls in the core and safe spaces groups for the sake of integration of the two programs. Different drama performances, dances, poems and reproductive health talks addressing different issues were highlighted throughout the event. Yasmin Mohamed gave a talk on HIV/AIDS while the other 10 girls representing their respective safe space groups in this activity. Swan Group headed by Maureen Wandia and Alice Nyaboke got the best group award. Shades Classic theatre group from Kibera were present and gave a stunning performance on the role of VCT to the prevention of HIV/AIDS infection among young people. Guests represented were from Kenya Development Agency (KDA), Leonard Cheshire Organization, National Organization of Peer Educators (NOPE) and many others. The event is very significant to the young women as it enables them celebrate life, exchange ideas, appreciate their talents and have fun together. 267 young girls from the alumni and 80 girls from the core program attended the function, exclusive of other youth people from the community. The event took place at Kianda village.

Family event

On 19th August, the Center was able to host a family event for all the Binti Pamoja members. This is a quarterly event that brings all the parents together to discuss project issues and decide on way forward in terms of promoting open communication with their daughters. 141 parents attended the event. This was a very impressive attendance that had a fruitful discussion. We looked at the challenges facing parents as they raise up adolescent girls, analyzed the successes of Binti Pamoja as a community project and the recommendations to make it a better project. The parents recommended that the Center needs to incorporate computer and vocational training skills to the girls for holistic empowerment to the young women.

Photography Project

Group 5 members had their third photography assignment this quarter. The main purpose of taking these photos is to simply use them in various discussions. We will also use the excellent photos to tell their stories through an exhibit to a wider crowd within and outside Kibera community. The major photo exhibition is planned for the coming quarter.

Guest speaker

Financial literacy topics are of great interest to all the girls. The girls are trained in financial skills to mainly compliment their social skills to make informed choices regarding sexuality decisions, thus reduce their risks to STI infection and other vulnerabilities. Elizabeth Mukami, a project manager with the Younger Savers, KREP group was the guest speaker in September. She elaborated more on the importance of banking services especially savings for young girls.

Alumni “Mapping Safe Spaces” Life Skills Training

A total of 267 girls from 10 alumni groups were trained on reproductive health, life skills and peer education issues. This was an in-house training that was mainly facilitated by the alumni members. The main objective of these trainings is also to help analyze the facilitation skills level of all the peer leaders, their capacity in coordinating trainings and the commitment in working with the girls.

Aug 16, 2007

Binti Girls Paint Mural and Take Field Trip to Undugu Girls Center

Binti Members Painting Mural in CFK Meeting Hall
Binti Members Painting Mural in CFK Meeting Hall

The Binti Pamoja Center has been busy this summer; the girls are taking lessons in creative writing, learning Spanish, going on field trips, and even salsa dancing! CFK Summer Fellow Laura Williamson (a senior at the University of North Carolina) has just returned from working with the girls in Kibera and sent us the attached photos.

Binti members took on a new project to beautify the CFK offices by designing, sketching and then painting a mural inside the CFK meeting hall. Through this project, not only have the girls left their mark on CFK, but it was also another exercise in teamwork and cooperation to acheive their creative vision.

Later, Binti members took a field trip to the Undugu Girls Center where our peer educators engaged the Undugu youth in discussions about reproductive health and other important social and development issues. The Binti girls also distributed the latest issue of their newsletter, Tunanego (Let's Talk).

Binti Member, Malhasen, leading discussion on reproductive healt
Binti Member, Malhasen, leading discussion on reproductive healt
Binti Members performing a skit at Undugu Girls Center
Binti Members performing a skit at Undugu Girls Center

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Carolina for Kibera, Inc.

Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States

Project Leader

Leann Bankoski

Executive Director
Chapel Hill, NC United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Empowering Girls in Kibera