Tag: Nairobi

Mar 8 2010

Kenya mothers group makes shoes

By Janet Tinsley, project director, Africa region

On a sunny day in the informal settlement of Kibera in Nairobi, the Vision Mothers group members file into a small courtyard in front of one of their memberís homes for their monthly meeting. The 30 women and one man, all wearing the same cloth wrapped around their waists, heads or shoulders, find seats on benches in the shady areas of the courtyard and open the meeting.

About two years ago, the Nairobi project team introduced the idea of mothers groups to the mothers of the Kibera subproject and asked them to begin forming groups and register with the local government. The project staff intentionally left these responsibilities in the hands of the mothers, insisting that they choose for themselves which group they would join, raise the funds for registration (around $20), and complete the registration process before asking the project for further support.

At the Nairobi project, the mothers group model operates from the basic belief that mothers are capable, resourceful people.

“We realized that whenever we called a parent meeting, it was the mothers who showed up,” Peter Ndungo, Nairobi project coordinator, said. “In our culture, the mothers are the ones [who are] most concerned with the well-being of children, so it made the most sense to work with them.”

At todayís meeting, the topic for discussion was finding a space to rent for their shoemaking business. Earlier this year, the group started learning to make and sell shoes as a way to add to their group loan fund.

The Vision Mothers came up with the unique idea for the shoemaking business through trial and error. Their original idea was to start a trash removal service in their community, but they soon realized that there were already many other groups doing this.

“We didnít want conflict with the other groups, so we decided to change our business idea,” the group chairperson explains.

Shoemaking, a craft that is typically dominated by men in Kenya, is a nontraditional endeavor for the women. Nonetheless, the Vision Mothers saw shoemaking as an opportunity to make good profits and provide a much needed commodity for their community, but CFCA families are only some of the many customers they hope to serve in Kibera.

Some tools of the shoemaking trade

Some tools of the shoemaking trade

With the sale of their first batch of shoes, the group made a profit of about $130, and in the future, they hope to use the profits to start a resource and training center that would include a meeting hall and computer training for the members and the community.

Today is International Women’s Day! Read (and watch!) more inspiring stories about the women of CFCA:

Strength and power
An opportunity for women(Part 1)
Support in a time of need (Part 2)
Mothers share their talents to improve their community (Part 3)
Creating role models close to home (Part 4)

Mar 19 2009

Letter from a former street child in Kenya

By Angeline, a sponsored child in Kenya

AngelineMy name is Angeline. My mum was a businesswoman working in Uganda. I know nothing much about my dad as he never married my mother. I only hear stories about him.

When I was 5 years old, my mother got sick and died.

After my mother’s death, life was so hard. My sister and I joined my grandmother, who also was single. She worked on a farm to feed us.

My aunt lived in the Mathare, Nairobi, slums. She took me and I lived with her until I was 9. Life was very hard because she was selling onions and tomatoes and the little income she was earning was very little for the whole family. She decided to return me back to my grandmother’s home in upcountry.

After less than a year, my cousin and I planned to go back to Nairobi to look for jobs. But we never got a job and we didn’t find our aunt. We decided to start street life, whereby we were begging for food from hotels and slept on corridors along the buildings in town. Sometimes we used to get money and could rent lodging which was cheap.

I am focusing beyond the limit so that I can be a great Kenyan in the future. I thank CFCA for making me who I am. God bless CFCA.

Editor’s note: Angeline and her cousin eventually went to a rehabilitation house and then lived in two different children’s homes. The Kenyan government finally put Angeline back in school. Since being sponsored through CFCA in 2004, she is able to continue her education. Angeline hopes to attend a university and become a journalist.

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Feb 2 2009

Dentures restore Graceís smile

By Peter Ndungo, Nairobi project coordinator

Grace is all smilesGrace, 67, is all smiles. She is happy because she has acquired a new set of dentures. She acquired them in August 2008, thanks to CFCA.

Grace has never put so much value to her teeth as she is doing right now. She does not have a history of dental ailments. Her problem has been brought about by age, she says. She started losing her teeth in her 50s. She never thought that teeth would stand in her way of good health until May 2008, when she lost her remaining teeth.

With her new set of teeth, she is now able to chew foods such as githeri (boiled maize and beans), arrowroot, meat, ugali (porridge made with maize flour), chapati and mandazi (baked wheat flour products). She can also chew sugarcane and fruits such as mangoes and oranges.

Her doctor suggested a gradual introduction to such food, and she can now comfortably eat every meal she pleases. Her speech has also improved tremendously, and she canít stop herself from smiling.

Read about dental care in Nairobi.

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