Help chileren in the Kiberia Slum
Defending the Dignity of Women Worldwide
Community Involvement

A Way Forward

History of the Project

Our involvement in the Kibera slum, reported to be the largest slum in Africa, evolved from an article published recently by Amnesty International. The research found that rape among women and young girls had reached an epidemic. A violent atmosphere driven by drugs and domestic abuse meant females were suffering and forced to live out their lives at great risk. The community that had once been a haven for women and their children during 1970’s-1980’s is now a dangerous hideout for criminals, gangsters and unchecked extortion.

It was decided to pursue the format and activities of a previous project that successfully combated female genital mutilation among the Abugusii tribe since many of the same components, problems, and potential solutions existed in Kibera. An invitation to participate in a Writer's Contest answering the question "Why Kibera Is So Dangerous For Women And Girls And What Can Be Done To Bring About Change?" was circulated among organizations working in the community via the Internet. Several agencies expressed an interest in the program and this committee was formed: A Woman's Voice International, USA Sponsor, The Salvation Army Kenya Territory, Trans Africa Language Institute, and the Makina Community Development Project directed by Andrew Otieno who agreed to act as Chairman. The program was announced in June 2011 and by the cutoff date of July 31; over 200 submissions had been received from people listing in various categories.

Protocol:

Winners were selected by the USA committee. Efforts to improve police protection, sanitation, clean water and housing are problematic to poverty. So instead of citing the obvious, writers were given less credit for describing current conditions but moreover found favor for statements that reflected the idea of self-empowerment. Our assumption rested on the following: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has, said Margaret Mead. All it takes for evil to win is for enough good people to do nothing, from Edmund Burke.

Outcomes:

An Award Ceremony recognizing the winners was held in September 2011. The event was well attended by over 130 residents, government representatives, and the clergy. Here is a list of issues that were identified from those who participated whose solutions can readily be addressed by the community:

1. Men should act like men and protect women.
2. People needed to become good neighbors and care for one another. Isolation like in so many communities results in a deadly sense of indifference.
3. Much can be accomplished by religious leaders who teach and encourage a genuine sense of morals and respect for females regardless of age or tribe.
4. Parents lacked involvement leaving children to raise themselves.
5. Encourage young people to say "no" to peer pressure, especially drugs and sex.
6. Recognize the important role women play in forming society.
7. Role models both men and women with the will to effect change.
8. Form community action groups.
9. Leaders who will commit to volunteer their time and talent.
10. Accept each other to avoid conflict.
11.Vote out representatives who have done a poor job.
12. Education on drug addiction and the inevitable consequences.
13. Unite, educate and empower women through micro credit programs.
14. Encourage proper dress among young teenage girls.
15. Follow the 10 Commandments.
16. Pray to God for guidance.

Additionally, recognizing that government involvement is valuable as well as necessary, a petition requesting a Special Liaison be appointed to help facilitate possible solutions was circulated and presented to the Prime Minister.

Summary:

In addition to monetary awards, several participants were given personal alarms to be used in case of physical attack. A microcredit program to provide sanitary napkins much needed by female students is underway. Information on drug addiction was presented to several schools and churches for follow-up to students and congregations.

Accurately measuring the outcomes of this type of endeavor can prove to be difficult, but we are hopeful that the good seeds sown in the hearts of men and women will produce a much needed change in the future. Our goal was a humble one, to leave the people better off than when we met. It is our belief that was accomplished.