Problem Statement : Kenya is one of the fastest growing economies in East Africa. However the gap between the richest and extreme poor widens
Kenya is one of the fastest growing economies in Africa, with the economic growth rate at 5.7% between 2015 and 2019 according to world bank. With such a high economic growth rate, it attracts a lot of investors in all the sectors of business be it, agriculture, healthcare, finance, technology and so many more. Opportunities for growing Kenya are so many and varied.
However, even with such promise in Kenya, there is still the part of society that lies forgotten and desolate. In any neighborhood in Kenya you will find a divide between the elite and the poverty stricken estates. According to oxfarm.org , less than 0.1% of the population (8,300 people) own more wealth than the bottom 99.9%. Walking into different parts of downtown of Nairobi city early in the morning, you will realize that the streets are filled with homeless men, women and children, sleeping on cardboard boxes and covering themselves with potato sacks. Poverty in Kenya’s cities still astounds most given the fast growth of our economy.
Negative factors such as HIV/AIDS, environmental hygiene, lack of education and lack of consistent and substantial income are contributing factors to the increasing population of underprivileged people. This section of the society requires all the positive aid it can be given if they are to rise from the position they are at right now.
Smile Community Centre was registered in the year 2009 to fill one of the opportunity niches provided by this situation. Motivated by her desire to serve God through community work after her recovery from a near death experience due to spinal cord injury, Margret Nekesa Khaemba, a mother of three, saw the need in the society for a safe haven where poor people in the informal settlements could gain support, training and counseling to help them make a better life for themselves. She first worked in the community by counseling women ,teaching them home based care, helping needy children with food and linking them to educational support and hospital facilities in the informal settlements of Kayole and Soweto slums. She then registered Smile self help group, which involved training the women and youth to make bead-works, detergents and food items to sell while using some of the proceeds to help themselves and buy food for street children.
Her interaction with street children, orphaned and vulnerable children made her realize that there was a need to formalize the group to a community based organization to support orphaned and vulnerable children; hence the group was registered with the ministry of labour , social security and services of the republic of Kenya as a Community Based Organization (CBO) in the year 2016.
Serving orphaned and vulnerable children in the informal settlements of Kayole and Soweto…how the children’s home was started.
The children mission first started by rescuing vulnerable children from domestic violence, family conflict among other factors. Most of the children were being referred to Margaret by the local police officers. As it turned out , some of the children were vulnerable and orphaned with no option of returning back to their previous life. They were being referred to other children homes since there was no permanent home for them. However the children kept on being referred. When there was no more space for them in other homes , there was a need to open a children home.
Few of the children with no better place to go started living in Margret’s house where her family shared everything they had with the children. The number of children increased in the house and the centre had to start from somewhere despite of lack of resources. A structure made of iron sheet was rented next to PCEA Kayole church near sabasaba , in the east lands of Nairobi Kenya. Sometimes it rained inside during heavy rainfall so the children had to go back and sleep at Margret’s house until the rain season stopped. There was no water or electricity in the iron sheet structure. They studied at night using kerosene lamps.
The need for a better place and how the home moved from Sabasaba to Soweto
There was a tremendous need to move the children out of the iron sheet structure to a better place. With the support of well-wishers, the centre moved to a leased plot near Steppa Stage at Soweto which was rehabilitated from a dump site.
Our children’s home has allowed us to open our doors to orphaned and vulnerable children housing them in our establishment Smile Community Centre Children Home. It has also allowed us to offer special programs such as a feeding program for the needy children and poor community members.
Our dream is to have enough space to comfortably accommodate and support more children, have a community school and hospital for the centre.