Self Help Group members discussing
challenges facing their children
In Kenya, slums are home to tens of thousands of people. These informal settlement areas are found throughout Nairobi on the edge of residential and business areas, often in steep valleys and along drainage gullies. Most of Nairobi's slums have little to no sanitation, poor access to fresh water and electricity.
Here extreme poverty is felt every day as people gingerly walk along narrow streets and allies that flow with human waste and refuse. Open sewers run alongside homes and schools, seeping into life spreading illness and disease. Slum life is rife with challenges from limited access to health care, to crime and addictions. It is life lived on the edge.
Earlier today, Erica and I travelled to Kariobangi and Haruma slums to meet with members of the Canadian Baptist Ministries' self help group program in Nairobi. Over the past two years, nine new self help groups have begun in these two communities. Our meeting today was with leaders from seven of the women's groups, namely: Rai, Rehobote, Ebeneza, Emmanuel, Neema, and Faruq. Together the mothers were discussing the challenge of raising children in their community and working together to find ways to improve their common future.
"Sisterhood is about experiencing support and solidarity."
As one woman shared, "We bind together to meet our problems." Money is one issue, but so much more than this is the fact that their children face insecurity, drugs, poor environment, and the dangers of living on these streets. Just walking to and from day school is a major concern, as children encounter others who have given into the despair of glue sniffing and other addictions.
Poor sanitation leads to a host of waterborne diseases in Kenya's slums. There is hardly a family represented in the meeting today that doesn't struggle with diarrhoea, skin infections and respiratory disorders, not to mention the threats of typhoid, cholera and other diseases that flourish during the flooding that comes during the rainy seasons.
The pressures of being a mother in such a situation are almost unbearable, and yet these courageous women are meeting that challenge together. As Erica says, "Self Help Groups form bonds of sisterhood among these woman that is even more important than the financial savings. Sisterhood is about experiencing support and solidarity. It is what self help groups are all about."
A child accessing clean water from the
Evangelical Victory Church School
Hope and faith go hand in hand. As Christians, our hope is that God holds the future in His hands. But faith is putting that hope into action. Faith is what gets people out of bed and into the new day. It is about living into our hope.
Faith in action is what ministry is all about, it is about walking together in word and deed as participants in God's transforming work in the world. And we believe that God's work and great hope is for everyone and for every community.
Here on the edges of a city, the women of the Haruma and Kariobangi SHGs are working together to bring hope into the lives of their children and neighbours. Through water filter distribution, nutritional training, health education, the micro savings and loan program, small business creation and child scholarships, self help groups are working in partnership with CBM to improve the lives of their community.
The women of the Haruma and Kariobangi SHGs covet your prayers. Just knowing that people from other parts of the world know and care about their lives and families means so much. Please pray for peace and security in Kenya. A recent rash of robberies and street crime is of great concern to the groups. Please pray for the government of Kenya, that the responsibility for proper sanitation and infrastructure would be taken by the leadership of the civic authorities.
You can join these women in solidarity through your prayer and support. To learn more about the work of Canadian Baptist Ministries in Africa and throughout the world, please see our website at www.cbmin.org