Mji wa Huruma News

The newsletter of Matumaini Youth Group

Free Medical Camp May 1, 2002

Health problems continue being a major hussle among the residents of Mji wa Huruma. It is also a concern and a major nightmare to many Kenyans. As with several social and sanitary services, the health sector is rapidly crumbling. Most hospitals and health centers lack essential facilities as drugs and personnel. The main reason for lack of staff is inadequate or under-payment. These professionals are not well remunerated and thus end up going either private or leave the country in search of “GREENER PASTURES”. This has led to a brain drain in the health sector. And those that remain in the country and go into private practise exorbitantly charge Kenyans leaving them in the mercies of God knows who. It is for these reasons that every Kenyan would cherish free medical care. Karura Community Chapel, a local church community has had a leading role in caring and helping the less  fortunate in the community. They offer spiritual as well as material help. It is in this regard that they have in the past organised free medical camps in the village. The latest was on Saturday the 23rd of March 2002. As expected there was a huge turn out. The doctors had a huge supply of drugs. These are normally donated by pharmaceutical firms and individual well wishers.


 As mentioned above, medical attention is very expensive; worse so for the poor folks at Mji  wa Huruma. This therefore explains why such free services will always attract huge gatherings. The residents of the village are vulnerable to ailments owing to surroundings and also eating habits. The camp was scheduled to begin at 9.00 a.m. However enthusiastic members of the community and surrounding areas started arriving as early as 8.00 a.m. and patiently waited in queues. There were two different queues; those with dental problems and the rest with general health cases. Those young enough just stood to give room for the elderly.

Medical fraternity

There were about 30 medical personell. Majority were students from Nairobi University`s Dental Unit. These dealt with dental problems while the rest who were qualified and reputable doctors from Kenyatta National Hospital tackled all other ailments.

Indications from the two rows indicated that there were more people with dental problems than any other diseases.

All in all more than 300 patients were attended to. All got prescriptions where applicable as there were enough of these while others were refered to major hospitals for advanced treatments. Those with eye problems were refered to the famous Kikuyu Eye Unit while the rest of the ailments were refferd to Kenyatta National Hospital.

Symposium on hygiene

After everybody was attended to, experts held a talk on issues regarding hygiene for mothers. This was crucial as they realised some of the health problems were  result of lack of knowledge of simple precautionary steps. First they were advised on the need for cleanliness in all aspects, proper (balanced) dieting and oral health. At the end of it they were given essential stuffs to set them off. These included sanitary soaps and detergents, toothpastes and foodstuffs.

We thank the Karura Community Chapel and all the doctors who participated and welcome them all back at a later date.
The other side of Nairobi February 28, 2002

The German School students had their projects in the week starting 4th-7th February. They were expected to write project reports at the end of the week. The theme for this year’s project was “The other side of Nairobi”. 

The aim as per the theme was to expose these students to the kind of lives people live away from the kind of lifestyles they (students) lead. They live comfortable and sometimes lavish lives oblivious of what less endowed Kenyans undergo in their ordinary lives. These therefore meant the students visiting mainly projects within informal settlements popularly referred to as slums. 

Among the projects they were to visit was the kindergarten at Mji wa Huruma; which is a project of Matumaini Youth Group. The students were to visit other projects in Nairobi and were therefore divided into three groups of four students. Two of the groups visited the village alternately. The first was in the village on Monday and Tuesday (4th and 5th February 2002) while the other visited the village on Wednesday the 6th. Both the two groups did some work (drawings and clay moulding) with the kids at the nursery school. They also went round the village. The students had real experience with the kind of lives we live in the slums. Some really were interesting to guide through the shabby homesteads villagers call homes. At some point, we visited an old man who felt fascinated enough to request these students try and get some willing people in German to help him pay school fees for his son who is in Secondary School (he has three others in Primary School). They were sincere with him in admitting that it is not so easy to get people undertake such kind of sponsorships but all the same were optimistic that this could yield something as they hoped to talk it with some friends back in German.. We just hope some help could be gotten.

Keeping the Village Clean January 30, 2002

In keeping up with our goals (keeping the village clean), we continue to hold our monthly clean-up exercise every last Saturday of the month. This month (January), we had the event on th 26th. In the past one month, The German Lutheran Church had donated funds to replace most of our tools most of which had worn out. We purcased a few tools with the funds in late December and had promised to utilise the tools as soon as possible. This we did by holding a clean-up exercise in January. After collecting all the rubbish, we dumped them in dug-up pits and set them on fire. A representative from the Germany community Mrs. Karin Wolf, also a teacher at the German School participated. As usual, we mobilised youngsters we use in the football projects. This helps instil a sense of responsibility in them.

Fight against AIDS December 20, 2002

AIDS is among the highest ranked threats to the Africa People. Together with other calamities as droughts, famine and civil wars, the disease is claiming too many lives and threatens so many others. In Kenya, the scourge is responsible for at least 700 lives daily and has been declared a national disaster. Among the Provinces worst hit are Nyanza, Coast and Western.

The trends in these areas have been attributed to several reasons among them primitive cultural practices that abet the spread as: female circumcission, wife inheritance, early (forced) marriages etc.

There has been declared total war against the epidemic. Nairobi Para-Legal Network (NPLN), an arm of Matumaini Youth and whose main objective is creation of civic awareness has embarked on a serious campaign to create awareness on the hazards. We conduct seminars monthly at the local Catholic Church.  

The international community also has come out strongly in supporting the fight against HIV/AIDS. Most countries have pledged both financial and material support. All avenues have been mobilised and effectively used in Kenya. There are posters all over, publications, and hand-outs, T-shirts and caps bearings messages. The electronic media has also contributed immensely in giving out warning messages.

The German Embassy went an extra step and used sports fora to pass the necessary messages which were printed in sports wear. The Embassy has donated trophies and sports equipment (football) that are given out during these sports events. In December 2001, the embassy organised an annual soccer tournament for boys aged 14yrs and under. Among participating teams were German School, Italian School, French School, Swedish School, SoS Village and Matumini. We participated in the tournament for the first time. In the one day tournament, teams were divided into two pools (three teams each to play two matches before proceeding to the semi-finals) where we were pooled against both French School and SoS Village. We beat SoS Village to reach the semis where we eliminated the hosts German School. In the finals  we beat French School (2 goals to nil) to win the trophy which defending campions St. Austins Academy were unable to defend. The tournament being played annually will be on again later next year in December (2002) with Matumaini Youth as defending champions.

New class at Lower Huruma Day Nursery School March 7, 2001

Matumaini Youth members with funds from the Nordic Christmas Bazaar collections constructed a new class at the local nursery school. The bazaar, an annual event held at Swedish School, Nairobi is conducted by residents from the Nordic countries, namely Sweden, Norway, and Denmark working in Kenya. Previously, funds from similar collections have been used to rehabilitate the old and tattered classes which were originally of earthen floor. The work at the new class was carried out over the Christmas holidays. The new class was necessary as the population for school-going children continues to rise. The construction was carried out in three phases. The first phase was the foundation works. This  involved digging  of trenches and levelling of the ground. Next, the posts and the timbers were put up and finally the structure was erected. The new class has new furniture. There is also a separate room where the teachers can store their things. The same room will also be used by members of the youth group to carry out computer lessons for members of the community to enable them participate fully in building the web-site. This makes it necessary for the class to be connected to the mains as computers can only work with electricity.

However, the class doesn’t have a teacher yet as we’ve not found people kind enough to pay for the salaries. Still, it is desirable to initiate a feeding programme to provide some meals to the kids as some do come to school without any. The school being in one of the poorest informal settlements where majority of parents are either casual labourers or unemployed, explains why some of these children come to school without enough food and clothing. This greatly hampers their learning speeds and abilities and hence the need for supplementary meals and free uniforms. We appeal to well wishers out there to come forward and assist these kids.

Nairobi Urban Land Campaign

July 6, 2000

Muungano wa Wanavijiji has launched an intensive campaign on urban land in Nairobi. The main aim is to agitate more than ever before that people be allowed to own or be allocated permanent settlements. The campaigns were conducted from door to door. Communities are grouped according to the Divisions of Nairobi known as zones(these are Kasarani, Starehe, Kamkunji, Makadara, Embakasi, Athi River, Langata, Dagoretti and Westlands) and Mji wa Huruma is in Westlands Zone.

In Westlands Zone, the campaign kicked off on Tuesday 26 May. The villages targeted were Kaptagat, Kibagare, Kileleshwa, Soweto Spring Valley, Westlands open air market, Dennis Pritt Road, Waruku, Mwaka, Ndumboini, Jericho and Mji wa Huruma. All were visited save for Soweto and Westlands market.

A committee of eight carried out the campaign. After three days an evaluation was carried out.

The committee visited Mji wa Huruma on Sunday 28 May 2000. As usual, we went from door to door. At the end of the day, the residents of the village promised to support the campaign. This was to be implemented by a committee that was to be formed within two weeks.

After the campaigns, each zone was to hold conventions to bring together people from all the villages visited to come up with a plan of action. In Westlands, the convention was held on Saturday 24 June at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Kangemi. Each of the 10 communities targeted was to send 20 representatives.

Out of a total of 200 participants expected however, only 37 turned up. Mji wa Huruma was represented by 3 people. The low turnout was due to a combination of setbacks:

There was short notice as mobilisation was carried out only three days prior to the event.

  • There was uncertainty as to whether the launch would actually take off (it was initially scheduled for Saturday 17 June).
  • There was also uncertainty as the venue had not been officially booked (due to delay of funds).
  • Those from far off places could not afford the fares (esp. from Mji wa Huruma).

Despite the low turnout, the launch was a success.

The function started at 10.00a.m. with a word of prayer. This was followed by self introductions. Next was a brief overview of the campaign by Mwangi Mutiso of Westlands market. Wamuti Gachugia from Soweto Spring Valley was next with a history and background of the struggle and formation of Muungano wa Wanavijiji. He also gave an account of success stories and activities carried out in different communities facing eviction. Among them was Mt. View (along Waiyaki Way) whose residents were compensated with a larger farm elsewhere. 

The next session was a representative (one from each village) to give an account of what they had done in their respective communities in propagating the campaigns.

At the end of the launch, participants agreed to:

  • Come up with village committees to implement the campaign in their respective villages.
  • Those committees to meet on 15 July 2000 to elect a zonal committee to oversee the activities at the zonal level.
  • Each village to send representatives to official launch on 1 July 2000 at Ufungamano House