Monica and Simon’s Diary – March 13, 2018
This morning we went running with Kasper Skarrie, the General Secretary of ZB Foundation. We ran together with coach Joe Jesse and elite runners from Japan, Sweden and Kenya who were training. It was such a fantastic experience to run alongside athletes who have run in the Olympics. They were all so friendly and made us feel like we were part of the group. We ran 3 km to warm up and then ran another 3.5 km, however, we soon lost the elite runners off in the distance as they had a much faster pace than us! We are very grateful for the opportunity today to run alongside these world class athletes!
After our run we met up with the others to visit a slum area called Kibera, which is the biggest slum area in Nairobi, with over 1 000 000 living there. Most of the people living in Kibera are in extreme poverty, earning less than USD 1.90 per day. Many people living in Kibera are without running water, electricity, and toilets. We were accompanied with a guide for the walk around and four men, Osmond, William, John and Roger who escorted us for security reasons. Throughout the walk around we never felt scared or threatened in anyway, the atmosphere seemed friendly. Despite our feeling of safety, we were told that it is not safe to walk after 22:00, especially for women as there is no police or security in the area, and the rate of rape is high. In the slum area there was garbage everywhere, and an open sewer system so there were many mixed smells in the air. Our guide explained how the slum area is divided into small villages and each village is made up of people belonging to specific tribes. Many people come to live in the slum area because of its location. It is only a 20-30 min walk to town and a one hour walk to the industrial area. Women in this area are seen as the “backbone” of the community because they start small businesses.
On the outskirts of the slum we visited a medical clinic and maternity ward called Ushrika that was built in 2003. It was built, sponsored and managed by Mad Spain who helped them manage it for the first three years. He passed over the responsibility to the staff and manager Tom who now run it by themselves. As explained by Tom, maternity care is free on paper, but, the civil service does not take good care of people who do not pay. Often free clinics are not properly staffed when women arrive and that certain classes of women do not have good access to maternity care. Patients who visit the Ushrika maternity clinic must pay but it is subsidized.
In the maternity ward there is one room with six beds that provides both prenatal (pre-birth care) and antenatal (post-birth care). There is also a delivery room with two beds in it. If a woman is giving birth they do not use pain killers, nor do they have a theater room (operating room) for mothers who need a C-section or specialized care for baby or mom. If an emergency happens during delivery, then the mother and baby must go to the nearest hospital which is more than 30 min away. On average 20 women give birth at this maternity ward each month, and they have approximately 10 appointments each day. Along with the maternity ward, they also have a garden, lab where they can administer blood tests on the spot, and a separate health clinic building. At the health clinic people can come for HIV check-ups, receive medicine and basic health check-ups. There is a waiting room and examination room as well as one ward for females and men, each with 3-4 beds per room. In the health clinic there is also a pharmacy so that the people can fill their prescriptions.
In Kibera the HIV rate is very high. We were told it is not due to a lack of education, but rather the people ignore the risk of spreading HIV. We got to visit the house of the woman who is the founder of the local primary school. She lived in a small, two room house (10×10 feet). She had a sofa and tv and many things piled everywhere. She must buy drinking water as there is no running water, and uses that water to bathe with outside after it gets dark or else she would have to go to a local bathing place. We visited the local primary school that she founded in 2008 that has 350 students and 16 teachers. We were so happy to hand out pens and pencils to the children and thrilled to see Lööf Foundation give a donation to the school to help them buy school supplies! We got to help and hand out many baby/children’s clothing that Sophie, Kika, Lisa and us brought with us. A huge thank you to everyone who donated baby/children’s clothing to us. It was such a special feeling to be able to contribute to the young children living here
Our guide told us that he tries to provide community support to the young boys and girls by creating three football teams. He uses these football teams to also pass along education and knowledge to the youth about HIV/AIDS, sexual health and safe sex. He told us that it is very taboo here to discuss condoms, relationships, etc., between men and women in Africa. He feels like these footballs teams is the only way where youth can openly speak about these topics, gain support, and education. It has been a very long and tiring day, but also very eye opening for us. We are ending today with a newfound sense of gratitude for all things we tend to take for granted such as running water, proper sanitation system, electricity and free health care that we are privileged to have in Sweden and U.K. As much as it was overwhelming to see so many people living below the poverty and their living conditions, we were also very happy to see the small contributions that people are making by opening schools, a health/maternity clinic and even starting football teams for youth!
Monica and Simon
Lööf Foundation volunteers