Day 9 afternoon: Kibera Art Fest

With Uweza Art Gallery and Kibera-based photographer Brian Otieno, we came up with this idea of organizing an event to promote the artistic talents and creativity of Kibera. Many of them have no way to show their artwork or even the cash to buy a camera or paints and brushes. Today was the opening of Kibera ArtFest with the exhibition of 40 Kibera-based artists. For many of them, it was the first time they could see their work printed in 16×20.

We gathered a professional jury to elect the best three photography and best three paintings. GoDown Arts Centre Executive Director Joy Mboya,  AFP photographer Yasuyoshi Chiba, Reuters photographer Thomas Mukoya, glass artist Tonney Mugo and artist Longinos Nagila.

After deliberation, we elected for the photography:

1/ Through mud playground

2/ Sunday Morning

3/ The life Between

And for the paintings and installation

1/ Daily Kibera presents Slum Touring

2/ Police Brutality

3/ Graffiti 2

We had two TV and one radio Station who came to cover the event and lots of guests came to see the exhibition. Big success!

Day 9 morning : once you start reading a good book to children, be ready to finish it the same day!

Another day at Red Rose School with the children. From reading Charlotte’s web, to teaching a class on climat change and pollution, to organizing a ping-pong competition on the table we bought, to creating a mural, to buying equipment for the safe house (sheets, buckets, tooth brush, sandals, tv, chairs,…), this was another very busy morning for the team Project Kenya.

Day 8…and the winners are…

Second day of the pitch competition at Kibera Constituency. Yesterday with the help of five other organizations we trained about 200 young adults on how to build a business and pitch it. Today, 21 of the groups pitching presented their project in front of a jury composed by the French Embassy, Women Enterprise Fund, Uwezo Fund and Project Kenya.

Criteria of selection of a project

1/ sustainability

2/ originality

3/ eradication of poverty

4/ compliance with the law

5/ structure and organization of the team

6/ dynamism, clarity and sucyto convey their idea

7/ credibility

8/ proven idea if already launched before competition

9/plan on how they will use the cash they will get from us.

We selected 7 projects:

1/ Waste management by Guetto Clean:

Daily collection in shops, government office, hospital, private houses. Need a plastic shredder machine to develop their business

2/ Design and creation of bags, carpets, duvets,…by Young Star African Designers

Group of 5 women who create quality custom-made items. International clients. Need seeing machines, fabrics and other sewing equipment

3/ Candle making by Kibera Deaf Group

They need more machines to be able to make more candles.

4/ Organic Peanut butter made by Rozeinuts

They sell the homemade jars to hospital, schools and shops. They need to buy a machine to increase the production and increase the marketing to reach outside Kibera and Kenya.

5/Table banking and loaning by Destine Family

This membership group is composed of young mothers who support each others. They all have a stall or a shop and counted on the loans to develop their business.

6/ Good Sense is a community based group of young adults who are fighting against all the different challenges their neighborhood is suffering : crime, lack of sanitation, shortage of water supply, pollution…

From creating small charcoal business to building toilets to collecting garbage. To be able to welcome more people at their toilets facilities, they need a tank to store water but they also would like to develop a table banking system to be able to help those you want to create a small business locally.

7/ creation of a blog and Application to deliver accurate information about Kibera. “No, we are not drinking sewage water as you can read in some newspaper! We want to change the stories on Kibera and write about the right side of the community!” Mtaani Kibera targets readers from Kibera but also and mostly tourists, journalists or NGO from all around the word. They need to buy computers, rent an office and pay the writers.

All the seven projects will receive a training from I Choose Life -Africa over the next three months to assure that the project is sustainable and ready to move from startup to SMEs, they will receive a 0% interest loan which they will have to start refund after 6 months.

We will also be able to follow up with each of the group and help them develop contacts in the US if needed.

Tonight, we are sad…Raphaele had to go back to NY. Bye bye, it was so much fun to have you with us this year. Have a safe trip!

Day 7: Back to business… Literally!!

Today we missed our first day with the children of Red Rose to spend the day with some young entrepreneurs of Kibera.

A day to empower our youth”!

Project Kenya initiated this Business Acceleration Training Program with the help of Uweza Foundation, I Choose Life-Africa and the Center for Community Development and Human Right.

For the first time, the 4 organizations join efforts under the Constituency of Ken Okoth (Kibera MP) umbrella to reduce unemployment in Kibera where funds and education are desperately lacking.

After three years of deep immersion in Kibera’s community and extensive listening of what it is to be a young adult in the slum, Pierrick decided to focus this year their actions towards young adults as youth unemployment is a major challenge among 16 to 35 years-old. This phenomenon is exacerbated in Kibera by the lack of higher education (60% of the children drop out of school after the Primary program and only very few reach College level) but also lack of access to information.

Project Kenya decided to allocate some of their raised funds to micro loans given to businesses with the better potential of becoming a start-up.

Today was meant to gather young entrepreneurs under one roof (20 teams composed of about 10 persons) and to empower them and encourage them to put their idea/product into action. Tomorrow , after all the 20 pitches, 10 teams will be chosen and given the necessary funds to start their business. Each project will receive a free three month training by the professionals from I Choose Life Africa, the Center for Community Development and Uweza Foundation. Those three organizations will mentor them all along their journey, in order to make them responsible for their actions.

Today, the young entrepreneurs had a direct access to young successful entrepreneurs (Fat Boy Animations), members of the government, heads of foundations, trainers, mentors and motivational speaker, whose goals were to convey the message that “Kibera is the home of Talents” and that no matter the many challenges that they face on a daily basis, POSSIBILITY, RESPONSIBILITY and POSITIVITY are the key to success, if only you believe in yourself and work hard to achieve your goal.

Malo and Pierrick took the stand to share their knowledge of Youth Empowerment Program in the US. They reinforced the message that anything is possible in Kibera, given their strong sense of community, the number of talents and amazing support system. As Malo said, “you cannot make it alone!” You need a combination of mentors and minds behind one idea to make it successful. “Business is about relationships and creating a movement that will support and make your business a success”. Pierrick put a strong emphasis on character and ethic of the loving people in Kibera. He said that “a college degree does not define you” and also that “failure is okay.” “You have to work hard to identify a problem and then think of the solution, and if this solution does not work, think of another, and another, and another, until one will begin to solve the problem. “

This day was also about giving the business tools to make things happen, as we all know that being entrepreneur is a process. You are not born an entrepreneur, you become one, through hard work, try-outs, failures and never giving up!

The young entrepreneurs were invited to share to share with us their daily struggles and the solutions they see as viables to overcome them:

– The problem: Unemployment. The possible solutions are the nurturing of talents, the creation of opportunities, the training and the recycling of plastic and waste.

– The problem: Lack of information. The solution: Penetrate inside community and diffuse the information, like the fact that there are funds available for young entrepreneurs. But on a wider scale, the population of Kibera needs to look outside of Kibera, open their eyes on ideas coming from elsewhere, read international newspapers and magazines, surf the Internet and bring whatever they learn as possible solutions to problems in Kibera.

– The problem: lack of Education. There are 9 primary government schools and 5 government secondary schools. Classrooms are overcrowded, with sometimes 100 students per class in high school. The solution: education program for secondary schools and vocational schools (professional, design, etc) that give way to a job more quickly. Education is key!

– The problem: Lack of action. The solution: do it! Take action! Do not put off your action!

– The problem: the environment is not clean. The solutions: the people should take care of their environment and a recycling machine that would transform the plastic into recycled object to be put back in use in Kibera.

We all learned so much today about what it is to live in Kibera. But we also understood that the people here have what it take within them to make it a better place! We just have to give them a little guidance, a little funding, and a lot of motivation, like the one given by Johnson Mwakazi, “building an entrepreneur is a mindset”, You have to live beyond the greater good, take responsibilities and ownership.

Until tomorrow, when the winners start on a long journey of hardship but so much reward, and Project Kenya will be alongside to help them succeed!

Thank you! Raphaele

Day 6: behind the smile…

Today everyone resumed their activities at Red Rose School. Paul taught the 8th graders about cars and their mechanics and was surprised by the interest of the kids in electric cars which are very rare in Kenya. Alice taugh piano and guitar to some students and discovered they barely knew how to read notes. With the help of the teacher, even more interested that the students, she explained what was an octave, minor or major chord…she also taugh ballet to 22 girls in the afternoon. Beautiful moment to see those girls in leopards and ballet shoes dancing with grace among metal iron sheets!

Malo taugh maths in the same class than last year and was pleased to see some improvement in the maths skills in one year particularly for one of the boys. Dimitri taught 7th graders how to present themselves in French and started a new project with Paul. They are creating a mural with the help of 14 kids. First they asked them to draw something which can motivate them in the future but it has to be related to Kenya. They drew a river (of life) and added each elements the kids drew around it to compose the mural. Next step will be to paint the mural on the wall of the safe house.

Last Friday, I had asked the class I was teaching geography to, to invent they own Utopia place and to present it today. When I told them that they could win prizes, it was like a “beehive”, everone was excited to win and present a good project and suddenly asked me thousand of questions. I was struck by the fact they had hard time not to copy what they knew already and let their imagination wonders. It was like they were describing a Kibera but in another world. Then I had so much fun showing then some snapchat trick and started a babmington game in the courtyard with Malo.

Raphaele had a great day, teaching numbers in French and singing with the little one “1-2-3, nous irons au bois,4-5-6 cueillir des cerises…”she also experimented how to turn the spatula in the super huge pot to prepare ugali for 400 kids. She got few more muscle…

During this time, Marie was meeting with suppliers and builders to talk about renovation of the school and also interviewed with Jaypee, the director of red rose, a psychologist who can come talk with kids having a rough time at home. And this is on this topic that I would like to close this post as today some of us met for the first time the kids they are sponsoring. When you start talking to them and give time to express themselves, then behind their smile you can discover the traumas. Few example of what we heard today: Willy has eleven siblings. The parents are fighting all the time and the father leaves and disappears for long period of time. His daily life would pretty difficult if Jeff from Uweza were not helping him.

Joan, sponsored by Alice, lives with her brother and sister and the dad. The mom left one day and only comes back very rarely. The dad is very busy getting money and with her siblings they are all the time alone. She cooks, the brother cleans the house and the little sister prepares breakfast.

A lot of the kids have a very difficult daily life: Hiv positive, no parents, staying with guardian, abused by a member of the family, sent to be housecleaner instead of going to school or doing their homework. The girls from early age carry responsibilities that are not adapted to their age. Most of them start at 6am and when they come home in the evening, they have so many housechores to do that they cannot go to bed before 11pm.

Jaypee was telling the psychologist about this boy in 4th grade whose grades were sliding down suddenly. Red Rose investigated and discovered that the dad tried to rape his sister in front of him. Or also this young girl in 3rd grade who lost her mom. Last year she stayed with her aunt who was still a teenager. One night, this aunt on the other side of a curtain suicided herself and this little girl witnessed everything. How can you have a normal life after this? This is why Project Kenya wants to hire a person who can work with the kids around their traumas but also train the teachers how to respond to those cases.

Day 5 : “Harambee”…let’s come together


The kenyan soccer team motto is a true image of the 5th day in Kibera for all of us! This sense of community spirit, this « Esprit de Corps » as we say in French is what punctuated first the soccer tournament that Pierrick, Paul, Dimitri and Malo organized with the help of the Uweza Soccer team, as a final point to the last three days clinic. Project Kenya offered to many of them their first experience of playing on a nice turf soccer field, very different from the muddy or dusty pitch where they usually play on at Toy School. The relationship created between all the soccer players, the sense of togetherness and their shared practices made this experience happy and memorable for all! You should have seen the smile on those 120 or more players on the field this morning!
HARAMBEE for the first part of the day!

We then had the privilege to tour the studio of the young up-and coming fashion designer AVIDO, whose order book is starting to be filled with artists and rappers :TY $ or Bruno Mars are big fans of his Wax bombers.

David Avido showed us his house in Kibera and explained to us how Uweza helped him stay focus on his dream. They develop his talent but also self-confidence to finish High School, get his diploma in Fashion Design and develop his will to go after vision!
He would not have done it “without the support of the Kibera community, and the friendships he developed growing up in Kibera! “
Another example of “let’s come together” in Kibera or HARAMBEE for the second part of the day!
Of course, we all grabbed the opportunity to dress like stars and put our hand on our very own piece from Avido!!

Then we spent the rest of the afternoon at the Uweza Center to witness the weekly meeting of the “Golden Girls”, an empowerment program for girls 3 to 14 years old, created by Uweza and brought to life by Agripina, whose education was sponsored by the foundation and who decided to give back to the community by volunteering at Uweza on the weekend.
Beside life skills, she is teaching these girls how to respect themselves as a fundamental to respect others, but also to develop self-confidence through creative activities and self-defense through their weekly Taekwondo class. You should have seen the determination in those girls’ eyes when practicing Taekwondo! They were all shouting with one voice with such an intensity! It made us realize that this girl empowerment group would need to be replicated or reproduced in Los Angeles, New York and everywhere else!!
HARAMBEE, all together for the third part of our day!!

We loved exchanging with Avido and Agripina, both natives of Kibera and hearing about their gratitude towards this sense of coming together and amazing sense of community in Kibera.
Despite the daily challenges and dangers that everyone can go through while living there, they both affirmed that Kibera has given them so much to a point that they “will never turn [their] back on Kibera”. We noticed that everyone who has succeeded to find a good job or have a good situation, they all want to give back and let the whole community benefit from their own success and lead the way! We should all follow their footsteps!
HARAMBEE is the very essence of Kibera!
Can’t wait for tomorrow’s adventure!!!


Day 4 in Kibera: Let me take you for a tour

Today was the day of home visits. Everyone had the chance to walk through the slum and spend some time with a local family at their house. Those time are precious because it helps you see and feel the reality of their everyday life. At home, people tends to be more open and talk easily about their challenges.

Reactions of the group tonight: when they asked us what were our challenges, we didn’t know what to answer as our life is so easy compare to them!

Follow us through the tour…

The sparkle of the day: Jeff Okoth, Uweza Director and co-trip leader invited us to his house to eat delicious chapati and meet his one year old daughter Amor and sweet wife Noelle.

As it is Saturday, we stopped at a local bar to have a Tusker beer with Uweza team and then I took everyone for a good meal at Junction Mall. C’est la fête le week-end…