Kipsongo slum dates back to 1972 when people fled harsh living conditions and violence in West Pokot, a region in the North of Kenya. Arriving in Kitale in search of a better life, they found themselves without social support or the means to return home. They settled on a dump site which eventually became their home. Poverty in Kipsongo slum fuelled levels of violence, abuse, prostitution, crime, young motherhood and disease. For these reasons, the community suffered marginalization from the wider population.

“They own nothing but their precious lives. They live on what people throw away. Their houses are made of plastic/ polythene sheets of all kind fixed together. When children elsewhere leave every morning to go to school, the children from this area leave for the streets. The children’s legs are invested with parasites.” Sr.Margaret Wangeci, 2008

Today there are 362 families on 4 acres of land. The difference is incredible. They all live in mud homes, growing vegetables in grow bags, the children are going to school and many of their parents have jobs or businesses. It is now known as Kipsongo Village.

Projects

Education

This program prepares children to enter primary education through a day-care education unit, it sponsors older children through primary education and it provides a feeding program to encourage school attendance and concentration. Education is key to keeping children off the streets and providing them with opportunities for a better future. As of March 2015, 250 children have gone through this program, including 37 who have just started in January.

There is an adult literacy group made up of 28 women and men (in 2015). They have the option of sitting official government education exams. 4 participants have done this and one has gained employment whilst others have now started up their own businesses. This program also includes life skills education through seminars on topics such as human rights, substance abuse workshops, behaviour change, health and hygiene, gender related issues, and more. Today these have helped the women to gain confidence in their self-awareness, self-respect and self-esteem, as well as having a change of attitude towards life.

Orphans in the slum are supported to attend school and gain sponsorship for further education. In 2015 we supported 40 orphans who were being fostered with Kipsongo families to go to school in Turkana.

Economic Empowerment

The women’s group started in 2008 with 40 women, by 2011 it had grown to 85. In 2015 there are 20 women in the group as others have left to join the agricultural group. All participants of this project have undergone training in income generating activities such as making necklaces, bracelets, key-holders, rosaries, soap/shampoo, mats, baskets, cards, crocheting and candles. From the skills, self-respect and motivation gained in the women’s group, some members have gained employment. Other women in the project are selling the goods they make to create additional income for their family.

This project aims towards achieving community self sustainability. Groups of women are taught how to grow maize and are given access to land to grow their crops. They are given rent for the first year, after which they are able pay themselves using the money they make from their crops. Harvests are used to feed their families or sold for money at the local market. So far 36 women have been set up growing maize on 11 acres of land. Another 15 will start in 2015.

Health

This group was handed over to AMPATH, a HIV/AIDS program in Kitale District Hospital. They are 30 residents of Kipsongo in the program. This group provides social and psychological support, whilst encouraging good treatment practice and testing of those that do not know their status.They are also involved in ‘Table Banking’, a support system for Small scale business.

Two social workers are employed to give social and psychological support through individual counseling, family counseling, group therapy, spiritual formation, monitoring the running of small businesses and home visits.

Financial support is given in times of emergency situations. Overall health has been greatly improved due to successes in other projects especially from house building and life skills education.

Housing

From rubbish domes to mud homes! 150 small shacks made from rubbish where turned into mud houses. Run by the women (and a few men) from the slum, this project has been central to the success so far; significantly improving health, security, community building and self-respect. Most of all it has created homes that the women can be proud of, one that they have made together with their own hands. The group also pulled together to build houses for people who are unable to make their own. 15 toilet latrines were also built in 2011.

Africa Direct and Kitale Good Shepherd Sisters

Building new homes

Turning 150 rubbish domes into mud homes and building a toilet block

Children's Education

Funding emergency costs for children's daycare unit in 2013/14

Sowing Machines

In 2010 20 machines were bought with co-funding from Electric Aid

Orphan Support Program

In 2015 we supported 40 orphans from Kipsongo to go to school in Turkana

Renting land for the Women's Ag Program

36 women growing maize on 11 acres of Land by 2015

Training in Income Generating Acivities

At the start we funded training for the women's groups until they became self sufficient

Medical Fund

At the start we offered financial support for emergency medical attention