Langas is the second biggest slum in Kenya, but it looks quite different from the slum areas in Nairobi as there is more space. Large, bumpy pathways, and more space around the tiny homes are characterizing Langas. However, the issues of poverty are similar.
Today, I visited a few self help groups which were founded as MMH Selfhelp groups in the past months in close collaboration with Solasa, a partner NGO and “hub of change focusing on women and girls development” in our ecosystem in Western Kenya.
The five Selfhelp groups with 10 – 15 women each have started to participate in our training sessions, run regular weekly meetings on Fridays and have started income generating activities. Some SHGs produce charcoals or have built their own kitchen garden, others have start poultry, produce soap and clean the area where they are living. They do tablebanking to save some „bob“, some Kenyan shillings so that they can do loans among the group members. 5 to 20 Shilling per week – that’s around 10 to 16 Cents in EUR. They all have also started to participate in some of our basic business trainings and health awareness activities.
“It is hard to save money if we live from what we just gain. You have no chance if you are poor. Although we might have some ideas on how to earn some money we cannot even start because we cannot buy the seeds, tools or packaging material that we would need. We live from 200-300 shilling per day with our families (1,50 – 2,50 EuR) , means four to five people. If we had 10 EUR to start we could buy some starting materials, but we don’t…“.
The borderline between two worlds
When we walk through the very large slum one can see clearly the borderline of the two worlds of the rich and the poor. At the outer slum area there is a huge field. Really huge. It belongs to a rich person. On the other site of the field you see the big houses of the town. On the left of the field a modern big combine is harvesting the crop. On the right where the cutting is done many children pick the remaining small corn and make sure that they carry a little at home.
There is a lot of poverty and hopelessness around. The numbers of drugs, sexual abuse and domestic violence have increased significantly. The women tell me that the all try to stay at home latest at seven pm as the area has become very unsafe in the past two years of Covid.
Very recently a girl has been raped close by. Suicides, mainly by men, but also of adolescents have increased.
But there are also other security and safety issues. Often the water boreholes are full of germs and waste ends up in the water holes. Waste awareness is low and toilets are better not to be used. It’s only licensed waste pickers who are allowed to collect the waste.
Also the number of school drop outs is growing as many parents can not afford the school fees any more for the upcoming school year that is going to start in a few days.
Enjoying little progresses and our time together
However, there are also unexpected positive moments in Langas.
Some of the women have started to plant some flowers close to their very modest homes – “ just to bring some nice things around”.
Last, but not least: with all the poverty and hopelessness around we had also some happy time together. These women still have something that we in the Western world often seem to have lost – the capacity to enjoy what is there and to enjoy staying together.
Just have a look and listen:
Tomorrow, we are going to inaugurate our 2nd MMH center in Langas. It’s time to make some more change happen. A change that should bring some hope and a real chance to change for the people living in Langas…