Sanctuary in the slums

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The Salvation Army cares for Kenya’s needy children.

by Ruth Vincent –

Home to approximately three million people, Kenya’s Kibera slums are considered the largest in Africa, after Soweto in South Africa. The Salvation Army Kenya East Territory has three corps within these slums. Kibera Corps, the largest, has benefited from the Kenya Trust and ongoing investment from other Salvation Army territories. It is a haven of peace among the chaos that is Kibera.

Nearby, two other corps struggle to meet the needs of the people.

Lina Saba and Mashimoni corps lie deep within the Kibera slums, accessible only by foot. Each corps is developing its services, responding to the local need for nursery care and schooling.

Conditions, however, are desperate. Nothing looks like a nursery; there are no bright colors, no toys, no equipment, no kids’ furniture—in fact, there is nothing. The forms used within the church for other purposes are tipped on the side to provide tables for the children. The walls are made of mud and cardboard.

Parents leave their children, often from 6:30 a.m. for up to 12 hours. The kids always arrive hungry—few families have regular income since there is no consistent employment, and the parents spend the day looking for casual work or selling vegetables or bananas on the roadside. Many families live on less than $1 a day.

Although the corps officers attempt to feed the children, they often do not have the funds to do so. They try to give them an African porridge mix, or ugali—a staple food in Kenya consisting of maize flour mixed with water.

In spite of the poor conditions, the children love coming to the nursery. The officers work hard to care for the children and provide early education; their work at these two nursery schools is Christian love in action. The children love to sing Army choruses, to recite Bible verses, to dance and to learn. Always willing to show off their skills to visitors, they are proud of what they have achieved.

These children, like kids anywhere else, deserve to have food and basic equipment and the opportunity to learn. Education is highly valued in Kenya, and a good nursery school education will give a child the best chance of being accepted in primary school and going on later into employment.

If you would like help these children, contact Major Isobel Robinson at Western territorial headquarters:

Ruth Vincent is the sponsorship director for the Kenya East Territory.

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