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Hope in the Ghetto

Hope in the Ghetto

By John Muhanji, FUM Africa Ministries Director 

Is there hope for anyone who lives in Kibera? If no hope is evident, why do people end up staying in such a hopeless place when they know the consequences? Why do we have an alarming increase of people living in the Kibera slums rather than a decrease? What attracts so many people to this place? One would answer — it is the challenges of life. 

In the midst of all this poverty, the Quakers established a school in the deepest part of the slum. The Lindi School was born in this hopeless environment to try and offer the image of hope to the growing young people. The Quaker school stands in the midst of the collapsing society called the Ghetto of Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya. The Kibera slum is one of the largest slums in Africa with a population of over 800,000 people. Hygiene and cleanliness plus environmental order are things thought to be past tense. 

The children who come to this school are from many different backgrounds. Some come from broken homes, single parents (mostly single mothers), homes where parents are both HIV/AIDS infected, homes dealing with abusive drugs and prostitution and those from good homes but poor. All these children are innocent and have a right to education. Lindi Friends School stands out, offering an olive branch of education to these little ones in the society. Lindi School was established to provide a unique type of education to the ghetto children, an education that meets and addresses their conditions. 

It was realized that academics alone could not address many issues children are experiencing in the ghetto. Therefore, Lindi seeks to provided the following to the ghetto children:

  • academic learning, like what is being taught in other schools;
  • feeding program, for many children the meal they get at school will be the only meal they get until the following day;
  • counseling program, since many children come from homes with shaky backgrounds with collapsed moral values, they need a counselor to help them understand life and why they are where they are, and to provide them with hope of one day getting out of the ghetto;
  • technical/vocational education, providing them with skills since many will never manage to reach high school;
  • peace education, to show them an alternative way and encourage them to be peace crusaders in their communities.

The Lindi School is currently challenged because there is no feeding program and thus is not living up to its expectations and goals. The challenges of teacher turnover are very high due to poor motivation (no salaries). The school lacks a strong education advisor to help implement programs and realize them as planned. Lindi lacks an educational counselor in the school to help these children learn how to integrate with other children. Besides these challenges, Lindi School remains a school full of potential to transform the lives of many young people in the ghetto. 

I have a passion for the Lindi School! I welcome all Quakers to be friends with the Lindi School and enable the ghetto children to understand what Friendship means to their lives. The Lindi School needs you and you equally need it, too. 

This school has been under the oversight management of AQUAVIS (Africa Quaker Vision) since its inception. But on February 5, 2010, the school was officially handed over to the oversight management of Nairobi Yearly Meeting of Friends. The handing over ceremony was officially witnessed by the general secretary of Friends United Meeting, Sylvia Graves, and officers from the FUM Africa Ministries Office.