Well, it’s February, 2014, and I’m back in Kenya working with Power of Hope Kibera ( POHK.ORG ), a Kibera and Boulder-based NGO (non-governmental organization) whose mission is to improve health in families through hygiene awareness — employing liquid soap hand-washing techniques and behavior change. They have a wealth of information on their website so please go there and read all about it.
Kibera is Kenya’s largest slum and the arguably the largest urban slum in Africa. The population numbers are almost impossible to gauge, but Wikipedia puts it at anywhere between 150,000 and a million. Kibera is divided into 9 “cities”, one of which is Silanga, in the middle, where we are working. See our GoPro video of our ride into Silanga: click here.
I feel it is important to note that this particular project, unlike other hundreds of NGOs working in Kibera, was founded by activist residents of Kibera to fill a very specific need: to reduce the death rate of children under age 5 of diarrheal disease. They eventually partnered with the University of Denver (Global Washes) and now have their own non-profit NGO status with a new fiscal sponsor, Living Green Foundation.
The business model is simple: train women in hygiene and sales techniques so that they go out into their own communities and repeat what they have learned. These same women will eventually become trainers.
My own involvement with POHK started because of my personal relationship with Chris Okere (co-founder and community director) and Kelly Fenson-Hood (executive director). Knowing that I was a photographer, world traveler, and adventurer, Kelly invited me to be POHK’s documentary photographer. I was ready for this type of volunteer position and so I gladly accepted. My first trip to Kibera was July, 2013, where I stayed for a month. I am here again for another month and am pleased to report that the project is coming together nicely in part due to the efforts and expertise of Chris (Junior) and Kelly, Nicole Grable and Heather Winner from the U.S., Rhynna, Sylvia and Claire from Kenya…and of course the amazing soap sellers: Hellen, Ruth, Loreto and Angeline. I should also mention our security team, Joshua, Willy, and Jon, without whose help we would not be able to do any of this work.
On Saturday, February 8th, POHK sponsored a community-wide event combining a soccer tournament with soap demonstrations and a hand-washing station. Here are some highlights…