Tag Archives: Kibera

Why We Do What We Do

In her words, this is the reason I do what I do for the POWER OF HOPE KIBERA:

The Reason Why

Kelly Fenson-Hood
Executive Director, Power of Hope Kibera

People often ask me why I do this work. I’m not sure why, but I never give a very straightforward answer. I guess it’s because it’s personal and it makes me feel vulnerable somehow. Well, I’ve been working with Power of Hope Kibera for three years, and I guess it’s time to share.

When I first met Eventa and Emma, they didn’t speak English. They were five years old.
I spoke basically no Swahili.
But somehow I understood Emma ask Eventa if she knew what my name was.
Eventa just shrugged.

That was six years ago.
Now their English is almost perfect.
It’s absolutely amazing.

My first research partner and I sponsor the girls to attend private school in the slum.
These are two girls that got a chance to succeed.
I empowered them to go to school.
And in front of my eyes, I watched them grow up and transform into smart, beautiful, bright girls.
But the thing is that the Power of Soap Project impacted their lives behind the scenes.
This project kept them healthy so they could attend school.

I am proud that I created a program that makes a real difference with big problems.
And to see first hand how it made a difference in the lives of these girls…
Well, there’s the answer.
I do it all for them.
For Emma and Eventa.
And for all the little ones.

 (Please click the link below to watch our video:)
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2014 Lucie Award: Deeper Perspective


Thank you Photoawards.com for the Honorable Mention!

Kibera: A Slice of Heaven…see the highlights here…

Balancing Act


Wire Jump Rope


Third Time’s a Charm

This is my third trip to Kibera, in Nairobi Area, Kenya, to do volunteer work as a photographer with Power of Hope Kibera (POHK.org).  As I’ve said before, there are many non-profits working in the slum here, but this one is unique in a number of ways.  First, it was started by local residents, several of whom remain key players in the organization.  Secondly, POHK merges private sector business approaches (micro-enterprises) with research-based behavior change strategies.  The ultimate goal here is to reduce diarrheal disease in children, which is the major cause of death in children under age 5. We would like to thank Toilet Hackers for funding this project. We would also like to thank Alfalfa’s and individual donors for their generous contributions.


On My Way to Kibera!

I’m getting excited about my upcoming trip to Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya, leaving September 3, 2014, to continue my work with the Power of Hope Kibera (pohk.org).  Stay tuned for more adventures in hygiene and friendship.

Just to remind myself and everyone else what it’s like there, here’s a GoPro Video I shot last February…

http://youtu.be/PsltQeO-O2s (we enter the actual slum at minute 4:15)

The soap sellers' daughters enjoying some traditional chai and chapatis (in Kibera)

The soap sellers’ daughters enjoying some traditional chai and chapatis (in Kibera)

Read more about it on Slate.com…

also, see the entire portfolio on maureenruddyburkhart.com


Kibera Slum: Why am I here?

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.

Following a hand-washing lesson in Kibera

Following a hand-washing lesson in Kibera

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.

POHK team members

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…


Read about it on Slate.com!

Balancing Act

I’m honored that Slate.com’s David Rosenberg handed me his card at the Atlanta Celebrates Photography Portfolio Review last month and asked me to contact him.  I quickly updated my website then shot him an email.  He sent me some really insightful questions regarding my Kibera project, which I proceeded to ponder while flying to a family event. His questions allowed me to clarify many things in my mind about the project I took on last July, in Nairobi, Kenya, with the Power of Hope Kibera.

Read about it here…


Coming November 15…A Slice of Heaven…join us!

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