Queen Sofia of Spain
visited the Mathare
Slums in Kenya on April 2010 in an effort to draw attention to the situation at hand. She takes special interest in Care of Handicapped Persons, child prostitution, slavery and programs against drug addiction and does not hesitate to travel extensively.
slums are one of the largest slums in Kenya and are home to around 700 000 residents, stretching over an area of three square miles. The Mathare
slums are sadly also a place where the younger generation play on streets that are routinely exposed to drugs, pornography, violence and alcohol. This is home to gangs, prostitutes and thieves. Where surviving daily is a constant struggle and clean drinking water is rare, here AIDS and HIV have reached epic proportions.
Many of the residents of Mathare
came to the slums after selling their farms to travel to a city promising well-paid jobs. These jobs were none existent. Money ran out for the migrants and they ended up living in shacks in the slums, many have been in the slums for decades, lacking the money to make the journey hundreds of miles back home.
Life in the slums is horrendous, residents survive without electricity, running water and there are no sewers. Gangs have tapped into the water main of the city and sell water by the jug. In 2006 and 2007 rival gangs caused a great deal of damage and destruction. Unemployment is high and those who are lucky enough to find day labour work for a pittance. The smell drifting around the shantytown of the slums is sickening and quite obviously human sewage. A lack of plumbing and sewers means the resident deposit their waste in plastic bags, which are then left lying in ditches or tossed into the Nairobi River, running through the middle of the slums. The droppings from chickens, cows and goats mingle with the smell of human waste along with wood charcoal that is burnt. This is the only way to cook in the slums and at least there is consolation in that it disguises other smells.
While the above paints a picture of oppression, dread, fear and hopelessness there is hope by way of the staff and children of Mathare Community Outreach
. Set up in 1994 the project was founded by Pastor Daniel Ogutu
in order to improve the quality of life of the children and their families in the Mathare Valley slum.