When I visited the Dandora Community Center in 2016, I noticed that even though school let out at 4 p.m., the students, all dressed in matching blue and white school uniforms, stay on the school’s grounds until long after 6.
Children milled about the property, playing games, until finally, the school’s principal, James, announced that it was getting dark, and it was time for everyone to go home. Home would be the Dandora slum neighborhood of Nairobi, Kenya— one of the largest slums in the city located directly across the street.
A place for kids who have nowhere to go
About 400 children attend school at the Dandora Community Center. The school ranges from primary to high school and is not free for children to attend. The cost of education is high in Kenya, and even higher if children need boarding because they have no home. Forty-five children board here, all orphans with no family at all, making them among the most vulnerable.
After walking through the Dandora Slum, surrounded by school administrators, included James and his assistant Janet, and 5 or 6 children from the school whose homes we were going to visit, I was no longer surprised that the children didn’t want to go home after school. With each narrow alleyway we turned down, spaces grew smaller both on the sides and above us. Wood and tin shacks divided into dozens of homes with too many occupants were on all sides of us. It was not only confusing but also suffocating.
I now understood why staying at the Dandora Community Center for as long as possible was the best option for these kids. At school, your friends are there to make you laugh, and your teachers motivate you. It’s a safe place to escape the crushing weight and real physical danger of the slums.
Healthcare for everyone
I was visiting the Dandora Community Center with the organization Children Incorporated to check out recent renovations to the clinic that Children Incorporated funded back early in the year. The renovations were incredibly important to this community because the children have nowhere else to go for treatment of colds, stomach issues, or wounds. Left untreated, common illnesses could cause major problems or even death. In the slums, there are no other options for treatment — the few clinics like this one are the only way anyone will ever get medical help.
And it’s not just minor ailments and injuries — Kenyans have to worry about diseases like dengue and malaria that most Westerners never have to think about at home. Simple items like mosquito nets can protect children and ensure they are healthy enough to go to school — if they can afford it. Mosquito Nets are hard to come by in the slum. Each year, Children Incorporated sends funds to Dandora to provide mosquito nets. The mosquito nets have a significant impact at a minor cost; each net costs less than $10.
As I entered the clinic, I was so impressed with how beautiful the building was. It looks almost new with a fresh coat of paint and new tiles on the floors. If funding continues, the renovations at Dandora will allow James and his team to double the number of patients the clinic can see in the years to come.
Throughout the day, I spoke with James about the challenges he faces. James explains to us that his biggest obstacle is the workload – keeping up the finances and raising more funds at the same time is a major undertaking. I am not surprised to hear this – James and the staff at Dandora work tirelessly to grow their programs– especially those services provided at the clinic.
How can you support the Dandora Community Center?
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