THE KITUI NDOGO SLUM, home to an estimated 50,000 residents, many of who survive on less than $1 USD/day, is situated 15-minutes to the east of Nairobi's bustling city center in the gritty Majengo locality. A highly polluted Nairobi river, doubling as waste refuge, flows through this densely populated maze of crudely constructed, dilapidated structures fashioned out of corrugated iron sheets and mud.
The poverty in Kitui is borderline hopeless and the security threats real. Neighboring Eastleigh floats in and out of the UK's no-go zone for foreigners, as kidnappings for ransom can occur, as well as grenade attacks. Kitui is plagued by crime, violence, prostitution, and drug and alcohol abuse given how harsh life is and the extreme level of poverty—and there is little hope of relief in sight.
Less than a handful of NGOs work in the slum due to its hazardous sanitation problems, security issues, and its relatively small size (it competes for attention with Nairobi's infamous Kibera slum where thousands of NGOs operate). It is likewise neglected by the local government administration, which does not have the resources nor willpower to address the numerous, complex challenges facing residents of this community.
In 1998, following a call to be of service to these vulnerable and needy children, Teacher Grace Kavoi decided to move into Kitui with her husband and start a free daycare program for them, which she would end up calling Malezi, meaning "to care for/nurture" in Kiswahili. She voluntarily moved into a slum, when she could have carved out a comfortable middle-class lifestyle.
Teacher Grace, as she is known to her students, started Malezi in her tiny home with just two students teaching basic education. As more students enrolled, she ended up renting a 10'x10' building with no windows and no electricity and started teaching the formal government curriculum. Attracted to her dynamism and because of her growing role in the community as a leader, over the years, Grace would eventually receive more students than the space could accommodate, well over 60.
Malezi began as a school but is growing into a thriving center for community transformation, which is changing lives and gradually — step-by-step — improving conditions in the slum. At the core, Malezi is a platform for inspiring residents of Kitui Ndogo to be the change despite their real and significant poverty issues.
HOW CAN YOU HELP? You will be amazed at how much you can do.
$5 feeds a childlunch for a month.
$25 keeps a child in school for a month.
$50 pays a teachers salary for a month. ($100 p/m for trained teachers).
If you would like to make a yearly contribution, we can assign you with a student or teacher, and you can get feedback on their progress and interact with updates and personal messaging.
This can all be done from where you are reading this. It cannot be easier to help. For those of you who would like to visit us, we are a message away. And we welcome you with open arms.
Malezi thanks you!
For locals wanting to donate through M-Pesa: