The “Wanawake kwa Wanawake” Community Centre
We started our centre in 3 storage containers, with the aim of providing a safe haven for women from the dangers of slum life. A place where not only could they have the support from others, but learn skills such as dress making and bag making so they could sell their wares to support their families.
The centre grew – both in number and popularity. Then disaster struck; a road was planned to go right through the centre. Relocation in an area such as Kibera is no easy task. The slum presents dangers unlike that of regular city life. Crime, abuse, rapes, prostitution, drugs and violence from members of their own families makes providing a safe place for a community centre a huge challenge.
We had to make do with a tiny room on the ground floor of a noisy and leaky apartment block. A place where the landlord hated the sound of children playing and regularly turned off the water. Even worse, the rooms were so small that some could only accommodate four people at a time. This meant that the members had nowhere in which to display and sell the items they made.
Not exactly what we would consider a suitable location for a Community Centre. But it was all we had.
But thanks to a tremendously generous donation from a Victorian family, a property was purchased in a reasonably safe area, very close to Kibera. The house was very run down and needed to be demolished, but with generous outside assistance and donations, we built a modern community centre in its place that opened in December 2013 – the Wanawake kwa Wanawake Community Centre. “Wanawake kwa Wanawake” is Swahili for “Women for Women”.
Now our centre is a bustling multi-level building with rooms for the administration of our Kenyan activities by our partner charity, Wanawake kwa Wanawake; rooms to house our Chappell Informal School; rooms for dealing with health care issues; rooms for workshops and meetings; rooms for our women’s group to do their sewing and craft activities; and rooms to give our people the room to showcase and sell the products they make.
At last we have a real location that offers safety, security, and most of all – real hope – to the people of Kibera as well as a “safe house” for girls nearby.