Destitute children in a Nakuru Dumpsite Wait for Any Miracle
Children at the Nakuru Dumpsite scramble for "a fresh kill" with pigs that coexist together at the dumpsite after a municipal council truck off loads trash. The children are currently threatened with eviction from the dumpsite that they consider as a primary source of livelihood. Pic by John Ndeta, Ajabu Media
By John Harry Ndeta and Harrison Maina: Ajabu Africa News, reporting from NAKURU Kenya and BOSTON, Massachusetts; posted May 22, 2011
Families of over 3 generations living on the Nakuru Dump site have been given an eviction order to move out as soon as possible. The plight of the over 600 people is in disarray with the pathetic conditions under which they live after having been rejected by their families and the society at large.
The dumpsite has been on the current site known as Gioto next to London Estate for over a decade, having moved from Kivumbini Estate in Nakuru.
During this time; men, women, youth and children from various parts of Nakuru rejected by the fast moving life of Rift Valley’s first Urban Centre have ended up on the dumpsite making it their lifelong abode.
The lifestyle of families in the dumpsite is full of difficulties and challenges as they have to compete with the scavenging birds, pigs, dogs and other wild animals to secure one of the basic needs of life: food.
The other needs which include shelter and clothing remain a dream for these families as they have to live a debased life. The ram-shackled houses made of trees from shrubs and pieces of cloths, cartons and polythene papers is what many of the families call home.
Lack of water on the entire dumpsite is a major challenge. “There is a water tank which was built by a well wisher but no one pumps water in it and thus it remains unused and unprofitable for us,” laments Mr. Mwangi whose house is next to the stone concrete water tank.
Water shortage is a familiar phenomenon in Nakuru even for those in posh estates. Those who get water, the high level of fluorine presents numerous challenges including the coloring of teeth for Nakuru residents.
The men and Women who moved to the dumpsite said they did so for lack of options. “I was unable to pay rent from 2001 and thus opted to move to the dumpsite,” says Miss Lucy. Most of the young men eat and sleep on the waste without any covering exposing them to danger and all sorts of maladies.
“Once on the dumpsite, the main source of food for my children and myself (sic) is in the decomposing wastes,” says yet another widow whose children have scavenged from the latest arrivals and found decomposing fries from which they are taking their lunch.
Margaret Wanjiru a HIV Positive widow complains of the Municipal eviction order which seeks to compel all the families living on the dumpsite to vacate by March this year.
A family is perched on a mount of waste as they enjoy snacks scavenged from the dumpsite
Reliable information from the Municipality reveals that the next destination from the dumpsite is Pipeline area which is on the Delamare farm and the Municipality is seeking to halt any attempts by the dumpsite residents to relocate with it due to the dangers involved. But most of the families interviewed said that if the dumpsite is moved, they will move with it as it is their main source of life.
Another case recorded was of Elizabeth Wangare 49 with 14 children who moved to one of the rental houses next to the dumpsite. Early last year, Elizabeth lacked rent to pay for her urban house after she separated with her husband. A well wisher then took her to the house where she resides and paid her rent for the entire year.
But in the New Year, she doesn’t know what will become of her as she lost touch with the well-wisher. The sick looking woman told us that she suffers from arthritis and thus cannot make a living of her own. One wonders whether the only job she is able to do is to deliver children each and every year as in her own words, the fist born daughter is 15 years and the last born is barely a year old. Her 14 children are left to fend for themselves from the dumpsite.
On the last day of the year 2010, Ajabu Africa crew in Nairobi set out to gather information on the plight of the over 600 Kenyans whose life depends on the refuse from households, hospitals and market places in Nakuru Municipality.
Out of the 600 Kenyans, about 250 are children aged 1-17 years.
Reaching the dumpsite families
Mrs. Betty Mbatia, a teacher at St John’s Primary School located at Teachers Estate; Nakuru and a minister of the word of God with the Full Gospel Ministries embarked on a mission to reach out to these forgotten families with the word of hope and help.
Betty says her initiative seeks to help three categories of people; orphans to get a home after most of their parents died of HIV Aids; the young mothers to have an income generating project and the old women to get portions of land where they can be resettled.
Mrs. Betty Mbatia (left), a teacher at St John’s Primary School in Nakuru visits two elderly mothers at the dumpsite.
Due to the numerous dangers children are exposed to, girls as young as 10-13 years become mothers and worse still get infected with HIV-Aids from rape and illicit love affairs.
Betty has over the years visited these families, preached to them and prayed with them giving them the much needed hope to live on. For those willing to go through the school, Betty organizes to put them in public schools where some have completed Standard 8 and Form 4.
With the help of well-wishers, Betty has over the years committed herself to providing fresh foodstuffs to the families that depend on junk food over and over again.
Mary Waireri, Betty’s friend and former colleague who moved to the US is one such well-wishers and partner with whom Betty is currently working with to reach these refuse dependant families.
With the help of Mrs. Betty Njoroge Mbatia; Ajabu Africa team came face to face with the scavenging lifestyle of the Gioto families.
After shopping and loading the goods in our crew’s car, we set out to offload them to the Gioto area where the Nakuru Dumpsite is located. This time round it was not like the tracks of Lorries that bring refuse but a small saloon car with fresh cereals, bread, juices and a package for the New Year.
We were received with an assemblage of young men at the entrance to the dumpsite who were waiting for the Lorries to get their lunch.
The dumpsite described by Granny Esther Wairimu as the home of over 3 generations witnesses a minimum number of 30 trucks of lorries depositing wastes on the 8 acre of land daily.
From the wastes, the women carefully pick the paper bags from which they knit beautiful viondos. A skill that each and every woman has been taught but the challenge they face even with this basic skill is the lack of ready market to sell their products. The women and men also collect papers, plastic bags and bottles from recycling.
It is from such menial jobs that families are raised in Nakuru Dumpsite. Take an example of Granny Esther Wairimu (80 years) that takes care of 5 orphans. Originally from Muranga County, Esther says she has been living on Government land even before it was taken over as a dumpsite.
“My six children died of various diseases except one who stays on the dumpsite. Some of the ones who died left behind children and they are the ones I take care of from the dumpsite’ says Granny Esther.
Another menace on the dumpsite is the animals including pigs, dogs, birds and other wild animals. Huge pigs have also made the dumpsite their abode and they multiply daily providing a stiff competition for the leftover foods disposed on the dumpsite.
“For me to survive, I have to scavenge and wrestle birds, pigs and dogs to get something to put in my stomach. That is my life and that of many other women, children and men who live here,” ends Margaret who is the women’s coordinator on the dumpsite.
The plight of the children comes to international light after Mary Wairiri, who lives in Lowell, Ma, went home to visit. Mary, who comes from Nakuru, met Betty Mbatia Njoroge an old colleague and teacher for the Nakuru municipality who has been feeding the children for over decades using her teaching salary.
The two met at a wedding ceremony and as they caught up on years past, Mbatia informed Mary about the children she has been struggling to feed. Mary was touched by the plight and decided to visit the dumpsite to see for herself.
Mary Wairiri, a resident of Lowell, Ma, appears shocked at the spectacle of man and hogs outdoing each other to get the best food from the Nakuru dumpsite
“I could not believe what I saw” Mary said, “Our kids in Kenya are sharing food with pigs and vultures!” Contrary to the US, where people struggle to avoid eating too much, Mary was devastated with the horrible situation.
She immediately decided to do whatever she could to help. Upon her return to the US, Mary teamed up with a few of her friends who have since been sending money to Nakuru to help feed the kids. “But the need far exceeds our means, and on top of everything, we just heard that now they are about to be evicted from the dumpsite”.
Mary and her team are still trying to figure out what they can do to help the children facing eviction. The good news is that Mary has found a donor who had provided a 5 acre piece of land in the outskirts of Nakuru about 3 km from the city center. If funds are available, a shelter could be built for the children. As of right now, they don’t have the funds, they don’t know how to get the funds, but they are hopeful that a Good Samaritan reading their story will offer some help for the children.
In the meantime, the team sends money to the children whenever they can through their coordinator Mrs. Mbatia and hope that the eviction will not take effect immediately giving them time to organize themselves.
To reach the two ladies struggling to help the dumpsite families for more information ot with your help, cdial :
Mary Wairiri : 1-978- 761-2083
Mrs Betty Mbatia :
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