Mukuru kwa Reuben area has more than 18 schools but only two of them have almost adequately equipped libraries, Claris Nadini tells us when we visited Mukuru Library last week. This is the reality of the experience of the young people living in the community.
It is for this reason that Claris founded Badili Zone Organization two years ago which aims to ensure that all students from the slums have access to quality education and opportunities. And a year later, she requested for a building from Hope Worldwide Kenya for library use.
The library has grown to become an inviting place for young people with school girls being a good number of those using it. Claris, also an acting librarian, has been teaching seven girls in grade 7 and 8 during this pandemic. This is a huge positive thing especially when unfortunate reports keep coming out of teenage pregnancies. Currently, more than 4,000 school girls have been impregnated in Kenya since schools closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Most young girls are occupied with housework now that they are staying at home as well. According to a 2016 report by UNICEF, girls spend 160 million more hours than boys doing household chores everyday. This limits their time to focus on their learning. The library gives these young girls in Mukuru a place to pay more atention on reading and studying.
Mukuru Library located off Mombasa road in Nairobi is a needed facility to the children. Some homes lack space to support learning while several schools use one book for an entire class.
Claris and Boniface Mutunga last week who took us through the library project. The library is divided into three sections. The first two sections have bookshelves and desks. The last section is an open room intended for teacher-student learning.
The library was built on a swamp. It floods whenever it rains. You could tell the stories of some of the tattered books standing on the shelves. It had rained, the rooms were flooded, the books soaked and dried. The rains interferes with the children’s learning too.
As part of their work, late last year, Badili Zone officially launched it where the students access learning materials, get mentored, access sanitary pads, and take part in activities that facilitate their personal growth and development.
The library needs electricity connection, school curriculum books, story books, furniture, computers, and floor renovation.
While she is aware that how they are going to sustain the space is a concern, Claris, who grew up in Mukuru and understands the struggles of the community, cannot imagine asking the children to pay to access reading materials. That is out of the question. They rely on volunteers, and have been supported by Jomo Kenyatta Foundation, General Motors, and Hope Worldwide Kenya.
Badilisha Zone is run by eight young members, six of whom are university students. Their renovation budget is KSh300,000. Here is the link to the M-Changa account here is the link to the M-changa https://changa.page.link/SU6vw
“If a person or an organization is willing to donate materials such as books and furniture, that would also be helpful. The ultimate goal is to provide a place for the children to read,” said Claris.