Almost all the children on the Mwakirunge garbage dump live with their mother. They are stigmatised for living in filth, and because their mothers are unable to afford school fees, uniforms and books, the children are trapped into a cycle of poverty and inequality. They spend their days scavenging through garbage alongside their parent.
The Joseph Centre opened in November 2017, its aim to enable mothers to learn skills, enable them to acquire medical care and advice, improve their parenting skills, and increase their ability to make the right choices to benefit their families. Many of the mothers who attend the centre are unable to read or write so literacy and numeracy are taught. We know for women to run sustainable income generating activities, it is vital they are equipped with education and basic entrepreneurial skills.
At the Joseph Centre, mothers are being taught tailoring skills, making clothes and school uniforms for their children. They also make bags, cushion covers and throws for which they receive an income. Mothers receive food, and are able to shower and bathe their babies and small children. And they are able to obtain fresh, clean water which they use within their homes.
Many of the mothers attending the centre were living in the ‘polythene houses’ on the garbage dump and have now been given clean rooms in which to live safely with their children, able to sleep on mattresses provided by Gap Kenya.
The children all attend the local primary school, their fees, uniforms and books paid for by the charity. Pre-school children are taught in the centre nursery class, and babies are cared for in the creche. The children have access to toys, books and games to encourage healthy brain development, imagination, creativity and dexterity.
The centre can currently accommodate 12 mothers although it is envisaged a larger centre will be found in the near future so more mothers and children can be helped.
Witchcraft is still very prevalent in Mwakirunge and many of the mothers use witchdoctors for themselves and their children.
On 2nd October 2022 in partnership with Crossroads Fellowship Ministries Nyali, a church was begun at the centre on Sunday afternoons for those living on the garbage dump and in the local community and villages. This provides an alternative message of love and hope and enables God’s light to shine in a very dark place.
Pastor Duncan who runs the church also attends the centre weekly to provide a bible study and prayer for the mums in the centre.