Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Fire in Kibera

Last week a large fire broke out in Kibera right next to our school. A kerosene lamp fell over in one house, and because of Kibera's incredible density, poor ventilation, and flammable building materials, the fire quickly spread. 18 families lost their homes and all of their worldly possessions in one night. Luckily, no one was hurt in the fire, but the damage was horrific. A whole section of houses that line the path we take everyday to school was suddenly missing, leaving only a large empty field of black ash. Over the course of the week, we've watched as the determined families afflicted have struggled to rebuild their homes and their lives, despite having lost every material possession they own.

Overwhelmed by both the scope of the disaster and the resiliency of the victims, the Kibera School for Girls and SHOFCO decided to help out. George Okewa, our school administrator, and Leah Lucid, our Development Director, spearheaded a 48 hour funding drive. In just two days, we were able to raise over 1,000 dollars in private donations from the United States. With this money we were able to buy mattresses, blankets, cooking/cleaning utensils, and food for all 18 families!

This Monday we had a ceremony in front of the site to distribute the goods to the 18 families. News about the intervention had spread quickly - nearly a hundred people came to support the families and lend a hand. The ceremony was lead by the former counselor Opete, a major community leader, as well as Kennedy and Jessica. As we handed over supplies, Counselor Opete spoke about the power of working together and uniting for a good cause. As he spoke, the semi-permanent structures that serve as homes were already being rebuilt, and with our supplies each family now had a warm place to sleep and enough meals to last them a month.

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