Mukuru slum has attracted an influx of people from rural areas in search of opportunities in the city due to its proximity to Nairobi’s Industrial Area. The industries provide casual labourers with daily wages, other people engage in petty trade and hawking, to feed, clothe and entertain the thousands of inhabitants. Poverty is widespread, with a population density of about 50,000 people per square mile, housing is congested. They are mainly from semi-permanent materials, iron sheets, mud, wood and plastic, resulting in poorly ventilated buildings susceptible to destruction by flooding/fires. Six people may be occupying one single room measuring 3 by 4 square meters, a room that performs various functions from cooking to sleeping. The road network is bad; there is no drainage system, no solid waste disposal facilities, and no proper garbage collection equipment. This combinations of factors poses a serious threat to the health and well-being of the population, especially for children, pregnant women and those who are ailing.
When the clinic building was taken down, the Sisters first concern was to maintain the health services they provide in the community. Two containers were immediately stripped of their contents and converted into a makeshift clinic. In December, using iron sheets and wood, a temporary building was erected for the Mother and Child clinic and the two containers were available for other services for the pregnant women of the area. Many are HIV positive and a special programme is run to prevent Mother to Child transmission. There is voluntary HIV testing for pregnant women on their first antenatal visit.
Many families, unfortunately, had their dwellings destroyed at this time and this had led to great unrest in the area, particularly among the youth. There have been episodes of vandalism, protests and further destruction of property by the protesters themselves. The Sisters are now looking at ways to encourage the community leaders to channel some of this energy into more life promoting activities. With civil unrest, many clients are defaulting from attending the clinic and looking after their health needs.
Presently the Sisters are looking for funds to rebuild the clinic, and have the necessary clearance from the local authorities.