Farming made possible in Urban Slums, limitation of Space Not Withstanding
Innovative Urban Farming Techniques
Cities and towns are experiencing massive population growth and so are urban slums in Nairobi County. Food security is a huge problem in Kenya contributed by an ever-growing human population. Worryingly, food production has constantly failed to keep up with population growth. Growing food in urban areas is a viable option as a response to food insecurity and is popularly known as Urban Agriculture.
We at Ruben Centre have not been left behind thus are actively involved in training the Mukuru Slums community to adopt urban farming as a way of enabling the impoverished slums to readily produce their own food and as a way of easing food shortage in their households. We incorporate different techniques which include animal husbandry, urban gardens, among others. Switch TV visited Ruben Centre small urban farm and here is the interview.
Ruben Centre runs 27 different development programs, spread across 5 primary categories.
The Ruben Centre Health Clinic began in a tin shed in 1992 and was first started by a Japanese NGO – African Education Fund. After the Christian Brothers began administering the Centre, a new clinic was built and it opened in 2003. This new clinic offered much needed improvements and to date the clinic offers a range of services to residents of Mukuru Slums and beyond.
Ruben Centre’s strategic Objective one is To Improve Access to and provide Quality Primary, Secondary and Vocational Education to children in the slums of Mukuru. A.E.F Ruben Primary is a public sponsored school by the Christian Brothers - Australia.The school has a population of over 3,000 children with 58 teachers ;28 government teachers and 30 project teachers.
Social & Economic Empowerment
Aims to provide livelihood opportunities to extremely vulnerable women and Youth in Mukuru Slums. It uses theoretical and hands-on skills training in different handcrafts to ensure professional, innovative, holistic and technical input that enhances their work opportunities and gives greater awareness around business development and management.
Advocacy & Networking
Advocacy and Networking is Ruben Centre’s fourth strategic direction in the five-year 2016-2020 strategic plan for Ruben Centre. This strategic objective is embedded in a wider advocacy and network of the Christian Brother’s strategic objective adopted in 2014 in Nairobi. Therefore Ruben Centre is achieving the objective for the Christian Brother’s, which is stated in their mission.
With a focus in strengthened human, institutional ad infrastructure of Ruben Centre to effectively continue to respond to the needs of Mukuru Community by: Sustaining Capacity building opportunities including recruitment and retention of staff in all departments and sections including proper succession procedures to avoid any gaps left by staff who leave the organisation.
As the only Community Centre, and “one stop shop” in Kwa Ruben our diversity of projects enables choice and change for people who are caught in the "poverty penalty”, and, whose vulnerability is more pronounced because of the lack of government/donor funded investment in this particular slum. In fact, over the past two years, the slums of Mukuru have been highlighted in a number of international studies, and these indicated the negative impacts experienced by this community, because of the minimal attention or support received from the Kenya National and County Governments.
Children access free primary education
A.E.F Ruben Primary School has continued to offer free-quality primary education to children in the Mukuru Slums and beyond. The school is a public-sponsored. Thousands of students have completed their Kenya Certificate of Primary Education at Ruben Centre. The school has 58 teachers: 30 project teachers paid by Christian Brothers and 28 government teachers. 50 children with disability are also accessing free education through the Ruben Centre Special Unit.
years of serving Mukuru Community
Ruben Centre was started in 1986 by a Mercy Sister, Sr. Mary Killeen who saw the need to start a primary school for children in the slums who did not have access to education. She Handed over the Centre to a Japaneese organisation ;African Education Fund (AEF) who started the first clinic in 1993. The Japanese handed over the organisation to Christian Brothers- Australia in 2000 and they are currently offering 29 programs tailored to empower the Mukuru community.
delivered in ten months
Our first class birthing unit is offering dignified, free, 24/7 maternity services to women in Mukuru who would rather have delivered at home by help of unqualified mid-wife while others would end up in illegal pharmacies operated by quacks offering illegal delivery services. We also have a stand-by ambulance to respond to emergencies that may occur during delivery. We have had over 59 cases Referred for specialized care in advanced facilities.
Kurt Fearnley’s Mega Visit to Ruben Centre Coming Soon
It will be a busy week at the Ruben Centre next week. Kurt Fearnley the Australian Para Olympian, and 18 others from Australia will be visiting Nairobi from Sunday February 24th until March 1st, 2019. www.kurtfearnley.com As part of his visit he will be attending many events in particular : On Monday 25th February, 2019 - 10.00am - H.E. Ms Alison Chartres, will open the Kurt Fearnley Special Needs Unit at the Ruben Centre, Mukuru Kwa Reuben. Wednesday 27th February, 2019 - 8.30am to 3.30pm - a Symposium will be held at the Nairobi University, and this will be followed on Thursday 28th February 2019 by an informal Sports and Track Event at the Nairobi University Sports Venue.
Ruben Centre became an operation partner with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 2018. FAO recognized our Urban Farming concept as a cutting edge approach to the issue of Food security in Urban environments. So late in 2018 a second agreement was reached between The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (“FAO”) For provision of “Technical support in establishment of innovative kitchen gardens and community training in Kalobeyei Refugee Settlement and it environs” The Agreement will enter into force upon the date of signature by the Service Provider, by FAO or on 1st October 2018 and will terminate on 31st March 2019
Christmas in Mukuru Slums 2019
Some may have the courage of an explicit faith in the truth of Christmas, while . Today’s newspaper heading captured my eye,’ The Tale of Two Christmases ‘ and it went on to portray the incredible disparity that exits among `Kenyans. While one group, admittedly tiny percentage of the population are busy shopping for gifts, making headlines, planning their annual holiday in `Mombasa or outside the country, buying gifts for themselves and others and of course dashing between one party and the next, the large majority of `Kenyans can at best stop, take a breath, go to church with their families, and just hope that they can feed their families and rest a bit with them. So it begs to ask the question,’ which group is truly celebrating Christmas? ‘
2019 is well and truly with us. The Centre opened up on January 2nd after a ten day break for Christmas and New year. However, the birthing unit remained in service 24/7 throughout and I even did a tour of duty Christmas eve waiting for a baby Jesus look alike. It didn’t happen until later into Christmas day.
Christmas Day may have been quiet but that can’t be said of the birthing unit since it was opened on June 2nd 2018. Well over five hundred mothers have presented themselves with around 470 babies and the difference being referrals of mothers with complications.
The birthing project is a free service for the mothers to be spoilt for a few hours and have a baby with the best of care available. The free service was built on the promise of a NHIF (National Health Insurance Fund) rebate to Ruben for every birth of a mother with her I D.
This ‘Linda Mama” (Care for Mothers) was an initiative of Kenya’s First lady some years back and something provoked by the high rates of neo natal deaths in the Country. As good as the rebate promise was it has taken till yesterday February 8th 2019 for the first installment to be paid. Yes, the US$5,000 payment in the new bank account made for great reading. This represents about one hundred and thirty-five mothers, so we have our hands out still for more. The wait was certainly worth it and now that we are on the books, we are counting on things getting faster.
You can become part of the Ruben Centre by getting involved with us in various ways. Ruben Centre welcomes people to join us by volunteering, donating to support our programs, signing up to become a Ruben Centre Champion or by visiting us to have a first hand experience of the work happening at Ruben Centre.
Be our Champion
We need champions (people, organisations, governments) who will work with us to create future opportunities and further the development opportunities for the Mukuru Community. You can do this by fundraising for our programs, linkages with possible donors and create awareness about our work to friends and social networks.
Volunteer with us
Are you a game changer? Are you looking for a place to volunteer your expertise in a Community Based Organisation in the heart of Mukuru Slums? Ruben Centre is looking for professional volunteers in areas of health, education, community development and areas of Organisational capacity to join us. You will get a fulfilling experience.
Our Programs are donor funded with our major donor being Edmund Rice Foundation Australia. We welcome individuals and organisations to donate towards Ruben Centre’s Different Programs. Your donation goes a long way to put a smile on the faces of the less privileged and the vulnerable people living in the slums of Mukuru.