Daycare beams hope for Mukuru Slums dwellers

You will not imagine how impactful and convenient something as small as a daycare within a slum is. Meet today’s 3 super women: Stella Ndinda, Stella Kanini and Caro Auma. Their day, like most casual workers in Kenya, starts as early as 4:30 in the morning. By 6:30 they are at their proud jobs in Ruben Centre’s daycare unit. By this time parents of babies ranging from 6 months to 3 year olds are already at the institution armed with their Ksh. 30 as service charges. The trio goes on to receive babies until about 8:00 AM.

Most of these parents work in factories around the area, among other casual jobs. The bundles of joy are then given a basking break at around 9:00 AM. About an hour later the babies’ diapers, that the parents provide, are changed after which they go out for Physical Exercise (P.E). The young ones play for another hour or so till they come back for porridge. This feeding activity is carried out in phases for the younger ones first, as the older ones wait for their food to get warm.

Since they are babies, a heavy meal attracts sleep. Therefore the babies nap from 2:00PM to 4:00PM. Again their caretakers change their diapers and feed them porridge. By then the parents start docking in to collect their little loves. This picking up process can go up to 8:00PM but the parents are very cooperative. The challenges faced are immense as the numbers can go up to 50 children a day! Remember that the number of daycare workers has been 3 since 2015 when it was founded. Although Stella K, Stella N and Caro are very motherly and clean as they use latex gloves to handle diaper change.

The children at the daycare have an added advantage as they get to go to the library for storytelling sessions. This exposes the young ones to a world of education at a very ripe age. Not only do they get to interact with education earlier, but the children also enjoy an hour or so at the urban farm. Here they get to see farm animals such as rabbits, hens, ducks and different types of fish among other animals. Nationwide, it is accepted that agriculture is the backbone of the economy. Exposing these children to the modern farming techniques enables them to grow with the knowledge at their fingertips. This creates an avenue of many opportunities, both for the Mukuru community and individuals.

The cherry to the ice cream is that parents get educated on their children’s nutrition. Malnutrition is a big concern within a slum setup but thank God for the medical center at Ruben Centre with professional pediatricians. The pediatricians give advice and necessary guides to daycare parents on what is healthy for their children, emphasizing on a balanced diet. Apart from healthy growth of their children the parents get to learn about the milestones that a child makes as they grow. The stages of child development and growth are mandatory for the parent(s) to understand to avoid misinforming and misunderstanding.

These stages of child development can be broken down into 5 categories that are reckoned by our pediatric nurse:

       I.            0 – 12 months (baby)

·         Here, the baby can call the mother and father using the terms appropriately

·         First tooth can appear

·         Walks while holding on to furniture/ other support

    II.            1 – 3 years (toddler)

·         The toddler masters walking

·         Able to say first and last name

·         Imitates speech of other

·         Learns to share/ take turns while playing

 III.            3 – 6 years (preschooler)

·         Starts school

·         Understands time concept

·         Enjoys rhymes and word play

 IV.            6 – 12 years (school-age child)

·         Menarche (first menstrual period) may occur for girls

·         Peer recognition begins to become important

·         Begins to lose ‘baby’ teeth and get permanent teeth

·         Begins gaining skills for team sports

    V.            12 – 18 years (adolescent)

·         Understand abstract concepts

·         Adult height, weight, sexual maturity



Ruben Centre