Miale ya Tumaini Launches Project Ben Satellite Feeding Location Opens in Gataka Slum
It has only been a handful of years since Diana Wambui, executive director at Miale ya Tumaini (MyT), first opened the center’s gates to feed the hungry children of the Kware slums outside of Nairobi. In partnership with Kenya Works, she has gone from feeding 60 to more than 500 every day and has expanded to also provide home visits, counseling services and emergency shelter—housing up to 50 endangered children on any given night.
Wambui and her staff have accomplished an amazing amount using their budget for maximum impact. With already-stretched resources, she wasn’t planning to open a satellite location.
But that all changed when she accepted the case of a young street boy called Ben who was placed in her care last year. The team worked with him over several months to unravel his story, and a saga that seemingly began in western Kenya led them to a heightened understanding of serious need right down the road.
Nairobi is one of the most developed cities on the African continent. In stark contrast, the informal slum settlements that surround the city house a staggering 60 percent of the population on only six percent of the city’s footprint. Many of the 2.5 million impoverished residents live in single-room, corrugated lean-tos without clean water, flushing toilets or electricity.
Kenya’s laws guarantee education and a safety net for all, but what the laws offer in words, the government cannot yet provide. So, the safety net for children of the settlements is more of a patch-worked, vastly overstretched tapestry woven out of the sheer willpower of people like Wambui.
“When you refuse to look away, and instead look toward hungry children, you see the future and know the time to shape it—the time to act—is now,” she says.
Much as she did when she first opened MyT in Kware, she looked toward the hungry children--her neighbors in Gataka--and with funding from Kenya Works opened gates to food and future for another community. For $25 per month, Wambui rented a gated lot with a small corrugated-tin storage shed painted in the signature red and blue of MyT and in January launched the satellite feeding center they call Project Ben in honor of the boy who inspired her to take the step.
Now, each day after lunch is completed at MyT, the team heads to Gataka. Food prepared at the main center, along with water jugs and colorful plastic bowls bounce in the back of Wambui’s blue pickup truck
as she navigates the rutted 4km route between the two locations. More than 200 children are lined up at the locked gate eagerly awaiting their arrival. Wambui, who holds a master’s degree
in counseling, knows education is the path out of the slums. School attendance is a requirement to
participate in the feeding centers. After signing in, the children go to the newly installed water tank to wash hands. Cholera is problematic in the settlements so the kids are instructed on washing thoroughly before meals.
Next, they lineup to receive their bowl of githeri, a balanced, high-protein meal that is nutritious, cost-effective and easily scaled for the sizable crowd. The kids find a seat on a bench or on the sun-baked ground. Though they’ve been asked to bring spoons, most do not have one and instead skillfully lift the stew to their hungry, smiling mouths.
Wambui observes that at least 60 percent of households are surviving on a single meal a day within these communities.