This belongs to Mathare!

Mike: “Karibu Huruma. You want some tea?” Me: “Is it safe here?” Mike: “Don’t worry, you’re very safe here!”


In order to encourage participation of as many residents of Mathare as possible, we’re continuing with a rotating venues approach. We are trying to get different groups to host us so we can be closer to the communities, where the participants then explain in detail to all interested parties, from elders to children to grandmothers, what they’re doing, why we’re there and why there are some people walking around with strange telephones (GPS units). We also want to enable our participants to walk to the trainings and not spend their money on public transportation.

Working from different parts of Mathare has another importance: on-site discussion around the biggest needs of the particular community leads to on-site recognition of the particular problem. This then leads to determining what exactly they want on the map, what they would need the map for, and therefore what the focus should be. All this information will be crucial in making good thematic maps which will show the biggest and most immediate needs of the particular area.

Trainings in Huruma

Resident: “People rarely come to these areas; we don’t get any attention like Kibera does; NGOs don’t come here and don’t care about this place; Mathare is very poor; there is almost no development. We say United Nations is for the people who work there, not for us. Aren’t you afraid?” Me: “Should I be?” Resident: “Not if you’re with this crew. That’s very good what you’re doing!”

I still feel afraid every time I step out of the cab with 4 computers and 10 GPS units that someone will knock me over the head with a rock. However, they never let me out of their sight. Even when I go to the toilet someone is standing in front of the door. I feel they are keeping a close eye on us and the programs. They’ve had too many disappointments with projects that failed or didn’t live up to their expectations. We understand these issues and are working hard in Kibera to recognize our mistakes and make sure that we live up to the expectations of our team there (more on this coming soon).

So Jamie and I, with advice from Sammy from Plan Kenya and Simon from Ngoza Njia – Community Development Center, approached Mathare by taking a massive amount of responsibility from our shoulders and handing over most of the decision making to Mathare residents. It’s them who decide what they want on the map, for what purpose they want to use the map, what they want to document with video, where the next venue should be, who to invite to public discussions, how to engage other people to participate, how to make these tools useful to as many as possible etc. From the start we presented our programs as Mathare’s own programs, something no one can dictate or tell them what to do with it. We can already see it and they’re taking ownership. The conversation is often like this, resident: “So you’re going to map all the CBOs in the community?” Me: “I don’t know, you tell me!”


Last week (24. Jan Р30. Jan) we worked in 3 locations in Mathare. The mappers were focusing on the eastern part of Mathare РHuruma, Kiamaiko, New Mathare and Mathare Nort. We were hosted by  Ngoza Njia РCommunity Development Center situated between Huruma B and Kiamaiko. From there the teams spread out and mapped the hell out of Huruma. We collected approximately 200 points in two hours of field work.

On Thursday we were hosted by Vision Youth Group in Huruma – Ngei1 area, where we edited the data collected on the previous day.

Vision Youth Group

On Friday we digitized over satellite imagery as a part of learning different techniques in mapping. We were hosted by Community Transformers in Mathare No10. I’m particulerly proud of Huruma girls (and one man) who digitized a big chunk of Huruma (Kaimaiko area) and were listening to every advice with their full attention.

Huruma Girls (and a man)

Video had some technical problems when trying to edit videos in Mathare No1o at Community Transformers on Wednesday and Thursday. But with the passion and help from a videographer Nathaniel Canuel they will make it next week.

And there is exiting news for the Voice of Mathare: We’re getting there!

I should finish by saying: “No I’m not afraid. As long as Mathare folks know that this is their program nothing will happen to me when I’m roaming through the streets with all that equipment” But just in case, they are watching closely, I can feel it!

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