Fire has been a constant problem for the people of Mathare. On the Christmas eve 2017, Hospital ward/Kosovo experienced one of the biggest fires in the history of Mathare. Over 500 hundred houses burnt down and over 3000 people were left with absolutely nothing. Luckily, no lives were lost.
After the fire, there was a one week mobilization of resources both in cash and in kind to help the fire victims during these difficult times. Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC) joined local churches and other organizations to do what they could for those affected, while also encouraging others to support the victims though clothing, bedding, food and even cash donations. It was especially saddening that the Country of Nairobi did not do anything for these victims. .
Saturday 29th December 2017 was the day a team came together, coordinated by Jude Muchiri, to visit the fire victims with all the resources they had put together. The day started by sorting and giving out clothes, and over 400 people were able to pick shoes and clothes donated to replace those that burnt in the fire. Then a group of community volunteers prepared food for the fire victims: that is breakfast, lunch and super. Over 200 people were fed at a community social hall which was also being used as a temporary shelter for women and young children who were displaced by the fire.
After this the team catered to special needs groups such as the elderly, disabled and people living with HIV, and gave them each a food package to last them a week.
The last activity of the day was visiting Humble Heart Centre Home that was started by Mr.Naphtali Njoroge and his wife. Mr.Naphtali started this centre after he lost 3 of his children to a fire in 2005, his wife also sustained serious injuries in this fire that killed their children. His centre is home to 30 children who were left homeless after fires. The team left him with a lot of food for the children and put plans in place to visit and support his centre in the days to come.
We have more solidarity activities planned for the fire victims over the next few weeks together with other residents, well wishers and community organizations in Mathare.
From MSJC we send a big thank you to all the people who sent in their contributions, and did all that they could do reach out to the people of Mathare. Please receive our deep and sincere gratitude. We also ask that the government finds a permanent solution to dealing with fires in Mathare. In 2017 alone, we have experienced four fire tragedies! We ask that the county assembly treats this as an epidemic in Mathare and other poor settlements across Nairobi.
Report by Juliet Wanjira
See more pictures from the day below: