Ford Foundation visits SHOFCO, lauds its work
By Anwar Sadat & Kibet Kilel
Across the world, some people find great pleasure in serving and supporting others out of their own kind hearts and passion for humanity. At times, they themselves have experienced the same challenges that people go through and thus volunteer to help them get out of the same situation.
Dr. Kennedy Odede, the Chief Executive Officer and founder of Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO), is one such person. Odede started SHOFCO with passion. With 20 cents and a soccer ball, he created a big movement that turned out to be of great impact on the community. His hallmark work has been recognized across the world leading to the award of the most prestigious prize in the world, Hilton Prize 2018.
SHOFCO’s incredible work attracted recognition and an honor visit in early January by Ford Foundation. The Ford Foundation President, Darren Walker, together with his team visited SHOFCO to see and witness for themselves its various programs.
Led by Darren Walker, the Ford Foundation team was received by Odede and his Co- Founder Jessica Odede who took them through various programs at SHOFCO, Kibera. The visit kicked off at SHOFCO Community Centre which houses both the Computer Lab and a library. Walker and his team were shown how the centre has been beneficial to the Kibera Community.
Jesse Koki, in charge of the Computer classes, explained how community members get to learn basic computer skills at an affordable fee and are issued with certificates at the end of their studies. This he said, improves their knowledge in the technological world and empowers them with skills in the working environment.
The centre also provides space for students to do their personal studies and homework through a Community Library. The Library Coordinator, David Otieno, explained to the team how community members also get a chance to access information on current affairs through the dailies as well as doing some personal studies.
SHOFCO Urban Network (SUN) members were privileged to host Darren Walker and his team. SUN, is a movement which brings together individuals and households through social groups. It seeks to build a strong urban network with the aim of empowering the poor. SUN believes that, when we build strong communities, we empower the whole nation.
SUN Managers Erick Okwama and Godwin Oyindo, took the Ford Foundation team through SUN’s activities as well as its impact in the community. It is through this initiative that many community members have been economically empowered. Darren Walker was happy to witness how SHOFCO has revolutionized the provision of clean affordable water to the community. Ann Lukalo, WASH Manager Kibera, explained to the team how the water treatment plant works.
Here, the water is treated before it is pumped to various water kiosks designated in various places in Kibera slums. Many residents have benefited from this program since they can now access clean affordable water through a Cashless Water System. “What a thrill to visit SHOFCO and see an organization successfully building community power and delivering vital services,” Walker said.
Women from Sustainable Women Empowerment Program (SWEP) showcased their wares to the Ford Foundation team. This program creates employment and entrepreneurship opportunities to vulnerable women in urban slums. It aims to empower them with skills and opportunities so that they can be able to sustain themselves and their families. Rose Adera, the Transformation Manager, was glad to explain to the team how the program has helped many women in empowering them economically.
Odede together with Jessica Odede introduced the Kibera School for Girls (KSG) explaining how the school has registered a remarkable success since its establishment. KSG is meant to empower a girl child through education. Since its establishment in 2009, the school has become a true model of learning topping other schools in the area.
In last year’s Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination results, the school performed exceptionally well producing the top student with 431 marks. The KSG Director of Education, Mr Heki, took Darren Walker and his team for a tour of the school where the team interacted freely with the girls during their classes. The foundation also visited the SHOFCO Clinic where the Deputy Health Manager, Irene Ayoti, guided them on how the clinic provides residents with quality healthcare services.
The team also had an opportunity to interact with members of the Gender Department where they were shown how the office tracks Gender-Based Violence (GBV) abuses and the measures taken to curb and mitigate them. Odede thanked Darren Walker and his team for their visit lauding their recognition and support for SHOFCO.
“Thank you Darren Walker for visiting us at SHOFCO Kibera. Your community organizing came out clearly. We were humbled to have you,” said Odede. Ford Foundation is an American private foundation created in 1936 with a mission of advancing human welfare. It is now a centre for social justice and supports various humanitarian programs across the world.