Nairobi News


Venture to produce free masks for slum dwellers kicks off

Thousands of poor residents in Mukuru slums in Nairobi stand to benefit as the Mukuru Promotion Center (MPC) recently began making face masks set to be distributed in slums in Nairobi.

The centre serves slum dwellers in Lunga Lunga, Mukuru Kaiyaba, Fuata Nyayo, Mariguini, Maasai Village, Mukuru Kwa Njenga, and other adjacent slums.

Sister Mary Killeen, who has been in charge of the centre for over three decades, says there is a need to think of the poor during this period the world is facing challenges due to the spread of the dreaded coronavirus.

“I have worked around the slums for very many years but I have never seen poverty affect the people in Mukuru as it has from last year. And it has gotten worse now due to the curfew meant to reduce the spread of Covid-19. Most of the people in the slums are small scall businessmen and women while others are casual labourers in the nearby companies in Industrial Area,” she said.

“Now they cannot work, others have already lost their jobs as the effect of the measures put down by the government trickles down. It is impossible to social distance in the slums and having them all enclosed in those areas without an income and food is very dangerous. Crime rates and diseases will increase and the government should think about it,” she added.

Some of the face masks produced at the Mukuru Promotion Center (MPC). PHOTO | JEFF KINYANJUI

Mukuru Promotion Centre helps more than 8,000 children and adults every day by providing education, healthcare and social rehabilitation services. For more than 30 years, the centre has been part of the Mukuru community in the informal settlements of Nairobi and Sister Mercy says they had to come in during this pandemic and help.

“We serve more than 6,000 children in our different schools in the slums and our main vocational training centre and they all need the masks as they come from poor backgrounds and a mask is not a priority as their parents are even struggling to provide for them,” she said.

“Our priority, first of all, is to ensure that at least most of these kids, if not all and their parents have facemasks as it is crucial during this period. At the moment we only have two tailors making around 60 facemasks daily but we hope to recall a few more in the coming days to scale up the production.”

“The main challenge has been the materials for making the masks. It is quite expensive and we are currently looking for donors to support the project. If we can get that then we would even produce more and distribute for free in the slums – that is our intention. We have a clinic at our centre at the St Catherine Primary School that serves families in the adjacent slums in South B and we want to make Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) for the staff in there and other clinics in the slums in the near future,” she added.

Mukuru Promotion Centre (MPC) is a church-based charitable organisation domiciled in Nairobi, Kenya. It is situated along Likoni Road off Mombasa road, bordering Mukuru Kayaba slum on the far end. It was founded by Catholic Sisters of Mercy in 1985 to do charity and provide basic services in Mukuru slums.