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Centre brings women together in African slum to care for AIDS orphans

Page history last edited by Rosemary 12 years, 9 months ago

Centre brings women together in one of Africa's largest slums to care for AIDS orphans

The Mathare Mother’s Development Centre (MMDC) is a network of 30 self-help groups in Mathare—one of the largest slums in Africa—that brings women together for capacity building, to respond to collective issues, and to learn the power of space in governance. This group works within Nairobi’s second largest informal settlement and encompasses various community projects, including home-based care and support groups for people living with HIV/AIDS, a daycare centre, and a knitting project for orphaned girls.

Since the beginning of MMDC in 1996, caregivers like Rose Omia and Lucy Marete have been dedicated to the vision of a better future for themselves and their families. Rose Omia is a trained community health worker working full-time with the Baraka Health Clinic in Mathare. As a leader, she assists with the management and development of MMDC and links grassroots caregivers with the services of the clinic.

Lucy Marete is a full-time caregiver and is the chair of the home-based care committee. She also heads the knitting project, volunteering her knitting machine and her time to provide knitting lessons to a group of girls in the community. This project was implemented by five caregivers in 2003 as a response to the growing number of orphans due to HIV/AIDS. With time, the project expanded to include crochet lessons as well as mentoring and spiritual support from other MMDC members. In learning how to design and make clothing, these young women are gaining marketable skills and business experience that will improve the livelihoods of themselves as well as their families.

As part of GROOTS Kenya (Grassroots Organizations Operation Together in Sisterhood) MMDC shares experiences, challenges, achievements, and knowledge with women across Kenya. A decade after its inception, Mathare Mothers Development Centre continues to be an example of the capacity of grassroots women to do development work with little or no resources from outside sources.

Mathare Mother’s Development Center was honoured as a finalist in the Red Ribbon Awards Contest: Celebrating Community Leadership and Action on AIDS, during the International AIDS conference held in Toronto in August 2006. This inaugural award, presented by UNDP in partnership with UNAIDS, is intended to draw attention to the many contributions communities are making in response to the devastating HIV/AIDS pandemic and “aims to support creative and sustainable ways to provide care, treatment and support to people living with HIV/AIDS.”

More information on the Mathare Mother's Development Center can be obtained from GROOTS Kenya. This story is told in the November 2006 Huairou Update published by the Huairou Commission.


For more stories about children orphaned by HIV/AIDS, see:

African, Canadian grandmothers reach out to help AIDS orphans

Campaign to educate AIDS orphans in Uganda began with one child's courage

Canadians reach out to help the orphans of Lesotho attend school

Coping with the grief and loss of AIDS: memory projects bring hope to Africa

Fishmongering brings self-help to HIV-positive people in Homa Bay

Kenya women's network focuses on local food sources to support people living with AIDS

Successful model sustains AIDS orphans by rebuilding villages sustainably

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