Late January MYC4 signed the contract with its newest partner, Makao Mashinani, a pioneer in low cost housing in Kenya.
Makao Mashinani has a clear vision: “a society where all poor people have acces to decent shelter”. As Aleke Dondo, the companys MD put it: It’s a human right.
It doesn’t take long to realize that there is a long road ahead. Salome Wanjiku took a group of conference participants to see the Eastern region project, where Makao Mashinani is involved in getting people out of the shanty towns and into real houses.
It was definitely an eye opener to all of us to see the appalling conditions these people live under. We met Simon, who showed us his shed. 13 by 13 feet, made of steel plates, no power, no water, no toilet. It was 30 degrees inside. Here he lived with his wife and three children, separated from the narrow alley only by a curtain. A visit to the community toilet cost 3 Shillings. Decent? Every day he has to come up with almost two Euros for school and rent. When it comes to work he gets the odd day contracts, so times are hard, and as Simon said: – Sometimes we just have to eat less. Simon and his family are on their way to leave the shed. How does he manage that, you might ask. Well, his rent today is Kshs 2000 a month, an amount which would allow him to become a home owner under the Makao Mashinani scheme.
Hence it was encouraging to make another visit just around the corner. There we met Susan Wanjiru, who has moved from the slum to a new house with three floors. 86 such houses has already been built.
Every day Susan Wanjiru pays back Kshs 35 on the loan she has gotten from Makao Mashinani. If she fails to pay for a week a padlock will be put on her door. It has never happened though, neither to her nor the others in the community. And community is everything, because this could never have happened if the home owners to be didn’t cooperate, establish groups, commit each other and help each other financially.
Susan has a small shop in the street selling sweets, toilet paper and shoes, but it is enough to have moved her from the worst slum to a decent shelter.