Hope for youth living in one of the Nairobi’s worst slum areas.
A short distance from Nairobi’s bustling urban center lies the Mathare Valley, one of the oldest and worst slum areas in the Kenyan capital.
Levels of poverty here are extreme. A family of 8 typically lives in a 6-by-8 foot space with no electricity, running water or sanitation system. Criminal activity runs rampant and Nairobi police rarely venture into the area. Yet despite circumstances, many living in the Mathare Valley strive to create change in their lives. Among them is Emmeldah Millicent Amolloh.
As a young woman of 23, Emmeldah recognizes the dangers of living in one of the worst slums in Africa. “The place is full of illegal activities like the selling of illegal drugs and the brewing of changaa (local moonshine notorious for being mixed with toxic substances like jet fuel and embalming fluid). Stabbing passers-by, burning houses, and robbery with violence is common here,” she relates. With few opportunities for employment and
limited family income (only her father has a job as a casual machinist), a better life seemed far for Emmeldah’s reach.
That changed two years ago when a village elder told Emmeldah about DDD. Having learned about the opportunity just a day before the deadline, she spared no time filing her application for training. Not long after, Emmeldah received word that she was selected for a one-month course to develop her computer and English language skills. On April 1, 2011, Emmeldah began work at DDD as a data management operator performing data entry and records management tasks.
The first few weeks at work were a challenge for Emmeldah. She lives in the Bondeni area in Mathare, about 10km (6 miles) from the DDD Nairobi office. She recalls, “I felt so happy since I finally had a job. But it was hard because I had to walk to and from work because I had no money for bus fare. I told myself things will work out; I knew at the end of the month I would have something in my pocket.” Sure enough, Emmeldah did earn enough money to pay for her daily commute. More important, she was able to provide for her family’s needs and support her two younger brothers’ schooling. Emmeldah, too, is furthering her education. Supported in part by a DDD scholarship, she is in her second year of pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Accounting at Kenyatta University, one of the top 3 universities in the country.
Emmeldah credits her work at DDD for helping her build confidence. “Here I feel safe and I have learned not be afraid to express and share my ideas with others.” Looking ahead, Emmeldah envisions a career in the development sector, and she aspires to become a senior accountant in one of the biggest non-governmental organizations in Kenya. Emmeldah shares, “Working at DDD has really changed my life socially, economically, and even spiritually. It has raised me from being dependent to becoming a provider. It has taught me to think independently and become a strong person.”