KENYA: Salesian Missionaries Respond to Need of Families Affected by Devastating Fire in Kuwinda
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries in the Kuwinda district of Kenya’s capital city of Nairobi are responding to a fire that has decimated the area and destroyed the Salesian Divine Mercy Church. The fire happened on March 29 and reduced the area to ashes. The problem is not only the physical destruction suffered but also the number of children and families in need of shelter and assistance.
Hundreds of people have lost everything, and there is one reported death of a woman with disabilities who couldn’t be rescued. First investigations indicate that the probable cause of the huge fire was a candle left burning. The fire quickly spread among the humble wooden houses fed by the gas cylinders that many families kept in their homes, causing enormous damage and making it impossible to put out the fire.
The Divine Mercy Church lost everything and was burned from the first stone to the aluminum foils in the roof. In addition, primary school children who come from the slums could not return to school because their school uniforms and all the books were lost. As with many emergency situations around the globe, Salesian missionaries begun acting immediately to address the needs of families and children affected.
“During the night, it was impossible to do anything to put out the fire,” report Salesian missionaries on the ground in Kuwinda. “The next morning the whole neighborhood tried to give an immediate response, especially for the children. And the gestures of solidarity and aid came quickly. The Salesian Missions office in Madrid has also already promised to ensure that Salesian missionaries are able to respond as soon as possible to the difficulties of thousands of people affected by the fire.”
For more than 30 years Salesian missionaries have been offering vocational training and social development programs for youth in Nairobi, Kenya. The Salesian-run Bosco Boys program provides education and technical skills training to former street children in Nairobi and is currently serving more than 600 boys and girls in primary and secondary schools and universities. The program also operates two nursery schools in the slums of Kariua and Kuwinda.
Despite the steady growth of Kenya’s economy, according to UNICEF, more than half of the country’s population lives below the poverty line on less than $1 a day. UNICEF also notes that Nairobi is home to 3 million residents, most of whom endure lives of extreme poverty in the city’s slums. The most vulnerable are families and children living in these urban slums and in areas of the country most affected by HIV/AIDS. Many do not have access to health care, nutrition, sanitation or education.
Youth living in Nairobi’s slums are at risk for exploitation, forced labor and other abuses. Few attend the later stages of school as compared to those living in Kenya’s more rural areas. The few schools serving this disadvantaged community are beyond the financial means of most families. UNICEF notes that while Kenya has free and compulsory education, youth in poverty still cannot afford to attend school resulting in close to 90 percent of children from poor households failing to complete their basic education.
UNICEF – Kenya Statistics