Kipsongo slum dwellers slowly gaining shape through well wishers

Residents of Kipsongo slum face a myriad of problems, and as the sun sets down, most of them hope that the next day would bring something better.

The slum is situated 3km from Kitale town Central Business District next to Kitale Technical Training Institute (KTTI).

For a long time the residents have faced challenges ranging from biting poverty, poor housing, communicable diseases and even jigger infestation.

They have many stories and experiences to share hoping that some ear somewhere will get to listen to their predicament and come to their rescue.

KNA made a tour to the slum to find out how these residents survive despite their numerous challenges.

Joyce Ekirapa, a resident, painfully narrates her story. She is barely 26 years and already mother to eight children.

“I lost my husband in 2010 to lung cancer and since then our life has been a living hell due to poverty”, Mrs. Ekirapa explained adding that having lost their bread winner, they went without food most of the days.

The death of her husband was a big blow to the family after they sold out all their meager resources to cater for his treatment.

“When my husband died, his brothers grabbed all that we called property and claimed not to recognize me as the deceased’ wife, and I was left with nothing to sustain my eight children”, said Mrs. Ekirapa.

To make ends meet, with a few savings, Mrs. Ekirapa started selling charcoal which she imported from Lodwar. The business was short lived for no sooner had she picked up than it collapsed due to financial constraints.

Wiping her tears, she narrates how one morning she woke up and was ready to commit suicide due to her daily predicaments. That was the time one Pastor Enock Wanyonyi came calling.

“I refer to him as a messiah for he helped me find a way out of my problems”, she said.

She told KNA that Pastor Wanyonyi agreed to rescue her children by enrolling them at a children’s home known as Elevation Centre Church Home.

“At the moment I have a reason to smile and thank God because my children are able to get basic needs and education, something I could not give”, she quipped.

According to Pastor Wanyonyi, the children’s home was established early this year by a couple Mr. Ben and Christine Tanguli and so far it has rescued twenty children from the Kipsongo slum.

The Tangulis also have other children homes in Namanjalala, Kaplamai, Luhyia, Moi’s Bridge and Sudan. Through these homes many other less fortunate children have been able to succeed in life through a decent education and employment.

Similarly, Akiriamriam women group has also helped women at the slum to earn a living. The group has inspired many women to start income generating projects like tailoring, sewing ornaments and beadwork.

Akiriamriam has an office at the slum and it is chaired by Mrs. Patricia Ekuam. She informed KNA that she was born in a polygamous family in Lodwar. Their natives, she said did not value women and most of them were married off early. This forced her to flee to Kitale in the late 1990’s and settled at the Kipsongo slums.

The soft spoken woman who is in her mid 30s says that she is married with five children. “My husband is an alcoholic and he gives me nothing but trouble”, she revealed.

Being forced to take care of their children single handedly, Mrs. Ekuam has settled for nothing less than other than success. She said that Akiriamriam women slum group was started in 2002 but began its official operations in 2005.

The group started with 12 members of the Turkana tribe most of whom had ran away from their homes in Lodwar due to poverty and retrogressive traditions. She explains that the members were required to save Sh. 50 daily. The collection was then loaned to the members to be refunded in a week’s time. Since then the group has thrived and their number has increased to 50 members.

“Other than weaving and beadwork, we also sell water to the community around and neighboring villages”, she pointed.

“I have been receiving lots of encouragement from clients and even leaders who have sometimes rewarded our group handsomely”, she explained.

Through the group, the women have been able to take their children to school and been able to fend for their families.

Just like any other organization Akriamriam women has got challenges where by lack of funds has been the major one and most of them are not educated despite the fact that their organization is partially gaining root.

Mrs. Ekuam encourages other women to join the group at no fee, the only requirement is to be loyal and willingness to better their lives. She advised young ladies who are idling out there in search of formal jobs to venture into different fields and utilize the available opportunities regardless of the dominant gender.

She calls upon well wishers and the government to support women groups arguing they are integral part in the society.

By Bethsheba Abuya