Reflection from Kenya

Sep 15, 2023

When we contemplate global aid, our thoughts often gravitate towards places like Africa, envisioning the charitable organizations that funnel portions of our contributions into sending essentials like shoes, meal kits, and water to distant communities in need. However, the Braided Cord Foundation’s recent exploration in Nairobi, Kenya unveiled a reality far richer than mere need.

While statistics remind us that two-thirds of the world’s population, predominantly in sub-Saharan Africa, grapples with extreme poverty, our visit revealed a more intricate narrative. Nairobi, home to millions in informal settlements known as slums, reveals the visible effects of poverty on families including struggling single mothers, restricted access to education and healthcare, and those afflicted by addiction that often begins as a way to self-medicate from trauma. And still, Nairobi’s story isn’t confined to these challenges.

In the midst of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, a different narrative is emerging – one that champions breaking cycles of poverty. Organizations like Bawa Hope and The Rose Women’s Foundation exude a profound belief in the work ethic and determination of their people. These groups provide tools, resources, coaching, and support, extending a helping hand to the working poor driven by a desire to provide for their families.

Our encounters in the local marketplace painted a vivid picture of transformation. In just six months, a woman more than doubled her sales and income through entrepreneurial coaching, igniting not only her own aspirations but also inspiring others in her community to follow suit. Young individuals, employed from within the slums, received training in creating artisan crafts alongside mentorship and business exposure. These organizations ensure fair wages, respectful working conditions, and an environment that encourages savings and business launches. Amid these positive shifts, challenges remained evident. Short-term aid was noted to inadvertently impede entrepreneurial mindset growth, limiting local business owners’ opportunities to contribute.

The unique proximity of these communities to Nairobi’s booming economy has created a ripple effect of change that cascades across neighboring territories, significantly impacting Eastern Africa including the Democratic Republic of Congo where our foundation is working with a like-minded partner. The Braided Cord Foundation is determined to facilitate sustainable transformation through empowering people to lead the change.

Our journey is to nurture pride, work towards lasting change, and establish a legacy of community-driven development. It is a joy and privilege to dream about how we can play a part in supporting this narrative of hope and transformation.