Nairobi We hit the jitney early and made it a long day in the villages where we had been organizing. There were bases that needed to be touched with the Chief (a government appointee), the assistant chief, the ward manager for the City of Nairobi, and the Chair of the Highridge Village and Father John from the Catholic School, but more importantly the officer’s committees from both groups wanted to tour their villages with us, outline the issues, and then meet to air out and tighten down last minute details before the “launch” of ACORN Kenya.
Although I had been in Korogocho before, this was an opportunity to get better grounded in the two villages where we were organizing, so I trudged along happily across the environmental catastrope our members call home, which included open sewer flowing through the alleys, mud-packed houses dark and falling apart, open garbage pits that served as hog wallows, no potable water, selling coals for burning, and so on. Several visits were with adults and children painfully, and often inexplicably, ill and desperate for attention in an area promised a hospital never built.
Nairobi For hours in the morning, Sammy Ndirangu and David Musungu, ACORN Kenya’s organizers in Nairobi working in two villages in the Korogocho slum discussed their work and the issues that members were identifying around health care, education, and housing. In the afternoon we were joined by the chair of one of the groups, the secretaries of both groups, and another leader to talk more about the areas before we spend the day there tomorrow. The issues were fascinating because, as always, there seemed to be a different twist and flavor to all of them that intrigued and challenged the campaign planning.
In the whole of Korogocho of 350,000+ people there are no public health or hospital facilities. There are a couple of private, small clinics, but that’s it. In our conversation though a public hospital had been approved by the national government and funded over the last 5 years with regular renewals. The land supposedly has even been built. Where then is the hospital? Somehow this was a campaign that was starting after what normally would have seemed the hardest fights: winning authorization and winning resources. Here we were stuck in endless conversations, when what the campaign clearly lacked was a little final research and some huge actions holding politicians and others accountable. Why was this so hard?