Around the time COVID began, he had to bury his father. Could the cause of his death have been the illness? He will never know.
Being a teacher in one of Nairobi’s slums is a conscious choice. One that he makes every day as he rises at 4.00 am to get to school. He knows that education changes lives, just like it changed his.
“I would love to see the Mathare slums change when we really offer education to the vulnerable.”
Sceptical at first, he started to take the new virus seriously when it was on the news every day. It quickly became clear to him that to curb this disease, people had to wash hands, social distance and wear masks.
He could make a difference by spreading the word, by sharing these simple measures.
Going back to Nairobi after his father’s funeral meant leaving his grieving mother. A difficult decision, but he had to spread the news about the need to close schools. He worried about the children being affected by missing school and prolonged exposure to unsafe home situations.
But there was no other way.
“What I immediately did was share information. I felt so bad, but I would still get to the bottom of it all and share.”
He created a WhatsApp group to send information about safety measures and keep children engaged in learning, turning parents into teachers. By sharing resources, even from a distance, he made everyone pull together.
When schools finally reopened, he knew his hard work had paid off: so many eager faces, running and laughing, happy to be back.
Clean water had always been an issue and he saw to it that his school had handwashing stations installed. Along with hygiene education, seemingly small interventions make all the difference.
is the father of two children and a schoolteacher in the Mathare slum in Nairobi, Kenya. His commitment to being a role model and breaking the cycle of poverty and illiteracy can save lives and change the world. His father would be proud.
Dixon visited schools on his own initiative to talk about lockdowns and hygiene. There are close to 20 schools in the vicinity of the slum with students ranging from three to 17 years of age.
Lockdown affected children in different ways, which meant some could not immediately return to school. Dixon’s school welcomed 92 children back on the first day after lockdown and by week two, three quarters of all students had returned. A phased approach was best in light of COVID.
Dixon sent three to four WhatsApp group messages per week to parents with information on water safety measures. He also encouraged them to help their children with schoolwork and connect with other parents who could not access WhatsApp.