Rescued from the Kawangware slums in Kenya, she knows how it feels to be the victim of poverty and neglect. Together with her childhood friends, she founded a community organisation to help children and young mothers in vulnerable situations.
A mother of two, she is a mother to many.
Working from home to keep her family safe from COVID? Not an option. Even if she is asthmatic and high risk.
“If I start worrying about myself,
what about the hundreds of people who are out there?”
She arranged for teenage mothers – girls without income – to man handwashing stations. Talking to people, spreading information, empowering the community to change.
By offering hygiene kits to girls, she created a bond. A way to maintain contact and keep an eye on them.
“The idea was not just to issue sanitary or hygiene kits. It was more of a mentorship programme to be able to journey with the girls.”
The programme she set up provided them with emotional support and boosted their resilience.
But she wanted to do more.
Radio and television, or electricity for that matter, are difficult to come by in crowded slums where people have little to nothing. How do you reach communities without technology? She knew the answer: by putting up murals on public walls.
It proved a great way to share information. The conversation turned to COVID and measures to counter the disease. The community became an agent of change, healing from within.
Her philosophy? The way she says it makes it sound so simple: always make things better. Always ask yourself how we can leave this place better than we found it.
works with vulnerable groups in the Kawangware slums in Nairobi, Kenya. A former slum dweller herself, she faces the endless hardship all around her with courage and determination: a source of change in whatever she does.
In the slums, there is no electricity, television or radio, which made spreading information on ways to prevent COVID extremely difficult. Martha and her team drew wall murals in strategic places across Kawangware to get the message out. They created 16 murals in 2020 and a further 14 murals in 2021.
Kawangware is a large slum in Nairobi city, second only to Kibera. The population within the Kawangware slum area is approximately 212,825. Kawangware also serves as the biggest open market in Nairobi West.
fewer teenage pregnancies
Early marriages and teen pregnancy are a constant challenge in the slums. Through their mentorship programme, Martha and her team managed to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies in their community from 16 in 2020 to just two in 2021.