Changing Lives At Changing Times
Changing Times – Kibera – Kenya
There is not a whole lot of unused space in Kibera. Changing times uses the small space they have about as best they can. This means doubling classrooms in the primary school as lunch rooms and break rooms. The library doubles as a learning space for adult literary classes and for the children’s drawing club. The computer room is also the music room. Then there is the clinic. There are patient rooms and a pharmacy that are left for what they are – there is no way to get a real dual purpose from those without sacrificing some sort of security. But, in the back of the clinic they have a counseling room. It is mostly used for special medical cases. Every week on Tuesdays parents with club foot babies meet with a counselor there. Wednesdays, they room is turned in to a space to make soap. This Thursday, they are using it to make juice to sell in the markets.
With the latter two, the soap and juice, ladies in the area have formed a group to start their own business. They all invest a little money into raw materials, then get together and make a product to sell. There is a learning curve, for sure. The first batch of anything they try is small, to experiment with, and make sure to get the right consistencies and smell. After a few batches and coming up with a perfect process, they add another project. This time it was juice, and I got to see them have their first go round. Besides the Mangoes, the materials they had to work with were not top notch. Dull blades to peel and cut the Mangoes and a rather old and small blender made the process have a few more bumps in the road. With a little direction, one bigger blade, smaller chunks of mango, and some water, the first successful batch of mango juice was made.
Another group in Changing Times is investing in making bio charcoal. This coal is made out of agricultural waste, like wood chips. Reusing materials waste materials instead of new wood or coal not only helps communities be self sustaining, but green as well.
Each time they make a profit from the sales, they use a little of it to reinvest into more raw materials. They keep track of the costs and profits and materials to make sure it is a good continued investment. These projects not only help some of the adults make a little more money, but it teaches them about business and sustainability.
It is amazing to be a part of the process. I feel their frustrations when it does not work. I work with them to come up with ideas to overcome the issues that arise. And, finally I get to share in the excitement and celebration when it finally works.