Harambee Toto: Building Stronger Families in Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya

Katthe headed to Nairobi from November 16 - 23 to participate in the Collective Impact Initiative, Harambee Toto (all together for young children) in one of the largest slums in the world -- Kibera. The initiative focuses on three components: early childhood education, community development, and Be Strong Families’ Parent Cafes. Through these groups, the initiative provides Parent Cafes, job opportunities, early education programs, and community events. It is currently spearheaded by the Utopia Foundation -- which uses its resources to catalyze indigenous efforts to promote change. Be Strong Families is part of the US team that provides resources, training, and support to organizations on the ground.

The highlight of this trip was further adaptation of parent cafes -- now called Kikao Cha Wazazi (the sitting of the parents). Since cafes happen in Kibera without tables -- or many of the other features typical to US Be Strong Families Parent Cafes -- we also renamed the hosting functions: the cafe host is the Mwenye Boma (head of the homestead) and the table hosts are Mwenye Boma Mdogo -- kind of junior Mwenye Boma -- delegates of the Mwenye Boma. The Kikao Cha Wazazi are conducted by members of the Soweto Forum -- a human rights and housing advocacy group in Kibera that has been working there for 25 years. They have adopted human development as a human right. Their mission is to spread the cafes locally. Katthe did three days of intensive training with the cafe team. This culminated in them being able to host a Kikao Cha Wazazi for teachers at a local preschool partner in Harambee Toto called Kdogo. The team was very happy at how this worked out.They said that “at the beginning we lacked courage because these teachers have more education than we do. But we know how to do the cafes and we know you believed in us to do it, so we gained confidence.”

In addition to parent cafes, Katthe also participated in a four-day training of Community Health Workers / home visitors. The training covered understanding trauma and its effect on them as paraprofessional home visitors and also on the children and families they serve -- including the impact of trauma on the developing brain. Katthe assisted Harambee Toto team leader Maggie Sprattmoran and senior consultant Lizzie Feigenbaum with embedding the Strengthening Families Protective Factors into the training as well as understanding parent engagement as a cornerstone of effective family strengthening / home visiting work. This is a paradigm shift for Community Health Workers as helpers.

Jessie SchrantzComment