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Wheelbarrow Ambulances, wheels of hope saving lives in Kibera slums

Dante Mwandawiro
Written by Dante Mwandawiro

Kibera slum residents live in extreme poverty, earning less than sh.100 per day. Unemployment rates are high. Persons living with HIV/AIDS are many. Assault and rape cases are the order of the day. There are a few schools, and most people cannot afford education for their children. Clean water is scarce. Diseases caused by poor hygiene are prevalent. The majority of the people lack access to basic services, including electricity, running water, and medical care. The streets are very narrow, and not built for cars. During the rainy season, they become almost impassible such that not even a motorbike can navigate through.

Kibera slum in Nairobi

Welcome to Kibera slums, a savage kingdom of poverty located South West of Nairobi. It is in this area that former Primer Minister Raila Odinga was a Member of Parliament for 21 years. Two decades of his leadership failed to change Kibera which is dominated by his Luo community. Coincidentally, he used to rely on the slum to mobilize a formidable demonstration force instantaneously, whenever he needed. Bogged down by economic bleakness and wallowing in desolation, they become easy prey for political ill-use to execute violence anytime political predators need.

In Kibera, the situation is so dire that the residents still hinge on a 16th Century equipment, the wheelbarrow, as Ambulance. For 21 years Raila was the MP, he failed to build roads; failed to provide clean drinking water; failed to build any hospital; failed to build schools; failed to provide a well-equipped Ambulance, such that it is only a wheelbarrow that is saving lives of pregnant mothers and other sick residents in the slums.

Whenever one is in urgent need of medical care, friends and family must rely on a wheelbarrow with a battery-powered siren and some beddings, to be taken to a nearby hospital. Hundreds have been saved and women in labour are the most beneficiaries of the Wheelbarrow Ambulance Project, dubbed Community Strategy Ambulance project.

As you see wheelbarrows as 16th-century equipment, the hustlers of Kibera see them as wheels of hope that are lifesavers, and precious ambulances their lives heavily depend on for survival.