Love is the answer
This project is an experiment to see what love can do in a harsh Nairobi slum called Kituii Ndogo, beset with numerous, seemingly hopeless challenges.
It started off as a hail mary of an idea, without much hope. The idea being to work on a small construction project to inject some happiness into a targeted section of the community to open the door for loving, value-based follow up surrounding positive sanitation and hygiene habits.
The video was shared online and caught the attention of three young ladies, two Afghans and a Sri Lankan living in the US and Germany.
They became inspired by the situation at the slum and with all their heart got behind the project and without being asked, began fundraising to make it a reality and would later all fly to Nairobi to visit for a week.
Rumi said it best, Every need brings in what's needed.
In a little over three weeks and with the assistance of over 40 donors, the full amount of money was raised ($6,000).
The last donation—a generous one—was made after the project was funded (with a clear note to that effect) and was given with the following, The donation is made today in honor of my brother-in-law who is undergoing 18 hours of surgery to save his life. So maybe today we will save 6000 [amount of residents affected by project] plus 1.
This is love in action.
Finding love in human waste
Half of the project was about cleaning up toxic raw sewage, quite a bit of which consisted of human waste.
Who would have thought doing so would be the cause for creating such unity and joy amongst a range of different peoples from different cultures?
Here we have 'the girls,' Kituii's Angels—from left: Sonali, Eli, and Ziba—with the mostly volunteer crew who performed the work and Chairman from Kituii Ndogo after the inauguration of the 1st of 3 sewage trenches that will ensure the sewage that was once backing up, will not do so again.
The construction will impact the lives of 6,000 residents and decrease, probably dramatically, the risk of catching potentially fatal waterborne illnesses like Cholera or Typhoid—especially during the rainy season in April.
We held hands in a beautiful circle and officially inaugurated the trench in a spirit of love and unity. A moment of silence was held for the donor's brother-in-law undergoing surgery, where we sent well wishes from afar.
This 1st trench, nicknamed 'Mr. Toilet,' was dedicated in honor of the memory of Ishwardada Patel who dedicated his entire life to promoting sanitation awareness in India, especially among the poor. There is no doubt his grace was involved with the swift realization of this project.
1 March 2012: 1st trench, 'Mr. Toilet,' is complete and all the girls were present for its inauguration.
5 March 2012: Unexpected ripple effect. Eli seeds Brosis (separate project) with its 1st livelihood project, a sewing center for women!
6 March 2012: Wire transfers processing, money soon available to start work on 2nd and 3rd trenches.
9 March 2012: Materials for 2nd and 3rd trenches has been delievered to the site, we expect all work to be fully complete in 7-10 days. :D
15 March 2012: 2nd trench complete. 3rd still in progress.
25 March 2012: 2nd and 3rd trenches complete! :) We held a meeting with most of the directly affected residents this day to strongly encourage them to keep the trenches clean through weekly maintenance. It really is up to them now to ensure the project's full success—we will keep an eye on the trenches over the next few weeks and intervene when necessary.
1 April 2012: Eli shares an inspiring video of her experience in Kenya.
11 April 2012: More ripple effects, a student of New York University's Global Health Leadership program cites our sewage project in formal academic research!