Kenya

There are few paying jobs in Kariobangi, a crowded neighborhood in northeastern Nairobi. CRS organizes working groups that allow members to make a living while providing a much needed service to the community.

“To be something, to be doing something is important”, Michael says. “It brings us together as a community, and also puts food on the table for our families.”

- Michael Mzuli, member of a CRS-organized working group

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Catholic social teaching focus:

Sacredness and Dignity of the Human Person

Created in the image of God, all people possess an inherent dignity that comes directly from our creation and not from any action of our own. Human life is sacred and the welfare of all people is a priority.

Michael’s Story

Kariobangi is a neighborhood in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city. The people who live here come from many different backgrounds. Many are young adults under the age of 30. The people of Kariobangi have trouble finding jobs, clean water and healthy food that is not too expensive. Hunger, poverty and sickness are problems that affect the entire community. Since there are very few paid jobs in Kariobangi, people can have a hard time affording food and other necessities for their families.

Michael Mzuli is part of a working group organized by Kariobangi’s Holy Trinity Parish with support from Catholic Relief Services.  Holy Trinity and CRS help these groups start small businesses such as mechanic shops, garbage collection, gardening services, motorcycle taxi businesses and hair salons. First, the group decides what service their community needs. Then CRS helps them get any tools they need to start the work, and makes sure they have a plan to work together as a team. Many of the jobs done by these groups, like planting trees and collecting garbage, make Kariobangi a better place to live.

Since there is no organized garbage collection service in Kariobangi, Michael’s group decided to collect garbage from households for a small fee. CRS helped them buy push-carts so they could carry the garbage to the dump. At the end of each day, the working group divides the money they earned so each worker gets paid. Now, Michael can afford healthy food for his wife, Janette, and their young daughter, Stephanie.

Michael is happy to earn money through his new job, but he is also happy to be a part of a group working together. “To be something, to be doing something is important”, Michael says. “It brings us together as a community, and also puts food on the table for our families.”

Read more stories from Kenya.

Facts to consider:

  • Located in East Africa, Kenya is an ethnically and culturally diverse nation. In Kariobangi, most of Kenya’s 42 tribes are represented, as well as 65 different religious denominations.
  • A history of differences between the various ethnic groups—along with limited basic resources like clean water, affordable food and paying jobs—has caused violence in Kariobangi. Fortunately, community policing and peacebuilding programs run by CRS and its local partners have decreased violence in the last decade.
  • Most people go to the market daily and buy food with whatever money they earned that day from their odd jobs. Buying food in small amounts is much more expensive than purchasing in larger quantities, but people cannot afford to shop for more than one day’s food at a time.