ABOUT MAMA BIASHARA
For some six years I have been involved in working with the very poorest of families in slum areas across Kenya. Initially it was simply giving funding for food, house rent, education, but, having spent more and more time with these women, in 2008 MAma Biashara proper was born "A Hand Up, Not A Hand Out" is our motto and we try to stick to it. From Nairobi (where, currently, the bulk of our work is done) to Awendo in South Nyanza Mama Biashara sets women up in small, manageable businesses that can start generating a daily income immediately. £25 will start a small business selling vegetables or charcoal, second hand clothes or making chappatis. We have even started a business selling chicken heads with £5. Business is still good !
This has been working very well. Hundreds of families now have an income. A continuing income. Not much but enough for mother and children to survive on. Many of the women are HIV+, but what MAma Biashara has discovered is that the worst disease here - and elsewhere in Africa - is not really HIV, but poverty. Total poverty. People die of that kind of poverty every day here in the slums. And the cure for poverty is not charity, but business.
Of course Mama Biashara takes food supplements and medicines (cod liver oil saves lives out there!), educational supplies, baby food, condoms and, when we can, donated phones and computer equipment.
So far, as well as setting several hundred women up in businesses, Mama B has built a children's home and school (in Waithake, Nairobi) for 120 orphans and vulnerable children, a children's home in Awendo, we have dug a community well in Juja, where we also run a Feeding Project (with deworming, head-shaving and basic medical supervision) for 100 children every week, and run hugely popular safe-sex and empowerment workshops. Mama Biashara has also developed a close working relationship with local projects working with commercial sex workers andhas most recently started meeting with members of the gay community (one of Kenya's most marginalised groups) with a view to starting a project with them.
But watch this space (or rather the News page) because Mama B is not stopping here ...