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Slum girls use city garbage to turn away from crime

A group of women and girls in Korogocho slum is using the garbage at Dandora dump site to turn their lives around.

Instead of prostituting themselves, organising carjacking or trafficking small arms and drugs, they make an honest living by recycling garbage.

Weaving baskets

And with some training from Link the Hidden Treasure, a rehabilitation centre, they are now weaving baskets, making necklaces, bracelets and handbags for sale.

The centre has more than 300 members, some of them young mothers all drawn to it by the challenges they face.

“When these young women and girls join the centre, they are rehabilitated and offered alternative ways of earning a living,” said Khadija Juma, the Hidden Treasure’s team coordinator. 

“We teach them how to use the site, which has been a breeding ground for hardened criminals to turn their backs on crime,” she added. 

Every day the women go out to scavenge the site in search of polythene bags, old rags and aluminium foils.

Diversified training

Ms Juma said there was market for their products in the community and elsewhere. The Government often helped in marketing the products and even placed orders worth Sh50,000, she said. 

Besides that, the centre often organised exhibitions to showcase their products. 

But weaving baskets and making necklaces and bracelets is not all that the group does. Over time, the centre has diversified training to include such skills as hairdressing and even how to make yoghurt.

But everyone starts at the dump site.

After rehabilitation, the young women are connected to financial institutions to get soft loans. 

“We also link them to the centre’s savings and credit facility to get starting capital for businesses of their choice,” Ms Juma said. 

The centre was formed by 15 women after the 2008/2009 post-election violence.

“There were many people who were interested in training back then to venture into enterprise,” she said.