Sunday, April 12, 2009

Christmas in Korogocho: How DFID cash helps children in Kenya's slums

Christmas 2008 has now come and gone. In the UK, most children got excited about Christmas, whether they had lots of wishes and expectations, or only one.

Kenyan children have wishes too. Meet Margaret Wamboi, who is 13 years old. Orphaned by AIDS, she lives in the slum of Korogocho in Nairobi. It's not a pretty place. In fact, 'Korogocho' means 'dumping-ground' in Kiswahili. So, what was Margaret's Christmas wish?

"My dream is to find a sponsor who will help me go to secondary school" she says. The evening we spoke to her she'd just finished her last day of primary school. Primary education is free in Kenya but Margaret knows her family doesn't have enough money for secondary school fees. Margaret's big sister Wahu, 16, looks after her and five other children also orphaned by AIDS. Wahu's dream, too, is that her sister Margaret is able to continue her education. "The biggest Christmas present for me that I would love, would be for the children all to go to school." Click on the video (right) to hear Margaret and Wahu's story.

The fact is that most children in Korogocho - a dangerous and unforgiving place inhabited by some 300,000 of the poorest, most desperate people in East Africa - will not get a present this Christmas. But, as journalist Alex Renton reports, DFID, Unicef and the Kenyan government are working together to give these and other orphaned and vulnerable children small amounts of cash that will help realise their wishes for the future.

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