Archived News Item

Mercy in Nairobi

Sr Rose Glennen RSM gardening with some of the locals


IF I was born in Nairobi today chances are that I would be born into a family living in a slum.[1] This would be an area where there is no running water, proper toilets, rubbish collection. My house would be in one of many made of what we would call corrugated iron, attached to many other similar houses, now, because of population increase, being built one on top of the other. Chances are I won’t live long. TB, HIV/Aids, gastro infections, common colds and flu as well as perhaps an outbreak of Cholera or common measles or other infectious diseases will make my life difficult to maintain. Medical help is costly and unreliable for people in the slums.


IF I am in a “lucky” spot in the slums, I might find myself in Mukuru Slum and if luckier, still be living near a Mercy school. The Mercies have been offering education to the people in the slums for many years now. They were invited by some slum dwellers who saw what they were offering to people just outside the slums. First schools were in “tin sheds” some of which still remain today though most of the schools have been built of concrete brick with finance from donors from various countries.


IF I get into one of the Mercy schools in the slums, I will get a meal each day (till the funding[2] runs out).  Classes are very large and books and other necessary tools for study limited. Also available will be access to doctors and nurses at the medical clinic, to counselors, perhaps to funding to help me continue beyond primary with my education or for some training to develop skills for life.


IF I have a disability, and am extremely lucky I may get to the facility run for me and my friends by the Mercy Sisters. This is one of the few places where I would feel accepted. Here I would meet physiotherapists and teachers, my parents would learn how to help me at home and to accept me as I am and encourage my participation in community. A lesson for all in the slum.


IF I manage to stay at school and continue with my education, I may be one of the past students who is more than happy to return to the area to teach, care for the sick, to counsel, to walk with others in whatever they are doing. I might live outside the slum area, but I may remain living with my family.


It will be very difficult to move out of the slums, but with a good start from one of the Mercy schools, I may get work as a teacher, a nurse or any other profession. If I can do this, I can probably choose to leave the slum area. This will all be due to the work of many Mercy sisters and their many supporters and donors through the Mercy Promotion Centre.


Sr Kathy Kettle from Perth is working with Sisters of Mercy from Ireland to ensure good buildings, some additional staff (beyond the government allocation), the medical and food projects among others.



[1] Nairobi slums: over 2 million people live in slums of Nairobi. This is 60% of the city’s population. The slums take 1% of the city. In 2009 (last census) population was 3.1M. A new census took place in August 2019.

[2] Funding for food used come from the World Health Program (and donors). This was stopped and replaced by Nairobi Government funds and now these have stopped. Food will be available if donors keep giving.


Messages to: Sr Rose Glennen RSM; Sr Kathy Kettle RSM

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