NAIROBI, Kenya, May 28- An isolated ‘Island’ of tranquility that stretches for about 200 metres is booming right at the periphery of a reeking Nairobi river and sprawling Korogocho slums.
A well-manicured lawn, sprouting flowers and trees and even a pavement makes the place a choice for young and the old, in a populous slum, famous for a myriad of issues that includes runaway crime.
But not even the overwhelming stench from the flowing sewer like the river has stopped the locals from making their own ‘small’ happiness, in a place where two meals a day, locals say is not always a guarantee.
While billions of both taxpayers and donors funds have been spent to clean the river and including changing its landscape, some 66 youths reformed gangsters have only passion to hold on, as their motivation.
“Young children have been coming here to play while adults just either walk around or simply bask in the sun, it is relieving,” Komb green solutions co-founder Christopher Wachira told Capital FM News.
They started a few but many have joined what Wachira describes as a journey of faith to transform what to many is irredeemable.
Lately, the area dubbed the ‘People’s park’ has been hosting slums events and has attracted even foreign tourists, keen to see the changing face of Nairobi River.
“Our children have a place to place play instead of swimming or playing inside the river,” Margaret Njeri, a mother of three told Capital FM News.
This could be the story along with all the areas where Nairobi river snakes through, but with a little effort.
The story of Nairobi River is that of self-inflicted pain, while much has been done to reclaim its glory, much more is being done by industries and owners of apartments mostly in the high-end parts of the County, to ensure the status quo remains -a dead river.
“Sadly, even some hospitals have been dumping their waste to the river. Who will stop them?” Wachira posed.
In 2009, under the watch of late Environment Minister John Michuki, about three million tonnes of solid waste was cleared up from the river and its surroundings.
Then, the Government had planned to sustain the cleanliness for at least 3 years at a cost of Sh16 billion.
While subsequent multi-million shillings efforts have been carried out, Kombo green solutions youth group have over a span of 2 years made a difference that is noticeable.
And just like that, the people’s park at the banks of Nairobi River has transformed tens of youths in Korogocho, provided a much-needed space for children and maybe, one day the once cool waters of Nairobi, will regain their glory.