Missions of Hope are a faith-based organisation, providing a range of services to the most vulnerable members of the local community: children, HIV-positive adults, and others; all living in the Mathare slums in Nairobi, Kenya.

Mathare is a collection of slums in Nairobi, Kenya with a population of approximately 800,000 people. Spread over a thin strip of land 8km long, the residents live in homes made of scrap wood, corrugated tin and mud. Families of up to 10 often live in houses of 10m². There is little sanitation, and no power. Unemployment, alcoholism and prostitution is rife.

Kenya, officially the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa lies on the equator. With the Indian Ocean to its south-east, it is bordered by Tanzania to the south, Uganda to the west, South Sudan to the north-west, Ethiopia to the north and Somalia to the north-east. Kenya has a land area of 580,000 km2 and a population of a little over 43 million residents. The country is named after Mount Kenya, a significant landmark and second among Africa's highest mountain peaks. Its capital and largest city is Nairobi.

Missions of Hope are a faith-based organisation, providing a range of services to the most vulnerable members of the local community: children, HIV-positive adults, and others; all living in the Mathare slums.

Wallace and Mary Kamau first began working in the Mathare Valley slums in 1991 while they were university students. They experienced first hand how a mission group or organisation would come into Mathare, do a week long crusade, and then leave again. Many people would make a decision to follow Christ, but then none of them would come to church the next Sunday. A group would share information about health and basic sanitation, yet simply providing information did not bring about change. They now describe it as a "hit and run" approach, and they clearly saw that such an approach was not going to bring lasting change to Mathare.

In order to achieve sustainable, lasting difference, in September of 2000 they started a small school in a rented “house” for 50 four and five year old children. By 2010 there were over 3,400 children enrolled in the 10 schools in the Valley and one boarding school outside of the city for the 5th, 6th, and 7th graders.

Missions of Hope also helps young entrepreneurs get businesses off the ground by providing loans through a microfinance scheme. While still in its infancy, this initiative has an outstanding loan portfolio of US$ 50,000 which has provided 350 microloans in just two years.

Mission of Hope's vision is to see transformed lives among the disadvantaged communities in Kenya and beyond.

Conor O''Flynn

I met this lady in Kenya whilst paying a visit to the slums. She walked over to me and asked if I would take her picture and show it to people while telling her story. She wanted me to know that because of the work that organisations like Legatum and others are doing in Kenya, her grandchildren have been given a very good chance to have a better life outside of the slums. She hoped her grandchildren would never again have to set foot in the slums; that they may be given a good education and that this education could take them out of the poverty that her generation are stuck in. Her face lit up as she was relaying this through a local translator.

I felt really good walking away from the slum as I started to believe that in some very small way I may have indirectly helped because of my involvement with Legatum. That woman left a lasting impression on me and not a week has gone by since that trip when I haven’t thought about what she said.”

Conor O'Flynn is Senior Technical Support Analyst at the Legatum Foundation

Above: Mathare is a collection of slums in Nairobi, Kenya with a population of approximately 800,000 people.

Above: The Missions of Hope school stands proudly above the Mathare slums.

Above: Missions of Hope also helps young entrepreneurs get businesses off the ground by providing loans through a microfinance scheme.


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