Givology Staff's Blog

Carolina for Kibera: How it All Started

By Julia Tofan
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[url=]Carolina for Kibera[/url], founded by Rye Barcott, Salim Mohamed, and the late Tabitha Atieno Festo in 2001, pioneers local solutions to local problems. Through a unique and effective practice Barcott calls participatory development, the non-governmental organization enables local communities to lead grassroots projects. In the memoir "[url=]It Happened on the Way to War[/url]," Barcott describes the NGO's diverse accomplishments in setting up a community sports program, including unique opportunities like a [url=]jump rope team[/url], girls' center, medical clinic, and waste management program. Barcott writes, "We provide healthcare. We give scholarships. We empower through soccer and jump rope. We clean up trash. We give girls a place to express themselves. We give HIV tests and anti-retroviral drugs. We nurture entrepreneurs. We teach peace."
The idea of Carolina for Kibera started when Barcott, planning a career in the military, visited Nairobi, Kenya in order to understand ethnic violence and prepare for entering the marines. He learned Swahili, spoke to the people of Kibera, Africa's largest slum, and learned of the struggles that the people faced. Barcott shares the renewal of hope in the slum referred to as the "microcosm of the world's problems" when Carolina for Kibera was founded.
In his visit to Kibera, Barcott interviewed young students and befriended an unemployed nurse and mother, Tabitha Atieno Festo. She introduced him to a world marred by alcohol, ethnic and class violence, organized criminal gangs, and severe poverty. When she expressed wishful plans to open a vegetable stand in a wealthier area of Nairobi, she explained that she lacked the money to do it. Rye offered her the money, 26 USD, and years later upon his return he came across "Rye Medical Clinic. Sacrificing for Success," a clinic Tabitha started with the money that she made from the vegetable stand. The growth and development that stemmed from $26 reflects the basis of Givology, to fund students and schooling projects that then lead to increased growth not only for individuals, but for communities.
Unrecognized by the government, Kibera lacks basic services like sewers, schools, and roads, but beyond the poverty and violence lies a vibrant culture of bright colored kanga wraps, Swahili language, and close community ties. On a trip returning to Nairobi, Barcott meets Salim Mohamed, "the charming, gritty, engaging leader who ran the information and communication department at MYSA, the Mathare Youth Sports Association" and reaffirmed Barcott's "faith in youth leadership." He turned the NGO to the leadership of Tabitha and Salim, and Carolina for Kibera continues to grow and actively solve the problems of Kibera today.
In 2013, a Givology volunteer visited Kibera and shared her experience through [url=]stories and photographs[/url], documenting the poverty of the slum, but also the hope that the driven students in the area have for a better future.
The most recent project of Carolina for Kibera is a [url=]computer lab for girls[/url] to learn about entrepreneurship, research, coding, and a variety of other powerful skills.
In partnership with Givology, Carolina for Kibera is helping students afford an education by giving scholarships. Students like [url=]Beth[/url], who hopes to be a lawyer for children's rights, [url=]Patrick[/url], who aspires to be an engineer, and [url=]Elector[/url], who says "I have not lost hope" and is determined to persevere and get an education to become a doctor despite the obstacles that she faces are getting the opportunity to make their dreams a reality. These students are the future of Kibera and can continue the wave of change that Carolina for Kibera has begun with the powerful resources of education and encouragement.


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