During a visit to Kibera in June 2005, we discovered a community of 50 orphans and vulnerable children learning in a dark, small, sewage-ridden, unsafe iron shed. After seeing the need first hand, we couldn’t walk away from these children and do nothing. After providing initial support directly to this school, Kim Winter and Lalita Stables set up the charity Oasis Africa in partnership with Ross and Karen Howe in 2006 with a purpose to provide freedom from poverty through education.
3.9 million people live in slums in Kenya, which represents 55% of the urban population. Housing for Nairobi’s slum dwellers typically consists of shanties made of mud, sticks and iron sheets. There are as many as 250 shanties per hectare and there is little or no access to water, electricity, basic services and infrastructure with around 94% of slum dwellers lacking access to adequate sanitation. Most structures are let on a room-by-room basis with many families (on average 6 - 8 people) living in just one room. These factors have serious repercussions on the health and wellbeing of slum dwellers.
On the 26 October 2006, the inaugural Oasis Africa Australia fundraiser was held in Sydney to raise awareness and funds to help create a better future for the disadvantaged and underprivileged children of Kenya. The night was a roaring success and provided the foundation to bring together a community of supporters who, each playing their part, have enabled tangible change in 1000’s of students’ lives over the last 13 years.
Since 2005, the original Primary School is now a thriving self-sustaining facility as a result of direct support from Oasis Africa, over a 10 year period (2005 - 2014), providing facilities such as; classrooms that can accommodate up to 1,000 students, kitchen with jiko cookers (to provide daily meals), staff rooms, security fences, multiple pit latrines, water tank & water connection, library and networking connections with other charity partners working in Kibera.
Between 2013 - 2016, Oasis Africa conducted an agriculture sustainability project to support the operations and well-being of a community Primary School Bethlehem Community Centre (BCC) in Soweto Slum, Nairobi.
Despite well-established school facilities, the school was finding it difficult to meet the ongoing financial monthly commitment of staff and teacher salaries. To ensure that Oasis Africa provided a hand up and not just a hand out, an agreed 3-year partnership was initiated to utilise BCC’s existing 40 acres of land they owned in Kamulu (about 45 minutes away from the Primary School) to establish a profitable and sustainable agricultural farm. The goal for this project was to harvest enough crops every month to provide fresh vegetables to the Primary school students, completely pay all financial overheads in the running of the Primary School, while covering the costs associated with running the farm. The project was a huge success. At the completion of the 3-year timeframe, the land was transformed from being completely uncultivated to a flourishing 11 acres under crop (french beans, peppers, maize, tomatoes, banana trees), 2 water bores each supported by 16,000 litre water tanks / towers and pumps (with thanks to the Australian High Commission for 2 successful funding grants), drip irrigation, farm animals (cows for milk and rabbits for a breeding program), pit latrines, building structures, security gate and electricity.
This successful innovative initiative was recognised with Karen Howe representing Oasis Africa being invited to speak about the sustainable outcomes of the project at the Global Development Group bi-annual international conference in Singapore in 2016.
Kibera is one of Africa’s most notorious slums, with over 1 million inhabitants in 4 square miles near Nairobi. In order to provide a hand up to students living in Kibera, Oasis Africa established a Secondary School Scholarship program in 2008. The student scholarship program provides a key step to breaking the poverty cycle for these children, their families and the community. By the students gaining highly employable skills through advanced education, trade or business qualifications, they will be in the most favourable position to be significant income earners in the future.