Oloolua Nature Trail

August 24, 2021

Enjoying a breath of fresh air in the beautiful serene Oloolua Forest. This was with a group of girls from Bangladesh slum in the outcasts of Nairobi city. The slum was nicknamed Bangladesh by unknown people. The walk in Oloolua was fun and memorable.

Oloolua nature trail, getting ready for the walk.

The place was not crowded which was suitable for a walk during the pandemic. We had a chance to explore the natural resources that were available like waterfalls, rivers, bamboo forest, ancient caves, and small wooden bridges. The sound of Mbagathi River that runs through the forest soothed everyone’s nerves. The girls couldn’t believe that this was the same river that passes through their slum. The river is clean from the source but gets contaminated as it goes along; all they receive in the slum is the murky water.

Beautiful water falls at the Oloolua Forest.

Huge Bamboo forest and the Mbagathi River. 

Although the walk was fun, the girls also spotted dry logs of timber that they suggested was worth a good sum of money if sold as firewood. We realized that the girls care about their parents and their guardians’ financial status. It was disappointing for them to know that the dry timber was part of the Kenya forest conservation. We were also quick to remind them about the importance of conserving the environment.

People who live in the slum mostly depend on daily manual work from the neighboring small companies but due to the pandemic, most of these companies are now closed leaving them with no source of income, making their livelihood even more difficult. The girls talked about how they are at risk of being married off by their parents. Poverty has become the main reason for early marriages in the slum area. When a father lacks money to support the whole family, he gets frustrated and gives his daughter up for marriage to any man who has even a small sum of finances to exchange. Most of these parents are highly addicted to drugs and the little money earned from manual labor is too small to support both the family and their urge for drugs and alcohol. The parents think the easiest way out is to marry off their daughters to ease their financial burden.

The girls also indicated that they get harassed from drunk men daily, which puts them at risk of being raped or sexually assaulted. They said most of them have been raped but had to keep quiet because no one was brave enough to speak out and report the crime to the authorities, since the rapists are either landlords or their parents’ employers. The rapists manipulate their victims by inflicting fear on them through threats to fire or evict their parents, and when considering their parents’ financial situations, these girls end up keeping silent. We encouraged the girls that it is time to break the cycle by speaking up to change their situation both to punish the offenders and to protect their young siblings who might well face the same challenge. 

Urinal track infections (UTI) is also a major problem the girls face, since there is no proper sanitation and adequate bathrooms. We encouraged the girls to improve their hygiene as much they can despite their situation because poverty is not permanent, and with determination, discipline and hard work they can change their own future for the better. The girls fear for their future due to lack of adequate educational materials and feel left behind by other students who have better learning facilities. They requested for assistance, if possible.

After a nice walk full of mixed feelings, we shared an amazing meal together and all agreed that it was a day well spent.

The girls enjoy a meal of ‘Nyama Choma’ after the walk.

We gave the girls sanitary towels donated by Valvisions Foundation and a talk from Grace on the need to keep hope alive despite the circumstances they face living in the slum. They are young, and if they look at the bigger picture, a lot lies ahead for them.

 Distribution of sanitary towels.

Grace giving the girls a talk.

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