Margret,Founder of SCC with children at Soweto

    At the heart of Kayole's Soweto slum is Smile community centre which is a beacon of hope to a lot of street children. It hosts 30 street kids and it often extends its hands to the rest of the street kids through a feeding program since it cant host more due to a shortage of resources. And just like a ship it has a captain to stair it to the promised land.

    The most comforting bit of Smile community center is that it's captain is a lady filled with vigor to help as many kids as possible .Margaret Nekesa is the lady behind the wheel and as they say you just don't start something and wait for it to blossom. There's always a reason behind everything and anything. For Margaret it didn't just pop up, it was a build up of life events she encountered from childhood up to some of her adulthood. First she comes from a very humble background with three kids. Being a first born in a family of girls meant that the mantle of leadership will always be on her hands. In every hurdle they have had to face she was in the lead to take them through.

    Growing up she encountered her first break through her parent's separation because of violence and the fact that her mother was unable to conceive a boy child. This led to them, the three sisters, being sent to the village to their grandfather's farm where they turned into herds girls looking after cattle. Despite all this she managed to go to school to study,interestingly, she bought her first pair shoes, ngoma rubber shoes when she was joining high school, a depiction of maisha kuwa ngoma.

    Life moved on swiftly and she landed on her first marriage which didn't last for long when her husband died of a car accident in 1991, after sometime she got into her second marriage. The marriage brought joy in the form of kids, a boy and a girl, unfortunately, it could not work out together when an event that changed her life completely took place. Her back pain escalated to severe spinal cord bend and doctors said she would not manage to recover .She was bedridden from 1996 to 2003 with three kids to look after.

    They stayed in a single room and the kids would go out to look for a meal. Since they were technically street kids, whatever they got served them and they were generous to involve other street kids in their activities and often they would come back home with them. This all experience created a desire to help and her prayers were always to get out of bed in order to help these kids live a better life. At some point she was given a wheelchair but she refused and said she believes God will wake her up from the bed.

    Her prayers worked and she got out with a mission to serve God through children, to start a Smile Community Centre children’s home. And her goal was to get orphaned and abandoned kids to live a better life. Through her interactions with head teachers from within her local area, she would enroll the kids, sometimes without paying a dime. Actually the home started in her house where she would share her kids clothes and bedding with the street kids but it did not work effectively due to space,she had to start from the iron sheet home then reclaimed an abandoned dumpsite which is leased at the moment).

    Over the years they've seen progress and now they have children on campus and others are yet to join. She now has 30 children under full time care. The youngest being a three year old who was left on the street.The home also runs a feeding program that helps over 300+ children in Soweto Slums. The most impressive bit about this is that her kids through their networks come together to help her achieve the goal of making Smile Community centre better. Dalai Lama said, "A simple smile. That’s the start of opening your heart and being compassionate to others. “ and that's what Margaret believes in. That her smile combined with other aspects of life can change the world.

    Written by : Billy Isiye

    Our Goals

    Mission and Vision Banner

    Our Mission

    To promote self-reliance, education and well being of marginalized children,women and youth in the informal settlements.

    Our vision

    To see a community free of illiteracy, lack of sustainable income and poor health.

    Our Objectives

    • To create awareness on HIV&AIDS , stigma and discrimination.
    • To offer training in hygiene, environmental management, skill and technical training.
    • To offer counseling to specific interests (HBC etc.),medication & referral, food & nutrition support
    • To empower people in the community realize their own potential through income generating activities e.g. beadwork, artwork and small business.
    • To create an environment where people understand the importance of proper nutrition and good health through home based care programs.
    • To support needy orphaned children through a rescue center for the vulnerable.
    • To promote prevention of mother to child transmission and maternal newborn and child healthcare awareness trainings among women to reduce infant mortality rates.
    • To promote exchange programs between smile community and other organizations both.
    • local and international through facilitating capacity building, sharing of ideas and cultural experiences.
    • To provide psychological support through counseling to the youth and women.
    • To nature and develop talent through sports and games.
    • To advocate for human rights and the right to live positively.

    Smile’s Strategic Long Term Objectives

    We are looking forward to implement our long term plans as soon as we get sustainable donor funding as listed below.

    Mobilization

    Smile community aims at mobilizing more communities in various provinces in Kenya by opening more centers in long term.

    Outdoor Activities

    Environmental awareness as part of smiles objectives is set to be conducted in large scale by involving other organizations. Mobilization through outdoor trainings and workshops to be diverse to different regions away from a home set up as they remain to be part of smiles programs.

    Our Story

    Problem Statement

    Kenya is one of the fastest growing economies in Africa, with the economic growth rate at 4.9% in just the first quarter of 2015. With such a high economic growth rate, it attracts a lot of investors in all the sectors of business be it, agriculture, healthcare, finance, technology and so many more. Opportunities for growing Kenya are so many and varied.

    However, even with such promise in Kenya, there is still the part of society that lies forgotten and desolate. In any neighborhood in Kenya you will find a divide between the elite and the poverty stricken estates. Walk into Nairobi town early in the morning, the streets are filled with homeless men, women and children, sleeping on card board boxes and covering themselves with potato sacks. This is still the same Kenya that has one of the first growing real estate markets in Kenya even higher than Miami, USA in 2011-2012. Poverty in Kenya’s cities still astounds most given the fast growth of our economy.

    An image of Nairobi City and informal settlements

    Negative factors such as HIV/AIDS, environmental hygiene, lack of education and lack of consistent and substantial income are contributing factors to the increasing population of underprivileged people. This section of the society requires all the positive aid it can be given if they are to rise from the position they are at right now.

    Smile Community Centre was registered in the year 2009 to fill one of the opportunity niches provided by this situation. Motivated by her need to serve God through community work after recovery a near death experience,Margret Nekesa Khaemba, a mother of three, saw the need in the society for a safe haven where women and children in informal settlements could gain support, training and counseling to help them make a better life for themselves. She worked in the community by counseling women ,teaching them home based care,helping needy children with food and linking them to educational support and hospital facilities in the informal settlements of Kayole and soweto slums.As time went by,she learnt that most of the women did not have basic skills to help them earn a living.She mobilized them and registered Smile self help group,which involved training the women and youth to make bead-works,detergents and food items to sell while using the proceeds to help themselves and buy food for street children. To know more about our founder Margret, please click here

    Continuing with the vision of the founder,the centre has made good progress to what it is now.

    There was a need to formalize the group to a community based organization to broaden programs and increase the reach of community support and support orphaned and vulnerable children; hence the group was registered with the ministry of labour , social security and services of the republic of Kenya as a Community Based Organization (CBO) in the year 2016.

    Working for children...how the children's centre was started

    Led by Margret,the children work has been aimed at helping vulnerable children from domestic violence,family conflict among other factors.Most of the children were being referred to Margret by the local police officers.As it turned out some of the children were vulnerable and orphaned with no option of returning back to their previous life.They were being referred to other children homes since there was no permanent home for them.However the children kept on coming in and there was a need to open the children centre.

    The home started in the house

    Motivated by the need to help vulnerable children with no better place to go,the centre started at Margret's house.The number of children increased in the house and centre had to start from somewhere despite of lack of resources.A structure made of iron sheet was rented next to PCEA Kayole church near sabasaba , in the east lands of Nairobi Kenya.Sometimes it rained inside during heavy rainfall so the children had to go back and sleep at Margret's house until the rain season stopped.There was no water or electricity in the iron sheet structure.They studied at night using kerosene lamps. See photos here

    There was a tremendous need to move the children out of the  iron sheet structure to a better place.With the support of well-wishers,the centre moved to a better place and it is now located in the eastlands of Nairobi at soweto, opposite shillo community primary and secondary school. You can connect from donholm using savanna road and stop at jacaranda stage where you can be picked to the centre.

    The centre has allowed us to open our doors to orphaned children housing them in our new establishment Smile Community Children Home. It has also allowed us to offer special programs such as a feeding program and income generating programs to help youth and women so that they can help themselves.

    Smile’s Strategic Long Term Objectives

    We are looking forward to implement our long term plans as soon as we get sustainable donor funding as listed below.

    Mobilization

    Smile community aims at mobilizing more communities in various provinces in Kenya by opening more centers in long term. Outdoor Activities

    Environmental awareness as part of smiles objectives is set to be conducted in large scale by involving other organizations. Mobilization through outdoor trainings and workshops to be diverse to different regions away from a home set up as they remain to be part of smiles programs.

    Group Therapies

    Group therapies will be held for the special needs of all members in the community to enhance psychological care .The target groups are:

    • Abused women and children
    • Drug addicts
    • Ex juvenile delinquents
    • Youth in general
    • PLHIV(People living with HIV)