The Ruben Project
The Ruben Centre is a not-for-profit charity organisation situated in the Mukuru Kwa Njenga slums of Nairobi, Kenya. Located 10km away from the city centre the slums are built upon land that was initially used as a dump, hence its name Mukuru or ‘Garbage site.’ Today it is home to over 600,000 people who live in make shift corrugated shacks commonly measuring only 10 by 10 feet. Slum dwellers typically find casual work at nearby manufacturing industries while many others are either unemployed or trying to make a living off the streets.
Through the provision of services in the core areas of education, community development and health the Ruben Centre aims to increase the living standards of the residents who reside in the slum. The health services include general outpatient and curative services, immunisations, HIV testing and counseling and dental services.
Endemic diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, typhoid, dysentery and AIDs exacerbate the poor predicament of the community. Malnutrition among children is rampant. The high cost of living and poor income of families means that even simple health care is out of reach of most families. It also means that children are expected to work for the family at an early age, which contributes, to the high levels of illiteracy and a 44% drop out rate among schools in the area.
In 2012 members of Ubuntu Through Health visited the region and helped establish the Malnutrition Intervention Program (MIP). The MIP aims to treat malnourished children aged between 6 months and 6 years with a fortified, nutrient rich meal of corn soya blend. Provision of this meal with be tied to mandatory education of their caregivers regarding child health and family planning. They will also be encouraged to access the Ruben centres microfinance and vocational training programs. Children will be discharged upon reaching criteria indicating proper nourishment or if after 4 months there has been no improvement will be referred for specialist treatment. The program aims to lift children out of the dangerous malnourished bracket through the provision of the meal and keep them there through education and support for their caregivers.
Ubuntu Through Health has also provided funding to improve compliance rates in the Ruben Centre’s OT program. This program caters mainly for children suffering from rickets and cerebral palsy and helps children regain function and independence. However, due to the large distances required to travel to the clinic and the opportunity cost of a missed days work, compliance rates in the OT program are low.
To improve these rates, Ubuntu Through Health has developed the OT Incentive Program, which involves distributing 90kg of corn soya blend between families who have attended 100% of OT appointments in the previous month.
In November 2012, Ubuntu Through Health hosted the Dinner For Ruben event at Royal on the Park in Brisbane. This event raised $53,775 to ensure funding forthe MIP and OT incentive program for four years.