Kenya, Africa

KEN01b - Mathare Community Outreach Education Support: Partnership Reports

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Report Date: October 18, 2017

Report from BHW Kenya Partnership Facilitator Following Visit


Key people: Daniel and Magdalene Ogutu, Gilbert Osumbu, Rodgers Ade 

Recent Events

desperate placeWe spent a day with the team in Mathare. There is always a lot to talk about with them when we are there. I think we came away a little concerned that there are some real sustainability issues overall in the partnership. 

They have lost some major donors in the last couple of years and the impact of that is beginning to bite. World Food has handed over the food supply to the government and there is a real concern that this will not continue next year. The team is adamant that if they were to stop feeding the children they would not come to school. It is almost the main reason the children come to school. One can understand that parents will send their kids to the place where they can get the best deal for their children and if they don’t eat their learning capacity is diminished. 

The Board have recently been visited by officials associated with the government. They have picked up that MCO has been making deductions from their employees’ wages (which are meant to be paid into funds for superannuation etc) but MCO has instead used the deducted amounts for other purposes. This has gone on for quite a while and consequently MCO owes a significant amount to these employee funds. It is possible that the government will prosecute the trustees because of this.


Personal Stories

We did not get the opportunity to interview any children or their families but we visited the school in the Valley and a couple of families. They are very thankful for the school and the help they get. Their family circumstances are pitiful and it’s a wonder any of them survive to adulthood. 

different lives

When we interviewed the Moriah young people (KEN06a) there is constant reference back to the importance of the schools on their lives. This cannot be overlooked in the midst of the current crisis they are facing. However, there is a constant battle between educating the masses and doing a better job with a few.  


Partnership's Influence within the Community

It is obvious wherever we go that MCO is still a crucial agent of change in the community. There is a constant stream of people coming into the facility related to the loan programme, the education programmes and donors. While we were there for 4 or 5 hours the offices were constantly buzzing with visitors. 

However, much of the good work could be undone by not addressing some of the glaring holes. They depend so much on the goodwill of the teachers, some of whom had not been paid for three months.  


Plans for the Future

changing livesThis is difficult. They are in crisis, a number of their people are under real stress. The line “God will provide” is getting pretty tiresome when they are not making strategic decisions to respond responsibly. It’s easy to understand that they are in a bind but, somehow, they have to be prepared to listen to some voices of reason. There is still so much need around them and it’s easy to see it and understand why it’s so hard to say no to people in need. 

If the food stops next year there will be some real challenges we need to be aware of. Potentially some change may be forced on them. 

They have had a loan programme operating now for some time sponsored by Bright Hope International. This is one of the programmes referred to in my comments below. Many of the families are participating and it’s a great blessing to these families. One strategy they could adopt would be to transfer the feeding responsibility to those families who now have increased resources. However I suspect they would struggle to take that level of strategic dialogue for fear of losing students. We talked with the woman running that programme. She is very switched on and capable and based in the offices. 

The reality is that if we pulled out it would be a major blow and we are not suggesting that we leave as there is a power of good being done. We suggest that we stick to the same budget but keep talking to them about a different way forward. 


Current Issues and Challenges

The World Food Organisation is currently providing the raw materials for the meals provided to the children at the schools. Unfortunately, they have indicated that they will be pulling out at the end of this year. This will significantly increase costs for MCO. 


Prayer and Praise Points

1) Pray for the ongoing debt and funding challenges. These are very difficult issues and may require a dramatic change to the direction and management of MCO.
2) Praise God for the hundreds of children who are educated, given hope and introduced to Jesus through MCO.
3) The issue of feeding the children is major and we need to pray for a breakthrough, either with someone picking up the funding or finding a new way to manage this issue.
4) The impact of the loan programmes is great and needs to continue.
5) The good people they have working with them. There are some people of great character and perseverance in trying circumstances.
6) There are ongoing political issues in Kenya and Mathare is a hotbed of violence and conflict. Pray for peace in the area. 



We cannot fall into the trap of owning their whole vision. We can only do what is within our capacity and I think we are doing as much as we can. There is obviously a lot of good going on and they are catalysts for positive change in the community but they face issues re getting their house in order.

Most of our time with the MCO trustees and management was spent discussing the funding issues they are facing. There is an integrity issue by making deductions from employees’ wages but not paying those deductions to where they are supposed to be paid.

They don’t seem able to make the required (from our perspective) decisions necessary to get the ministry onto a stronger, sustainable footing. It is very obvious that they are overstretched. A number of their financial partners are doing things through them, not all bad, but they are not core business for MCO-OCC. This places extra pressures on them and gives them less flexibility about where the incoming funds can be used. 

I suspect that these funding issues will not be able to be resolved until MCO reduces its ministries to ensure that it has sufficient capacity and funding.

They have a massive debt which is growing by the day. We do not think it is our role to bail them out, nor to just agree to another income generation activity that is flawed as that would be putting good money after bad. They have monthly statutory payments they have to make. Every spare shilling goes into that, leaving them cash strapped in all other areas. There is not a spare shilling left over to the point that many teachers are months behind in salary payments and many key people are not being paid at the agreed rates, including themselves.