100 sewing machines in Mathare are tools of hope and opportunity for women to make a better future

한정찬 기자l승인2021.03.24

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▲ I love Africa / President Lee Chang-ok

Mathare is a collection of slums in Nairobi, Kenya. It is known as one of the worst slums in Africa. About 90% of the people in Mathare are illiterate and they are exposed to disease, violence and crime. Some say that it is just a miracle that they are surviving day by day in that condition of life.

I Love Africa is a South Korean non-government organization donating 100 sawing machines to women in Mathare. Lee Chang-ok, who founded I Love Africa in 2011, has been engaging in various charity events in Africa: housing, drinking water, food and medicine for children, education, etc.  

Teenage girls in Mathare have to live single mother and educational opportunity is scarce. A 2013 population report of Kenya shows that 103 per 1,000 pregnancy is girls between 15 and 19 and around 93% women between 15 and 24 were involved in prostitution, drugs, trafficking and abusing. 

Kenya’s formal education system is 8 years in primary, 4 years in secondary and another 4 years in university. Teens in Mathare are so poor that most of them cannot afford after primary. There are 796 vocational schools in Kenya but many of them are experiencing lack of money, equipment and facilities. 

Kibera, a neighborhood from 6.6 kilometers of the central Nairobi, is the biggest slump in Africa. Several families live under one roof without no water, sewage and toilet and the toxic smells from urine and feces cover the houses and streets. Almost 100% residents are jobless, men are suffering from HIV and AIDS, involved in sexual violence, robbery, drugs, and children find food in the waste. 

“Mathare seems to be hopeless for many. But we are using sewing machines for women to do something for better. We think it is important for the women there to learn a skill or two to be independent. It will not only help them financially but also the national economy” says I Love Africa president Lee Chang-ok.

I Love Africa donated 100 sewing machines in partnership with lawmakers in the constituency. For people in developed countries, sewing machines seem to be trivial. For women in Mathare, sewing machines are the tools of hope and opportunity to make a better future. PowerKorea


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