Meet Jecinter Otieno, A Volunteer Supporting Caregivers To Thrive

Jecinter Otieno is 32 years old, married with three children, Vilmah (15), Nicole (11), and Brighton (8). She lives in the slums of Mukuru kwa Njenga with her family. Her husband is a trained mason who does odd jobs which when he can find work, he helps to support the family.

From 2000, her husband was unemployed for 6 years and she became the sole breadwinner. It was very difficult to provide for her family’s needs. Her only source of income was from washing clothes occasionally in her neighborhood. She was dependent on her church, the Nairobi Christian Church, to pay school fees for her children and provide access to medical services. The church, working jointly with HOPE worldwide Kenya, runs the Kenya Kids program for children from poor families who need assistance. The Kenya Kids Program is a child sponsorship program supported by individual donors from the international churches of Christ specifically, the triangle church of Christ in the US. The funds support vulnerable children in its sister churches in East Africa.

Jecinter at her workstation in the Center of HOPE Mukuru

Jecinter and her husband started volunteering in the program and soon moved to other programs helping their community. Through her volunteer work, she has gained new skills that have enabled her to offer support to her community in HIV prevention, psychosocial support, economic empowerment, start income generating projects and peer education. With the training and experience she has gained, she now works with about 42 support group in the community in the area of economic empowerment.

Working in the slums can be challenging.  During the rainy season it is muddy, which makes it difficult to access some area during home visits. There are also a lot of security issues, which do not allow for free movement in the slum.

Jecinter says “I am so grateful for everything I have learnt in my volunteer work. I am now more informed.  I have learnt that there is no situation that is permanent.  Many caregivers working with orphans and vulnerable children who received training in helping communities with income generating activities are no longer in the same status they were some years back. We should not limit ourselves as I have seen myself grow from one stage to another. What matters most is to have a positive attitude”.

"In conclusion, my dreams are to see that the whole community embraces the attitude of supporting each other in order to have empowered communities.”

HOPE worldwide Kenya is also a proud member of the Volunteers Involving Organizations (VIO) Society in Kenya. The network/society is made up of organizations that work in development through or with volunteers and that actively promotes volunteerism as a means to development.