Charities and non-profit organisations come in all shapes and sizes. Some of them are large, established, influential, international. Think World Vision, Oxfam. At the other end of the scale are the small, local operations, driven by the passion and commitment of a founder (or two), a small band of volunteers, a personal connection to the cause or the place or the people and communities that their work is targeting.
Of course, not all of these small operations are sustainable in the long term, and some don’t survive the initial enthusiasm. So the fact that the Canada-Mathare Education Trust will be celebrating its tenth anniversary this year tells you something about the organization, about the energy and commitment of its founding members – still deeply involved, a decade later – and the creativity and sheer hard work of its loyal band of volunteers.
Mathare is the second largest slum in Nairobi, Kenya, an often-overlooked sidebar to the problems of deprivation and poverty that the world associates with its larger sibling, Kibera, which is the largest urban slum not only in Nairobi but in the whole of Africa.
Kibera of course cries out for – and receives – a lot of attention, from charities, non-profits, international agencies and governments. But Mathare, with its population of between half a million and 800,000 people crammed into a sliver of land 2km by 0.3km, is also in need, and receives far less attention and support from the major agencies and actors.
The CMETrust is a scarce resource in a place that has few resources to start with, offering 4-year scholarships to over 120 secondary school students since 2006, and supporting the ambitions of the lucky few who are able to proceed to higher education. In addition to money, training and counselling, CMETrust offers hope and opportunity, not only for the students who pass through its hands but for their families and community.
Which brings us to the other, vitally important – indeed, fundamental – part of the equation: the value that the Mathare community places on the contribution that the CMETrust makes to improving their lives. Without the community’s support, and without the positive impact that CMETrust is having on the lives of young people, the Trust would be not much more than a vanity project – or worse, an exercise in futility.
But the CMETrust is neither of these things. It is a small, passionate community of people in both Canada and Kenya who want to make a difference in the world, who are making a difference, and whose ambition to expand the Trust’s outreach, so that more young people from the Mathare slum can have just some of the benefits and opportunities that we enjoy here in Canada, deserve to be supported.
To find out how you can help change the world, one child at a time, visit the CMETrust website, at http://cmetrust.org