Mathare Slums

Can you imagine for a moment living in one of the largest slums in Africa?

Can you imagine if you were a single mom with no resources to educate your children and provide them with a life that is any less painful than your own?

Most People in Mathare live in 6 ft. x 8 ft. shanties made of old tin and mud. Most have no beds, no electricity, and no running water. People sleep on pieces of cardboard on the dirt floors of the shanties. There are public toilets shared by up to 100 people and residents have to pay to use them. Those who cannot afford to pay must use the alleys and ditches between the shanties. “Flying toilets” are plastic bags used by the residents at night, then thrown into the Nairobi River, which is the source of the residents’ water supply.

Approximately 600,000 people live in an area of three square miles. Most live on an income of less than a dollar per day. Crime and HIV/AIDs are common. Many parents die of AIDS and leave their children to fend for themselves. Mathare Community Outreach tries to care for as many of these orphans as possible, but their resources are limited.

Thanks to child sponsorship through Orphan Outreach, hope has been given to families in Mathare and lives are being changed. 

Over the next three days I will share what I learned during my time in Mathare, photographing for Orphan Outreach. I look forward to putting your hand in the hand of a child as he walks to a school that has changed his life, give you a tour of Patmos school and take you into the homes of two students.

I hope that your heart will be moved by what you learn and that you will consider sponsoring a child to attend Patmos, a school that is bringing real help, real hope and real change. 

My photographs from the Mathare slums in Nairobi Kenya

I invite you to learn more about Orphan Outreach and consider sponsoring a child at at Patmos School in Kenya

Patmos School


Patmos School offers more than an education to students in grades pre-K through 8th grade in the Mathare Slum of Nairobi, Kenya. It provides Christ-centered counseling, nutritious meals, medical care, and safe haven to orphaned and vulnerable children living in one of Africa’s largest and poorest slums. The goal of Patmos is to break the cycle of poverty that pervades the community.

The children attending Patmos Junior School face unspeakable conditions; they are the victims of gross poverty, crime, violence and the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Unemployment is high in Mathare Slum, and 80% of people survive on casual jobs. As a result, many young children are left unattended during the day while parents are seeking work. The public schools are severely congested and most people cannot afford to send their children to private schools. Patmos provides a safe haven and opportunity for orphaned and vulnerable children to have access to a Christian education, healthcare, and two meals daily. 

Orphan Outreach partners with Patmos, providing strategic planning, best-practice expertise, and support for staff salaries, food, curriculum and books, school supplies, and more. We have also assisted with the purchase of both classrooms and property so that more children may be served by the ministry. Support is provided through sponsorships and church partnerships, and mission teams offer teaching, mentorship, and community outreach to the families of students. 

Patmos School was started in 2007 by Headmaster Richard Wanjala and a group of dedicated local community members residing in Mathare Slum. Mathare is considered to be one of the largest and poorest slums in Africa. It is home to more than half a million people, of which 300,000 are children.

Tomorrow,  in part 2 of my 4 part series of posts, I will introduce you to Collins Monda,  fifteen year old student at Patmos and I will show you around the school. 

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