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My story as World Women’s Observatory’s Ambassador

The touching encounter with Diana, a young mum in the Kibera slum

By Sr. Maureen Ogundeph

Kibera is a division of the Nairobi AreaKenya, and the neighborhood of the city of Nairobi, 6.6 kilometers (4.1 mi) from the city center. It is the largest slum in Nairobi and the largest urban slum in Africa. 


Most Kibera slum residents live in extreme poverty, unemployment rates are high. Cases of assault and rape are common. There are few schools, and most people cannot afford education for their children. Clean water is scarce. Diseases caused by poor hygiene are prevalent. A great majority living in the slum lack access to basic services, including electricity, running water, and medical care.

The Government initiated a clearance program to replace the slum with a residential district of high-rise apartments and to relocate the residents to these new buildings upon completion and they are still under construction


My mission as an Ambassador of the WWO

As an ambassador of the World Women’s Observatory whose aim is to give visibility to women, especially the most vulnerable who seem to be invisible, both in terms of their suffering and their potential I feel called to respond to the silent and loud cry of these women.


A touching story of help

The life story of Diana, a 33-year-old lady with two sets of twins, made me very emotional. I first met her with her 9-year-old twin girls who are blind in October 2022. We were visiting the women in Kibera in the company of Monsignor Jose Antonio the former Secretary of the Nuncio in Kenya and Patricio Caruso the World Women’s Observatory Consultant. Diana was moving with her beloved blind girls pulling them with tenderness and compassion towards a very narrow corridor where they had a small room for which served them as a residence. I moved towards Diana, talked to her, and took her contact.

Diana then narrated to me how her daughters became blind “They were born premature and they stayed in the incubator at nursery for a duration of 3 months.”

The doctor confirmed to her that their brains were spoilt in the incubator at the nursery because they used oxygen for a long time which spoilt the veins in the brain that are connected to the eyes which I don't understand how this could this happen since the incubators are supposed to be safe for the babies. One of the twins speaks though it is not clear but she can express herself, another one does not speak and uses gestures to express herself.

Despite her poverty and pain, she was serene and very receptive, I then started to keep in touch with her to share with her and to listen to her, at times I could engage the Catholic women, and other Laywomen around to help me find ways to assist Diana who is not only in need of basic needs like food, shelter, clothing but also a listening ear to share her experience and her day to day life.

Through visiting Diana this year in November, I discovered that Diana has nothing to sustain her, she has 4 children. She got the first two twin boys when she was still a teenager in school, one has just done her final exam in Primary school, and he is sure to pass his exams but he does not know if he will manage to get the necessities required to join the secondary school. The other twin has dropped out of school, being that the lifestyle is also very demanding for him.

Diana prays and hopes that one day she will get a small capital to start a simple activity that can sustain her and help her take care of her children.

In my mission to give visibility to women like Diana, whose stories are often overlooked, I've found that the act of helping, listening, and being there for them has transformed not just their lives, but mine as well.

As I continue my journey as an ambassador, I understand that the impact goes beyond tangible assistance; it's about empowering women, giving them a voice, and fostering a sense of community and understanding. The World Women’s Observatory's mission has become a catalyst for personal and collective growth, reminding me that true change happens when we stand together to support and uplift those who need it the most.


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