Since Mngaro Mtaani was founded in 2013, I have dreamt of a world where everyone dresses smartly since they say, you are addressed by the way you dress.
Millions of people share the love for looking smart, but with the high cost of living, clothing ceases to become a necessity as people focus on the more urgent needs such as food and shelter. I urge everyone, now more than ever, to continue putting effort till we reach our ultimate common goal; dignified dressing for everyone. Together let’s value the vulnerable in society.
The Dandora landfill on the side of Korogocho’s slum is not the birthplace of success stories. Samuel Torez Omoll was nine years old when his parents and youngest sister passed away in a road accident, leaving him and his younger sister orphaned. The two were then separated as one of his aunts took in his sister while he went to live with another aunt in Korogocho. Life was hard in the slums and in several instances, Samuel, and his aunt who was a single mum, and her child would go to bed hungry. His aunt did menial jobs such as washing clothes in neighboring estates. Juggling between paying for their one-roomed house and buying food, she could barely make ends meet. It wasn’t long before Samuel was drawn to the nearby Dandora dumpsite in search of food.
He would go to scavenge for food that had been thrown there, therefore missing school on many occasions as he spent most of his time at the dumpsite. Together with his friends at the dumpsite, they ended up in a gang and the dumpsite became their home. They survived by recycling scrap metal which would later be sold at a small fee and after a while, they started stealing clothes from other workers at the dumpsite which they would later sell at the nearby Korogocho market. Samuel was able to complete his schooling through the help of donor organizations and attained a Diploma in Mass Communication. He is a philanthropist with a big heart for coming back to society. In 2016, Samuel started an initiative dubbed ‘Mngaro Mtaani’ to give back to the community.
Through a Facebook page and word of mouth, he started mobilizing resources in the form of clothing, beddings, and household materials and later distributes them in slum areas. He always wanted to give back because he understood the challenges of slum dwellings, having been brought up there. Not many make it out and become successful, as he did. Most of them die young while others move to the city center to become street urchins. He kick-started the initiative by donating his and his family’s clothes. The following day he saw those who he had donated clothes to walking confidently in the clothes and was overjoyed. He rushed back to where he used to live and put up a poster asking other tenants to donate what they longer needed. Within a matter of hours, he had six sacks of clothes. Mngaro Mtaani is not just about resource mobilization and distribution but it’s also about others succeeding in life, he says. He hopes to open a resource center where life skills, career insights, and vocational training will be given.