Dandora is a neighborhood on the east side of Nairobi known for its dirt, dust dilapidation and crime. Mustard Seeds is slowly changing that and has begun to revitalise its community "courts" (small plots of barren land) by clearing them of debris, improving drainage, landscaping and planting, and involving the local community in its maintenance and improvement. With Awesome Foundation support, the group will create the first revitalised, green space in Dandora, to serve as a model of many to come.
"We are changing the perception of our abandoned community spaces by transforming our courts, which have been turned into dumping places, into a clean and rehabilitated community spaces, by creating landscaped gardens, with the participation of neighbourhood youth, children, and the community. Our intention is to safeguard our environment, while empowering local youth through environmental and entrepreneurial activities in the society."
This includes re-digging the old drainage system buried underneath the ground decades earlier, which significantly improves the flow of rainwater and waste. It also includes tree planting, grass landscaping, flowering and gardening. So far, to clear the land, the group has used its own labour and sourced materials little by little, making good progress and creating a strong foundation with no external financial support. The pilot court space currently has several trees and a grass patch, as well as a functioning drainage system.
These efforts are creating the only such community-protected, safe, green spaces in a large and isolated neighbourhood that borders a dumpsite, is littered by waste itself, and is crime-ridden where youth normally have few opportunities & little vision beyond what's immediately in front of them.
Long term, the group hopes to make these spaces self-sufficient, developing ways within the estate to generate income from hiring the space for events & weddings, as well as to create as many jobs as possible through organized income-generating activities in the estate, while helping youth members find ways to develop themselves further.
Funded by Nairobi (January 2014)