82% progress
$15,142 raised
Goal $18,470

The Challenge

Mukuru kwa Ruben (also known as the Ruben Slum) was born in Nairobi’s Industrial district approximately 35 years ago when people began to build make-shift homes near the factories they worked in. The area now has a population of over 600,000 and many families live in corrugated iron shacks measuring 10 x 10 feet.

Many of Mukuru kwa Ruben’s occupants work as casual labourers in the manufacturing industries situated close to the slum. Others operate small-scale businesses selling vegetables and fruit or hawking various items. Earnings are low and often inadequate to feed their families. As a consequence, their children often look to other means of survival such as prostitution, drug peddling, begging and criminal activities.

There are many health related issues within the area, and the most common diseases include malaria, typhoid, dysentery, tuberculosis and AIDS. Malnutrition is also common. This is primarily related to the high cost of food in relation to the low family income. Any medical facilities are beyond the reach of most of the residents.

Many children are engaged in petty productive work to supplement basic family needs. Child labour in Mukuru includes hawking, petty trade, transportation using carts and household work.

How We’re Helping

Palms Australia has been working closely with The Ruben Centre, a community organisation that provides quality education, health, financial and social services to children and families in Nairobi’s Mukuru community.

In 2018 and 2019, experienced physiotherapist Laura Saldanha will be working closely with local clinic staff to establish a neonatal and antenatal physiotherapy program.

Over her year at The Ruben Centre, Laura’s assistance will:

    • Add specialised skills to the organisation’s health team;
    • Improve the skills of the Centre’s existing occupational therapist and bring new insights into the management of patients, particularly children with disability;
    • Expand the allied health program into the slum to reach adults and older children who are unable to reach the Centre;
    • Collaborate with the Association of People with Disabilities Kenya to develop methods for reaching more people with disability within the community;
    • Build capacity for the addition of a local physiotherapist.

Is the Project Sustainable?

The volunteer Physiotherapist will mentor and support local health staff to improve their physiotherapy skills and demonstrate the power it has to make a difference in the lives of local young people. Having access to a qualified Physiotherapist will also provide local children with disability (who would otherwise have limited access to health care) with treatment of health conditions and mobility impairments that will improve their longer-term wellbeing.


The amount raised includes the volunteer’s living and accommodation expenses, which have kindly been covered by the host community.

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