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Changing mind-sets through transformation of neglected spaces

The youth in Dandora have been for six years now, under an umbrella body dubbed Dandora Transformation League (DTL), transforming neglected public spaces. This transformation is driven by the need to change the mind-sets of the youths in and out of Dandora. Known for its gigantic mountain of a dumpsite and assumed by many as an epicentre of crime and drugs and substance abuse, this once infamous estate is being quickly converted into a gated community by DTL to contain (in) security issues.

Evans Otieno during his interview with Mobile Journalism Africa

The league, headed by mostly reformed criminals and former users of drugs, is making parks and playgrounds (for children) out of dumpsites and abandoned spaces. As at now, Evans Otieno, the chairman of Believer’s court, explains that eight parks have been created. All the materials used as seats and flower pots were made from disposed items.

“The goal is to create a park in every court,” said Evans during his interview with Mobile Journalism Africa team.

When the founders of DTL pitched the idea to the community, it was quickly given a nod.

“Each household contributes KES 100 which goes to security, maintenance and savings,” clarified Evans.

They also have a parking lot from which they charge each vehicle KES 150.

It is such collections that they use to pay the youths who each Saturday engage in the sweeping of the streets. Other sources of income include levies on photo and video shoots in the parks.

The park at Believer’s court has fruit trees and animals.

“Kids around here can come for sight-seeing. Most of them only learn about them in school and have no idea of what they look like,” Evans added.

The community based organization has planted trees along the streets as well as dust bins at strategic points. Having benefited, in terms of employment over 3000 youths, DTL believes that to change mind-sets, they have to transform the hood first.

Ochieng' Obunga, a Writer at large, is the founding Chief Editor of Mobile Journalism Africa.

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