As a teenager, Kennedy Odede started SHOFCO (Shining Hope for Communities) in 2004 with 20 cents and a soccer ball. Growing up in Kibera, Kenya, one of the largest slums in Africa, he experienced extreme poverty, violence, lack of opportunity, and deep gender inequality. Odede dreamed of transforming urban slums, from the inside-out.
SHOFCO, based in Nairobi, Kenya, provides critical services that disrupt survival mode — giving people the opportunity to not just survive, but thrive. SHOFCO’s programs, which include health care, economic empowerment, and sustainable delivery of clean water through a cutting-edge aerial piping system, are always demand-driven and community led.
Through its education programs for girls, SHOFCO empowers the future female leaders who will ultimately transform the structures that keep urban poverty in place.
What began as a grassroots movement in Kibera by Kennedy in 2004 has ignited transformation and hope in six Kenyan informal settlements, reaching more than 220,000 people.
“The jury’s selection of SHOFCO to receive the 2018 Hilton Humanitarian Prize really speaks to the power of local actors,” said Hilton Foundation President and CEO Peter Laugharn. “SHOFCO is a remarkable example of citizen-led change, created by people living in very challenging conditions. As Africa and the world urbanize and more informal settlements are created, SHOFCO provides an inspiring example of local creativity and solutions.”
In a recent opinion piece in the New York Times, Odede wrote: “Flint (Mi.) and Kibera are reminders that the power of politics is the people. The process of organizing will bring forth the leaders who can truly represent their communities and push for change, whether or not those leaders hold political office.
“We should look first to our neighborhoods, towns, schools, churches, mosques, and temples to identify the leaders who represent our needs and values. Empower them, and the politicians will follow suit.”
SHOFCO will receive $2 million in unrestricted funding, joining the list of 22 previous organizations that have received the Hilton Humanitarian Prize over the last two decades including most recently, The Task Force for Global Health and Landesa.
For more information, visit shofco.org.
—Information provided by the Global Information Network