Fire Destroys the Lindi School in Kibera Slum

Friends throughout our beloved community are grieving with Friends in Nairobi, Kenya, following a traumatic fire on the evening of Sunday, 24 July, that destroyed the the Lindi School building. We are deeply grateful that no lives were lost in the blaze, but the loss of the school building means both a halt to educational activities and to a feeding program for children in the Kibera slum of Nairobi. For many children connected to the Lindi School, the meal they received on-site was the only meal they had for the day.

Members of Nairobi Yearly Meeting examine the school after the fire.

The Lindi School was founded in 2005 as a joint project of Friends United Meeting and Nairobi Yearly Meeting. Operating under the care of Lindi Friends Church, one of several Quaker Meetings in the Kibera slum, the Lindi School has developed into a ministry of community transformation. John Muhanji, Director of the Africa Ministries Office, describes the Kibera neighborhood as a humble community in which most residents either have low-paying manual jobs or are unemployed and struggling to survive. Most houses in Kibera are built using old iron sheets, wood, and mud walls with tin roofs, and access to clean water is a serious concern.

As Quaker Meetings have grown in Kibera, they have been able to bring both wealthy and disadvantaged people together with a common vision of community transformation. John Muhanji attributes this to the Quaker emphasis on equality and simplicity, which forms a foundation for communities that engage the spiritual gifts of all members. Friends in Kibera have used education to reach young people who would not otherwise have any way into a classroom, to teach them to read and write and give them access to higher paying jobs as well as membership in a caring community.

The school has been growing in recent years and deepening its reputation in the community. Several students have done well at that Lindi School and been able to go on to high school, which has increased the number of children wanting to attend. The need for new space for more classes has been felt, but since this tragic fire, Friends are now needing to focus on how to move forward in the wake of destruction.

While the financial generosity of Friends is always appreciated, this is not currently a fundraising effort. For now, Friends worldwide are simply invited to pray with and for the students of the Lindi School, the teachers and other workers, and the local communities of Friends in Kibera and throughout Nairobi. Members of Nairobi Yearly Meeting, Lindi Friends Board, and FUM are scheduled to meet this week to assess the damage and determine our next steps—pray for these meetings to be filled with wisdom, peace, and hope. We will be putting out more information as these conversations develop.

The Lindi School about 2015.

July 26, 2022