Lara and the 'fortune given back' to abused mothers in Kenya

An Italian psychotherapist in the slums of Nairobi

06-01-2024 by Freddie del Curatolo

I am happy to meet Lara Aiello.
In my wandering around Kenya as a diviner of stories, true characters and special souls, I have met dozens of Italians who have dedicated and dedicate a good part of their lives to the weakest and most disadvantaged or, as those with unmotivated guilt 'less fortunate' summarise. One could argue at length about the concept of luck, which I usually mean in its meaning in line with the Latin one: 'fate'.

In fact, it is already wrong, simplistic and generalising to lump together Kenyans who undoubtedly need a helping hand, to call them 'last' and put them all on the same level. Their 'fortunes' are so many and so different, even though they almost all stem from poverty, that a distinction should be made, as with Rino Gaetano's 'only child brothers'.
There are the exploited, the downtrodden, the hated, the poorly paid, the subjugated, the frustrated, the mocked and robbed, the repressed, the disaffected, and so on, singing the painful ballad.
That is why of all the Italians who have to do with solidarity that I have happened to interview, I am left with those who, even before helping, want to know.

Those who enter the context, in this case, immerse themselves in reality and try to understand.
Not least because it would be a serious mistake, the child of a somewhat classist presumption, to consider destitute children, abused women, stray youths, abandoned elderly people, all the same just because they are united by the immense and misleading African setting.
Lara Aiello is one of these deep and light souls at the same time, because it also takes lightness, optimism as well as passion to dedicate oneself to the 'fortunes' of others.

The psychotherapist and social worker, who has been working for years particularly with abused mother-girls in the slums of Nairobi, does not just comfort the young girls, but finds reasons for redemption with them.
Not only that (and this is one of the most uplifting stories I want to tell you), Lara has joined the Koinonia project, created by that volcano of enlightened social outlook that answers to the name of Father Kizito Sesana, and has contributed to ensuring that the word 'fortune' does not remain nailed to its original lemma, but becomes social redemption.

I am happy to meet Lara, Father Kizito and the Salama Craft Community Centre.
Yes, because among the many events that Lara witnessed and wanted to investigate in order to understand how to really add value to her social commitment, there is the Salama project.
Lara came into contact, in the Kibera slum, with Mulli and Samuel, two street children from Father Kizito's project.
The two, at the age of seven, were wandering the streets of Nairobi, feeding mostly on rubbish and surviving as stray dogs.
The only solace in their existence, which seemed irretrievably marked and which no amount of help could change, was being together, in the despair of that destiny marked by misery and abandonment.

Mulli and Samuel always felt like brothers, and in total abjection they kept the flame of hope burning thanks to this strong feeling.
They were never able to be re-integrated into their families and lived together in a shelter and, thanks to the Italian priest's project, they were able to study and became street workers, returning to the very place where their 'luck' met a stronger and more aware one.
From the alleys and hovels of Kibera, Mulli and Samuel decided. Through Koinonia, to 'give back their luck to the community', as Lara, who has joined them in coordinating the Salama Craft Community Centre, puts it. Lara is also helped in this by her Italian friends, Chiara, Cristina and Ferdinando.
In Kibera, the very young mothers, victims of abuse, are between 13 and 17 years old, often when they become pregnant they are thrown out of the family, despite the fact that the parent is almost always an ex-girlfriend mother, and their children are destined for a life very similar to that of the two former street children.

This is what Mulli and Samuel want to avoid and what Lara volunteers her time on every day.
"If the circuit is not broken, through the teaching of caring and through love, abandonment can only perpetuate neglect. These girls are almost all victims of abuse, the slum is fierce," explains the Italian psychotherapist, recounting that the adolescents she cares for are sometimes forced into prostitution to buy food or basic necessities. Thus the thought is instilled that having a child is a drama, a disfigurement of fate, one comes to hate them and abandon them'.

Salama means "quiet, safe", the project of the two "street brothers" is aimed at "redeeming" the young mothers, giving them a protected place where they can talk and feel welcome, have a meal for themselves and their children, and at the same time take courses to learn a job (hairdressing, catering, housekeeping). In this way they can make themselves economically independent and escape the fate of the slum.
Lara, who with Mulli and Samuel is changing the meaning of the word 'fortune', knows that it is the only way for single mothers to give theirs to their children.

TAGS: kizitokiberasocialeslumnairobi

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