Renowned former television actress and a hotelier, Carol Anami has started a day care centre to cater for the less fortunate children in the sprawling Maweni slum in Nyali Constituency, Mombasa County.
Carol who featured in popular television programme Arosto as 'Dixie' that aired o K24 TV and as 'Shonett' on Habibu which featured on Citizen television has started the Ngarisha Youth Centre that offers several outreach programme for the youth and children.
''I live within the proximity of a large informal settlement that houses children from poor families and decided to lend a helping hand,'' she told The Standard in an interview over the weekend.
Carol said that together with well-wishers they have been able to offer short courses on welding and fabrication, hairdressing and beauty and basic skills in food production.
''Alongside the courses, we have a feeding programme on Saturdays and also conduct training in computer graphics design and mat stitching,'' she said.
Carol has rented a bungalow which she has converted into a holding centre where the outreach programme courses are rolled out.
On the day we visited the centre, Carol who had just returned from an overseas visit was busy playing with children who had thronged the home.
''I feel highly indebted to try and help my immediate neighbours. Some people think I am crazy spending quality time playing games with children as young as three-years-old,'' she said.
Two beneficiaries of the programme who were among the first to join in 2010, Lennox Ochieng’, now 17 years and form three student at Halifax Secondary School and Elvis Bwire, 16 and a form one student at Maweni Secondary School are full of praise for 'Aunty Carol' support.
'' We live in an area that is known to harbour all sorts of bad elements in the society. There are serious issues here of drug addiction, prostitution and unwanted pregnancies,'' they said.
Ochieng said that when he learnt of the existence of the Centre, he wasted no time and joined.
'' I am a completely changed person. Even my parents are proud that I never backtracked and started doing bad things. My good upbringing is due to my enrolment at this centre,'' he said.
Carol said that growing up next to the informal settlement, she would be saddened at the sight of young children crying for help outside her home.
There was this girl whose age I put at 15 and whom I used to see in tattered school uniforms pass by my premises each morning as she made her way to the local primary school. She would then disappear for about a year before emerging with a baby strapped on her back.
''This made me to move into action. I fetched out for her and inquired whose baby she was carrying. She told me she had dropped out of class six after being made pregnant by an older boy who raped her,'' Carol said.
She said that she comforted the girl and started taking care of her from that day until her relatives who used to stay upcountry come for her and her baby.
''Such cases of rape are prominent here. Many girls have fallen victims in the past. However, the local administration here has been aggressive and on several occasions come to the rescue of those abused and neglected by their parents. But a lot more needs to be done to ensure that children especially the girl child are safe from sex predators,'' she said.
Carol said that they have been recording a steady in number of children coming to the centre and is appealing to well-wishers to provide material support.
''We need toys, foodstuff, clothing, books and other writing materials to help cater for the increasing needs of those who come to be with us,'' she said.