Why I am in love with Africa, Korean lady

Chag Ok-Lee, the Korean lady philanthropist who has distributed hundreds of singer sewing machines to Kibra residents, during the interview in Nairobi recently.
When I found 67-year-old Chang Ok Lee, a Korean national, at a baptism ceremony in the traditional Roho Israel Church in Kibera, my interest was piqued. What was a South Korean national doing at the baptism of a one-year-old baby at the heart of Kibera slums?


I am a born again Christian who works with the residents of Kibera and although I am not a member of this church, I was invited by the child’s grandmother who is among the many people I serve in Kibera.

I first came to Kenya in 2005 as President of Christian Multimedia Mission and I also toured Tanzania and South Africa for a documentary depicting life in poor areas. I used these to get assistance for these residents back home in Korea.

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The broadcasts helped change the way South Koreans think of Africa as a hostile land overran by conflict to one where people are kind and loving.

Kibera in particular stands out due to its scarcity of toilets and I wanted to build some as a starting point to improve the residents lot. That initiative however, floundered when land was not forthcoming.

I nonetheless refused to give up and fell back to a craft that had worked perfectly for Korea in the per-affluence days. Mothers had to sew clothes to feed, clothe and educate their children in a practice christened ‘Saemaul’ which means working together.

Saemaul created openings once not thought of and paved the way for Koreans to support themselves.

I brought this same sewing project to Kibera. I set up a business enterprise model in the slum complete with an incubation centre in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program and the County Government of Nairobi.

Besides Kibera where I have distributed over 100 sewing machines, I have distributed 30 sewing machines at the Jam City Slum in Athi River and built a community centre complete with a community toilet incorporating an M-Pesa shop and an office that houses the area’s assistant chief.

Today, the I love Africa crusade has a presence in all corners of the continent and empowers widows and other deserving groups.

We also provide child welfare services, access to clean drinking water where it is hard to come by, medical treatment and give relief food.

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KiberaChang Ok LeeKorean