NAIROBI, Kenya, February 10 – Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) received the 2021 Community Engagement Award from the Volunteer Involving Organization (VIO) in a grand ceremony held at the headquarters of the organization in Kibera.
Presenting the award, VIO Society General Secretary and National Coordinator Fred Sadia said the award was given to SHOFCO for involving grassroots communities in its programmes.
“SHOFCO programs belong to grassroots people. We chose the organization for this award because of its programs that directly touch the lives of the most vulnerable people in slums. These include youth and women empowerment programs,” Sadia said.
He further highlighted SHOFCO’s water program which he said has benefited the people of Kibera and Mathare.
SHOFCO uses a state-of-the-art overhead piping system and has installed a water treatment facility in Kibera that can pump up to 300,000 liters of water at a time to overhead pipes that connect to various water kiosks in shanty towns.
Water is piped to 24 kiosks stationed at strategic points throughout the slums. Members of the Kibera community no longer travel several kilometers in search of the precious commodity.
In receiving the award, SHOFCO Founder and CEO Kennedy Odede recalls his early days when he established the organization.
“Volunteering is power. There are things money can’t buy. When you do something you don’t get paid for, that’s humanity. The reason we have a solid foundation at SHOFCO is that we started with nothing. We were just volunteers in the community,” Odede said.
Odede said he paid school fees for children he did not know and voluntarily bought food for people on the streets.
Odede said he launched the Shofco Urban Network (SUN) program in 2013 as a community networking platform that empowers people to voluntarily solve problems.
“SUN is a volunteer network. We don’t need money to change communities,” he said.
Consolata Odhiambo, founding member of SUN, echoed Odede’s sentiments.
“I’ve seen SHOFCO grow from nothing to something. It’s not about the money, it’s about the love of the community and we thank Odede for the initiative,” she said.
SUN has 2.4 million members across Kenya.
Previous winners of the award include Dr. Manu Chandaria (2017) who received it for his philanthropic work both in business and in the community.
The 2018 award went to Madame Joyce of Murang’a County for her exemplary work in supporting older people in the community and in 2019 the society also recognized volunteers from East and Southern Africa.
Mombasa County received the Society’s 2020 Volunteer COVID-19 Response Award.
VIO Society works in partnership with the State Department for Social Welfare.