DEFYING ALL ODDS TO BECOME A HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER

Purity Wairimu never imagined that she would become a human rights defender having grown up in a community scared with an apathetic attitude. She was born and raised in City Carton, an informal settlement located near the Wilson Airport, Nairobi, Kenya.

The settlement which was demolished in May 2013 has been subjected to forced eviction in the past and the residents are still facing an imminent threat of forced eviction.

“Not ready for another home,” says Purity Wairimu … Her extended families have lived here side by side for decades. They have built houses passed down through generations. This is a place she has lived for the best part of her life, but evictions are threatening to make it a thing of the past, darkening all her childhood memories.

The sound of bulldozers slowly crashing through houses has sadly become part of the young Human Right Defender’s (HRD) life.

In most developing countries it’s the poor like Wairimu that pay the price of high-end development. Contrary to most youth in her community who have fallen into the trap of dangerous alcoholic drinks, Wairimu spends most evenings trying to figure out possible solutions to the ongoing problem.

Purity began to take interest in human rights activism in 2017 after being encouraged by her fellow City Carton neighbor Abishag who is an active human rights defender. She had experienced enough injustices and decided to stand up for her rights when she was evicted, beaten and robbed of her valuables by a group of young unidentified men who were hired to forcibly evict the community. The attempted sexual assault on her by the young men was the last straw.

“Early this year I decide not to seat back and wonder but to stand up as a human rights activist and demand for equal rights. Through Abishag ‘Mama Kijiji’ I got to know the importance of defending human rights. I understood that I have a role in demanding for the right to housing and be ready to defend this right.”

The construction of a road by Kenya Urban Roads Authority would have seen them displaced and their property demolished with no compensation. This became Wairimu’s turning point.

Through working hand in hand with Abishag and other City Carton human rights defenders, Purity now feels empowered and she understands her right to housing.She has since been vocal in condemning rights violations especially those against members of the informal settlement of City Carton.

While her story represents that of many other slum dwellers facing forced evictions, Wairimu believes they can create solutions of their own.

But as a young woman right defender, she faces myriad of challenges. She is vulnerable to attacks from the people carrying out forced evictions. She has been beaten, humiliated and robbed off her valuables. Her fellow youth have also been non-cooperating as they are less disinterested.

Many of her people are losing hope and the evictions are likely to continue.

This is not A NEW story but for Wairimu this is a battle she is not ready to let go. She remains adamant to demand for justice and fight for their rights and this is just how she defines ‘BRAVE’

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