The Ruben Centre

  • Che Hooper


Dozens of mothers line up outside the Ruben Centre, holding their little babies. They file into the Nutrition Clinic, four at a time, where their babies are undressed, weighed, measured, and redressed in the span of less than a minute. It is a well-oiled conveyor-belt like process, and it has to be - there’s no time to waste as more mothers and babies wait outside. The Ruben Centre sees hundreds of babies a day.

Many of these mothers have walked kilometres through the haphazard streets of the Mukuru slums. They walk past compact corrugated iron houses, where families are cooking meals inside on wooden stoves. The smoke filling up the unventilated rooms is bad enough to make their eyes water. Most of these houses do not have electricity. Those that do are connected through live wires that insert directly into the metal walls, meaning that in the rain, touching the sides of these shacks is an electrocution risk. 

Babies slung across their bodies, the mothers navigate unsteady terrain. Careful where they walk lest they step in garbage or faeces (hopefully animal), or trip on a decaying carcass of one of the many deceased animals. When it rains and the water turns the place to mud, it’s like wading through a sewer. 

 The 600,000 people living in the Mukuru slums, located on the outskirts of Nairobi, live below the poverty line. Many have come from far off rural areas of Kenya in search of work in the capital. Unfortunately most of them are uneducated and unskilled, and despite their best efforts, remain jobless. Health literacy is poor and access to healthcare is even poorer. 

How to Cite
Hooper, C. (2020). The Ruben Centre. AMSA Journal of Global Health, 14(1), 36-41. Retrieved from
Feature Articles