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Being at the Ruben Centre is puts a lot into perspective. The steadfast optimism of the people of Mukuru, despite the relentless adversity they face daily, is what makes Ruben such a beacon of hope in an at-times bleak and heartbreaking environment.

It’s as if the very action of entering Ruben’s walls lifts everyone’s spirits for the duration of their visit. Centre Director Brother Frank O’Shea speaks of the “Ruben family”, and this notion of inclusiveness and connectedness within Ruben has been easily discernable for me.  

I am based at the Ruben Medical Clinic for my two-month stay. At home in Melbourne, I have completed my pre-medical studies with a view to start Medical School next year. I also work at St Vincent’s Private Hospital Melbourne, formerly as an Orderly and currently as an Operating Theatre Technician. The hands-on medical experience I’m getting at Ruben Medical Clinic is therefore invaluable; in my first few weeks here I’ve been giving injections, dressing wounds, performing ultrasounds, and otherwise assisting the very busy staff around the clinic. I am learning so much, and will return home with a litany of new skills and knowledge.

More importantly, though, I’ll also take home with me the unparalleled energy and determination displayed by those at the Medical Clinic; both staff and clients alike. I hope I will be able to have a positive influence on the lives of the people of Mukuru in my time here, and leave the Ruben Centre a better place than I found it.




My name is Holly and I am from Vancouver, Canada. Back in Vancouver, I was working as an Aboriginal Supported Child Development Worker. My second job was as a Program Assistant for a company working with individuals who are Autistic and/or have challenging behaviour.

I really enjoy my work and have a passion for working with children and families.  

I was introduced to the Ruben Centre by a friend from Australia. After hearing about it, I wanted to see the Centre first hand and witness the influence and support it is having on the Mukuru Community. When I arrived one of the first things that struck me was the big smiles lighting up the children's faces. I remember members of the "Ruben family" and community talking of the Centre being "an oasis of hope".The more time I've spent here, the deeper is my understanding of the truth of this profound statement and slogan. There are different programs at the Ruben Centre - some of them include: the Medical Clinic, Vocational Training Program, FM Radio Station and Primary school. They continue to reach out, empower, and give the community a sense of hope.

Most of my time at Ruben has been centred around the special needs unit. This program not only benefits the students but the parents as well. Although it's fading there still remains a cultural belief that special needs comes from a curse. This means that individuals are being punished for past mistakes. A support group has been set in place once a week for parents. One of the goals of the special program is to build awareness in the community. I have been working alongside the teachers to help plan and implement lessons, programs and activities. The unit is growing rapidly and at present has forty four children. Thirty six are in the unit on a regular basis with 6 integrated in the main stream class. There are currently 2 teachers, 3 caregivers and a volunteer teacher supporting the children. One of the most inspiring things for me is the children's eagerness to learn. The youngest is around 3 years and the oldest 16 years. They really enjoy their time in the two rooms that make up this special unit. It offers a safe haven for   many from life in the slums.

My hope is that the Ruben Community will continue to grow, empower and bring light to the Mukuru community.

My time in Ruben Centre

Brett Dickinson.

I spent 3 weeks in Nairobi, Kenya volunteering at the Ruben Centre. Admittedly I had tried to expect the worst, having never been to Africa, I was not sure what to expect but knew that life would be harsh and resources be minimal. And this was in many cases how things turned out but in other ways they were also different. Some things were better and some worse but overall an experience with the Ruben Director Br Frank O’Shea is life changing. Your day can turn on a head from visiting and spending time with tiny children screaming in agony from hot water burns to listening to 6 year old children read better than some adults. The Ruben Centre is to the people of the Mukuru slum an oasis. The children cling to you to learn, share and experience you in their lives and they simply want to be there much more than returning to their difficult lives at home. I went with the attitude to quite simply try and “give”. Even telling a joke or putting a smile on a child’s face here is a wonderful experience to have improved their lives that tiny little bit if only momentarily. The apartment available for volunteers visiting the centre is excellent. Situated just ten minutes drive from the school and in a complex with many kind families it is more than comfortable and welcoming for your stay. I met a neighbour who took me to the gym and others who simply invite you in for dinner in their family home.

Go for it! Get out of your comfort zone. Visit Africa and see what you can give and learn about yourself in another world. As Br Frank said many times “don’t settle for something small” an abundance of amazing life shaping experiences are available here to help you grow

Dedicated RISE Team of Teachers


Six months have passed very quickly since my arrival. It seems like a lifetime ago that I walked into the Ruben Centre oasis to be welcomed into the Ruben family, where I have been looked after just as my own family at home in Australia would care for me.

I arrived in Nairobi after working for 2 years in Timor Leste, a small new nation located close to Australia. I have moved from one amazing experience to another. I came to Ruben School to share my professional experience with the teachers and students. After 20 years working in Education in Brisbane Australia, I made the decision to share what I have learned over the years, with communities who invite me to join them. I am both honoured and thankful that I was invited to come to the Ruben Centre.

The goal at Ruben School is to establish good working practices in the RISE (Ruben Improved System of Education) Program, at the foundation level of the school, that will then progress through to the higher levels to enable the best outcome for the students that we, working together as a team, can achieve.

I have the privilege of working with a team of talented teachers who are open to new learning and ideas in education for the benefit the students. We have just completed a three day workshop where new skills were developed and ideas shared. These teachers are building strong teams that will work co-operatively to develop active learning classrooms where students can open their minds to creative, active learning.

I look forward to an exciting year ahead in 2016. A year filled with success built from teamwork, new learnings and shared experience. A time of moulding curious minds seeking to learn and hungry for new challenges. The students who RISE from the kijiji that is Mukuru kwa Ruben are filled with potential and talents just waiting to be released.