Christy Gillmore

Christy Gillmore (Hakijamii the Economics and Social Rights Centre): Christy received her BA in Anthropology and Economics in 2006 from the University of Virginia. Upon graduating, she joined the Peace Corps in Mali, West Africa, where she worked to empower women in a rural community. After returning from the Peace Corps, Christy worked in refugee resettlement as a health care coordinator and caseworker. At the time of her fellowship she was pursuing her MA in International Development and Social Change from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. After her fellowship, Christy wrote: “I had never lived in a big city in my life, and this experience opened my eyes to the immense inequalities that are growing due to globalization and rural-urban migration. I feel that I gained invaluable skills and confidence. I feel like I have gained writing and editing skills. I know that I want to focus on human rights now that I have experience of working in the field."

The Ladder That Runs Down

23 Jun

The following is a short video about Ngazi Ya Chini, a group that was established in order to fight for the rights of the railway dwellers who have been facing possible eviction since 2004 due to a railway expansion project. The video speaks for itself, and for more in depth history, read Louis’s blog.

Ngazi Ya Chini means “the ladder that runs down,” referring to the railroad tracks.


Hakijamii has been on the frontlines of the railway eviction process, providing community groups with the expertise and tools to be able to claim their rights in the relocation process.

Posted By Christy Gillmore

Posted Jun 23rd, 2010


  • Rick

    June 24, 2010


    Very interesting video, and nicely done, by the way! Your video leaves me wondering – what is your place in this whole railroad eviction conflict? Do you help these people try to stand up against the government (is it the government or the railroad?) to try and avoid being kicked off their land? Is that the role of Hakijamii, and if so, how does an organization like that typically fair in a country like Kenya? Does the government view your organization as a threat, or are they willing to work with you to find a solution for such problems?

    • Christy Gillmore

      June 24, 2010


      Thanks for the great questions. Hakijamii, and several other like-minded NGOs, serve as a link between the people and the government. Because the decision to evict or properly relocate comes down to the government, Hakijamii helps communities fight back. They try to lobby and get legislation changed (there is some pending eviction guidelines legislation now) and to get that legislation enforced. They empower communities to stand up for their rights. It definitely is tricky, but Hakijamii takes a less antagonistic approach, and instead tries to work with the government to change things. In theory the government wants to help these people- it after all doesn’t want negative attention and recognizes the fact that so many of its people are living in substandard conditions. But in practice things are different, and there’s a lot of corruption and greed that gets in the way. It’s tough work, but there are good people out there trying to do good things.

  • Christa

    June 25, 2010


    Nice work on the moving mini-documentary. I’m glad you get to be part of something positive where there is much injustice. On an unrelated note, how does Kenya compare to Mali, culture-wise? How do you like advocacy work? Peace!

    • Christy Gillmore

      June 25, 2010


      Thanks Christa! Kenya is much more developed than Mali and there are so many entrepreneurs with successful businesses. There is a lot more money here, but a lot more inequality (whereas in Mali, everyone was poor pretty much). Most people are literate and somewhat educated here. Ethnicity also plays a big role. They are less animated than Malians, though the same generosity and willingness to be hospitable are there. However, I have only been in Nairobi and therefore haven’t seen what life in rural areas is like, which I’m sure is very different.

  • DJ

    July 4, 2010


    I was awed by the video of the Kenya RR running through such an extensive Nairobi slum, and seeing the work of activists demanding recognition of the himanity of the people living in its path. I was touched to hear your voice asking questions.

    Was the track in the video built during the displacements a decade ago, or is that what you are talking about now? How can people live that close to the tracks without constant deaths from being hit?

    I love your statement: “It’s tough work, but there are good people out there trying to do good things.” It reminds me of my belief that no matter how much misery there is, or how much people are put down, sooner or later the human spirit rises up to improve things. Thanks for sharing the Spirit!

    • Christy Gillmore

      July 5, 2010


      Thanks for your wonderful comments and questions. The track was built a long time ago before people lived there. People slowly moved there- many many years ago- because of the access that the railroad had to town. They have lived there ever since, and parts of the railway were cleared in 1988 and 1995 (the former evictions that the video talks about). I’m not sure of the details, but I think they moved the people so that the railway was clear and could run faster (and was safer). They tried to evict them again in 2005- for some of the same reasons, but also to expand the railway. After taking them to court, the railway agreed to only take 5.2 meters on each side instead of 30. Then there were some derailments and many people died (I believe the biggest happened during the post-election violence in 2007), so that is why the railway now wants 30 meters on each side. It’s definitely not safe for them to be living right along the line like that, but they have not been given alternatives, which is what they are fighting for now. I hope that clears things up! I’ts been difficult trying to wrap my head around the whole thing.

  • Mary Virginia

    July 13, 2010


    The music was incredible on that video. Can you tell me what the estimated cost would be to fairly relocate everyone from the train line? or how much it would cost approximately per person or family to relocate? What kind of numbers are we talking about here?

  • […] all too common threat of eviction. I have touched on the problem of forced evictions in Kenya (see The Ladder That Runs Down, Eviction Task Force) due to poor land and housing policies. In the 1950s, an Indian family owned […]

  • […] story behind Ngazi Ya Chini can be found on Christy’s and Louis’ […]

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