El Kilombo social center is a multipurpose space that is home to a computer lab, lending library, and meeting space for our many gatherings and programs, such as English and Spanish classes, Kids’ Literacy Class and Homework Help, community dinners, workshops, seminars and speaker events. It is the physical space where neighborhood residents can encounter each other, hang out, and participate in programs that meet various needs and desires. It is also the space out of which other collective projects can emerge.
Behind the social center is a public park, which we call “El Hoyo.” There we hold an annual Neighborhood Festival, involving free food, live music and performances, raffles, and kids’ games. In Fall 2006, El Kilombo also offered youth soccer on the field. Now parents and family members organize soccer practice for the youth.
Our social center opened on May 1, 2006, and is located just north of Downtown Durham, in the state of North Carolina.
Faced with unaffordable healthcare costs, the under funding of public health services, and racism and distrust toward patients and their knowledge of their own conditions, our community has created a health commission to increase our own capacity to promote health. With the aim of establishing a regular health clinic, the health commission has set up free medical consultations and basic care by qualified medical personnel at our social center every other month. We emphasize prevention, on knowing how to care for and heal oneself, and in understanding health as a collective phenomenon. Services offered have included dental screenings and services, physician check-ups, physical therapy consultations, and rapid HIV-testing.
Housing Cooperative Commission
The housing commission seeks to create affordable, cooperative housing in the face of very real and imminent displacement of the working class residents in this neighborhood. This project also works to prevent El Kilombo’s eviction by the encroaching real estate development by purchasing a building for our social center, which would house our lending library, social and educational space for our programs, as well as a community kitchen. The housing cooperative would help create a base for our community struggle in our effort to defend and create neighborhood spaces and resources enjoyed in common by the community.