I have been debating on whether or not I should post the photos I took in the slums on the internet or not, and today while I was editing I decided that I'm not going to let this experience sit inside of my computer. It felt all sorts of weird walking through Kibera with a group of 10 wazungu, but I learned some important things that I shouldn't keep to myself when I have a platform to educate on.
My friends were filming a documentary on an orphanage outside of Kibera and on of the guys named Philip who they were interviewing took us through the slum. It is right around the block from a couple of the bigger malls in Nairobi. We often shopped in the Toi Market before this trip without even knowing that if you go deep enough you walk into Kibera. Kibera is the second largest slum in Africa, and the largest urban slum. There are roads going up to the edges of the slum, but then you hit a dirt road and piles of trash.
"The government ends with the road,"
said our guide Philip. The police don't go into Kibera because the people don't want them there; it is run by vigilante justice. During our walk around the slum two policemen who were accepted by the slum escorted us. While we were almost leaving the slum Tyler saw a women selling fish he wanted to film. He went over casually and took a photo and then the body guards freaked out a little bit and made him keep walking. Later we came to find out that behind the woman selling fish was a group of men sitting together with the most wanted criminal in all of Kenya. That is how untouched by federal law the slum is.
We got dropped off a school on the other side of the railroad tracks. The first look over the train tracks hit me like a sack of bricks.
Kibera goes on forever
. At the same time you are whacked with the reality of Kibera, you can see Karen-- the richest part of Nairobi. It hosts home to politicians and powerful people in Kenya. You could also see the hill that we lived on at Daystar University.
Where in the world am I?
"The people in Kibera are forced to live like animals while politicians live like gods."
A six foot by six foot house can hold 12 people. The mud walls fall and crumble, especially during the rainy season. Homes tap electricity illegally and dangerously. We went inside the home of a friend of Philip and she was so honored to host us. I can't properly encompass how happy she was to have us sitting in her house, showing us all of her photos and boasting about her granddaughter.
No one should be forced by birth or circumstance to live in a place like Kibera (especially when so many people living so close are living like kings). Kids born into it need hope. Philip said, "there is no hope in Kibera." I don't know if I agree with this statement. There is a lot of sadness and despair, but it is not without hope. I see the helplessness of the situation, but I also see generations brewing with knowledge that there is a way to do life differently and better. The youth hope for a better future and they don't want to put up with this for much longer.
COOL THINGS ABOUT KIBERA: you can have a baby in a clean hospital for 10 cents
NOT COOL THINGS ABOUT KIBERA: flying toilets. there is no waste system so people are forced to put their shit in bags then throw them into the street or river. the river that flows through the slum is polluted from this and excessive trash, but the kids still play in it, and they sell fish from down stream. this in turn makes the people sick.
Some days thinking about Kibera makes my heart hurt, but I am also reminded of all of the things blossoming from it and the people who have passion for making it better. Check out
my friends Tyler Minnesma and Max Anderson made.