Posted at 19:02h Written by Thilini, Amanda, and Charlotte, 2014 East Africa: Youth in Action.
in East Africa
It's been a whirlwind week for the East Africa: Youth in Action team! We've spent the past few days moving through Nairobi, Naivasha, and now we’ve finally nested in Kisumu. On Sunday afternoon, after lunch and still battling jet lag, we took a matatu out to Kibera, an informal slum settlement that houses between 200,000 to 1,000,000 people and has developed a form of self-governance over the years. It's impossible to estimate how many people actually live there since people are constantly coming and going; there are no permanent houses, formal streets or addresses. We weren’t sure what to expect when entering the slum. Though we’d heard about Kibera through documentaries and from others, nothing compared to experiencing it first hand. The houses are small and often double as a shop in the front. Garbage piles up in the streets, waiting for its turn to be burned. Sanitation is one of the biggest issues here, as would be expected in a community receiving so little help from the government. This issue is often highlighted in the infomercials produced by various NGOs. What they don't show you, however, is the number of small businesses and development opportunities that have emerged within the community. Almost everything that can be found in the western world can be found here too. Banks, pharmacies, kitchen supplies, beauty salons, shoe stores...you name it, they have it.
The children ran after us and we heard a chorus of "Mzungu" (which basically means white person) "How are you? How are you?", as we walked the streets. While the children were excited and fascinated with us, the adults simply stared on. They are used to foreigners observing and taking pictures of their living conditions. After walking through the streets of Kibera, we ended up at the Masaai Mbili art studio.