Let’s talk about the slum

P1040339 This week Nelson and me made a visit to Korogocho, one of the slums outside Nairobi. Situated next to the slum is the dump site of Nairobi, (Dandora dump site) which provides the daily work and bread for so many people in close by slums. Just by entering Korogocho we were faced with the extreme poverty in this area. One of the first people we met was a young boy. He was probably about 11 years old. Our guide, one of the local young leaders of Korogocho, explained that the boy is homeless and spends his time on the dumpsite, trying to find and collect things for selling and also to look for food. The boy doesn’t go to school. He has to make a way to provide for himself in order to survive so there’s no time for getting an education. P1040257On the other side of the river a man was emptying buckets of human waste. That is his daily work. People have him come and collect the waste and then they pay him something small for it. The people we met in Korogocho were very friendly, smiling toward us and greeting us as we passed by. Even the small children were laughing and running around us, wanting to shake hands and say “how are you?”.P1040263 Even though the government made some improvements in the area, as building a main road and putting up lights along the road, there are so many more things to be done. The living standard for the people in Korogocho is extremely low. Most of the houses or shacks are built with mud or with big pieces of metal sheet. On many of the roofs you can see big stones and metallic pieces. They are there to prevent the rain from getting into the houses. Along with the narrow alleys between the shacks and houses there are streams of muddy water running, filled with trash and human waste. Combined with the heat, the smell is almost unbearable sometimes. P1040341 The main streets are crowded with people selling things, most probably collected from the dumpsite, but there are also small kiosk where you can buy fruits and vegetables, milk and bread, hardware, get credit for the phone and other necessary things. One of the Mamas we met insisted that we should visit her sick neighbour. Entering the tiny and dark mud house we found the neighbour on the bed. There was no doubt what she suffered from. I had seen it before. Her bony body witnessed of that her state of AIDS had already gone too far. On the ground next to the floor a man was sitting and cooking over the jiko (a fire place made out of a pot with coals in). He was also a neighbour giving his time and effort to help the sick lady. I felt so powerless and stupid just standing there, watching the lady barely able to sit. In the middle of all the sadness, the heart of the people, sharing their time and their little resources with each other really made an impression on me. Another impression that I got, walking around in Korogocho, is that the people here are really hard working people. Many work from 4 am until late at night in order to get the daily bread for the family. We met an old Mama with a cattle of goats, that despite swollen feet, walks a long distance every day to get leftovers and food wastes for the goats and then walk the distance back again to her home where she let the goats eat what she has brought. P1040345I’ve been both visiting and working in slums before, but this visit once again reminded me of that we must never give up the fight for development and equal rights for everyone. That includes the rights to education, health care, sufficient shelter and sanitation and not least the right to food. And we must never take anything for granted. As for people in many countries, life can turn around in one minute. One day you have plenty the next day you have nothing. And I think that is why people here share so much with each other, because they know that next day they might be the one in need.  It’s definitely something to give an extra thought about. Na Upnedo Anne