The word slum evokes a series of visions for most people; poverty, crime, dirty children with forlorn faces.
The Kibira slum in Nairobi isn't exactly a place you would choose as a stop on your tourist map however I found myself there today and I certainly didn't find a community at odds.
My friend Sisqo decided I should see this place, straight off the place; no sleep in 24 hours and luggage still in the car. I'm pretty easy going I think, so why not? Let's go!
Mohamed met us at the entrance to the Kibira community. A really lovely man and passionate about the slum community he grew up in. I learnt a little of the history of the place and was most interested in the projects Mohamed's team for Youth Reform have undertaken with some NGO support and an enormous deal of community support and hard work.
The place has looked worse, he tells me. The 2 month clean up has cleared a lot of the waste and environmental no no's. I can see the work that has been done and the Youth Reform should be proud of what they achieved so far.
The work to improve running water supply and hygiene is incredible and the organic farming project is really impressive.
I saw about half (maybe) of Kibira and met and spoke with some wonderful friendly people. The kids were fun and eager to interact and I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed all the "hi 5s" and "hello how are you I'm fine"s. I even learnt a couple of swahli words along the way!
The highlight for me of course was the animals. Under such extreme conditions animal neglect or abuse is often prevalent however in this case I found that not to be my observations. I fell in love with a dog called Spots whose owner loving looked after 5 or so dogs that get fresh meat for dinner!
The fat goats and waddling ducks wander freely and along with the chickens complete with dozens of chicklets, contribute to the sustainability of the Youth Reform projects. Let's say...in one end goes the scraps, helping to clean up the slum footpaths and then it's out the other end to fertilise the organic produce.
When I get some computer access I will update this post with some photos, particularly Spots :)
What you can do...
Various NGOs provide support to Kibira and you would certainly find something online.
Alternatively you could contribute directly to a specific project such as the new community wash basin project to provide running water for community members to wash their hands after use of the bathroom. You see, communal latrines or a squat at the river are the current toilet systems apart from Youth Reform's eco-friendly toilets and washrooms. This project needs around 6,000 Kenyan shillings ($71AUD or $54EURO) to get off the ground.
Contact Oceans2Earth for details about direct contact with Youth Reform.