This morning we had swahili in the morning, a lecture from Wamai about the Kenyan Health Care System and another lecture from Prof. Won’gombe about health economics….. nothing too noteworthy.
In the afternoon we went to Kibera, the largest slum in sub-Saharan Africa, and we met with Agneta Olurch who runs the organization Sita Kimya! in Kibera. Sita Kimya! means I won’t shut up! or I won’t stop yelling! and refers to the vow one should give to not stop yelling if they know sexual abuse is occurring around them. The organization is part of the Kibera Post Test Club Network which is made up of 40 cubs and has over 1400 members in Kibera. It is a group of organizations for people who have been tested for HIV/AIDS so that they can talk to others who have been tested. They provide daycare services, therapy for HIV positive people to help them battle the stigmas and challenges that come with being HIV positive, and they work to educate the public through street skits and classroom about HIV/AIDS. We were able to see one skit and it was awesome. The young men and women who acted were great actors and they were so dedicated to helping others even though they were living in such squalor. I will post a video of the skit tomorrow.
One of the actresses names was Lilian and I got to spend about an hour and a half walking through Kibera with her. She had grown up in Kibera and spent her whole life there. She told me everything about the slum.
She talked about the frequent rapes and molestations that take place, the corruption involved in the job market, the political and ethnic dynamics of the slum, how they get water, food, and make a living, etc. She said the biggest challenge of life in Kibera is keeping the children in school. She said that if they weren’t in school, not only were they not getting an education, but they had idle time throughout the day, during which they could get vacuumed into lives of drugs, prostitution, or crime, all very common in Kibera.I asked her specifically about the rapes. I didn’t get it, why is it so common? She said men wait at night for women to go to the bathroom and then they rape or molest them. She said that it happens most often to young girls and talked with her friend about the recent molestation of a 1 year old and a 2 month old……. It was heartbreaking.
A few things in Kibera were as expected, there was trash literally everywhere, tons of people, tin houses, people without jobs, and a huge lack of resources for the 400,000 people who live there. But there were also some things that I did not expect. I did not know that there were so many shops and stores and I did not realize how many non-governmental orgs. there were in Kibera. I always pictured it as a huge, hot, crowded slum that only contained tin shacks where people slept. I never knew that people actually had businesses and organizations in Kibera.
Agneta’s organization was incredible and inspring. She started the organization after her husband died from AIDS in 1995 and now it is helping so many people. Lilian was disgusted at the need for people from Kibera to bribe or sell your body in order to get a job in Kibera or in the city. I was too. I was also disgusted by the environment of the slum. Walking through it, you felt as though disease was sweating all around you, you stepped through mud and trash, and then more trash, and felt as though anything you touched would transmit to you some type of infectious bacteria.
I talked to Luo people about the potential for violence if Raila doesn’t win in 2012 and the consensus was that there will not be violence because people were scared of what could happen after seeing how bad the violence was in 2008. Nobody wants to see a repeat of that, they said.
When asked about corruption in the job market, the consensus response was that about 75% of the Kibera population (about 300,000) were not given a job because it was given to somebody else who bribed, or had sex with someone in order to get hired.
I learned a lot walking through the slum and was deeply inspired by the concern that many of its dwellers had for others even with their own quality of life being so low. I took video of the skit, two presentations by schoolchildren, and of the street entering and leaving Kibera. I will put them up tomorrow evening. Right now I am exhausted though and need to go to bed. Enjoy!