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Nairobi – Part 2

January 25, 2010

Kibera – the second largest slum in Africa and scene of the violent post-election riots. Roughly 800.000 people live here. Nobody knows the exact number. We were invited here by a group of local photo-journalism students, all still living in Kibera. I admit, I was extremely reluctant to come here.  I did not know whether I could take what I was going to see and smell (there is almost no sanitation here) and how I would be received. No matter how much you dress down, you still stick out like a sore thumb. I love nature photography  but I had signed up for this particular trip, because I wanted a more complete  picture of Kenya, not just a beautiful safari.  And this is a large part of reality here. So I pulled myself together and went.  Kibera is only about half a mile  from the Nairobi Polo Club but yet it is a world away. I could not imagine a bigger contrast.  There are just narrow dirt pathways between the houses and what happens during a rain event requires very little imagination.  We were invited into the home of one woman who lived in her tiny little place (not much larger than the bed) with 13 children, mostly orphans she had taken in. One beautiful 8 year old girl was HIV positive. Quite heart-breaking. What made this whole experience bearable was the resiliance of the people and the smiles of children that constantly greeted us with “how are you”. There are small businesses all over the place, some of which Ryan’s organisation “Give International” is supporting, including a school. Just having a black board in a school, a cement floor or a roof that does not leak are luxury items here. If you are interested in donating to any of the projects in Kenya, Tanzania or Uganda, 100 % of the donations will go directly to a project!

The writing on the booth a reminder of the post-election riots.

A small business, manufacturing beautiful jewelry out of bone.

After leaving Kibera, we went to an orphanage where 65 children ages 1 – 17 live. Despite having experienced what no child should experience we were greeted with huge (sometimes toothless) smiles.

They all sang some beautiful songs for us and afterward a precious little girl grabbed  my hand to show me the room she is living in. Everything is nice and clean here, 4 children per room and everyone has their own bed.

But basic necessities, even food are not always easy to come by. When you ask these children what they would like to be when they grow up, you get the same answer as you would from most children here: doctor, engineer, pilot. They all have their dreams for the future and I hope they will come true.

Everyone wanted to get photographed.

I know everyone was probably expecting  wildlife images from my trip (I promise they will follow), but this is a part of Kenya and I think it is important that people know about it and not just the beautiful landscape and wildlife.

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 18, 2010 5:45 am

    Africa was always last on my bucket list of places to visit until my business partner, her 16 YO granddaughter, and I went there. My first couple of days were spent as an event photographer for a large LDS church world event. After that, we spent almost a month living and working in the Riruta slum area (NW of Kibera). As you can imagine, it was a life-changing experience. If given the opportunity again, I’d go back there in a fraction of a second. I’m glad you were able to spend some time in the Nairobi area too, Beate.

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