The last two days have been spent in Kibera. (Kee-bear-uh)
If you Google “Kibera, Kenya,” you will quickly learn that it is one of the top five slums in the world.
Yesterday we visited a school of over 160 school children gathered inside a room no bigger than a living room and kitchen combined.
We were visiting that day to help provide food. The school has so many children enrolled because a free meal is provided daily. We made porridge on an open fire in the “kitchen” next door. I use that term loosely, considering most Americans (including myself) have never seen a kitchen like that one.
As I walked into the classroom I saw a sea of beautiful faces get shy, bury their heads in their hands, and giggle uncontrollably. The sight of a mzungu (white person) is so uncommon, that to many children we may be the first one they’ve ever seen.
I walked over to a little table that barely reached above my knee, I knelt down and asked them, “What is your name? Mine is kee-mee.” A burst of nervous laughter mixed with joy spread throughout the table as they all avoided the question (very normal response).
Then, one sweet boy, no more than 3 years old stood up, pushed his chair in and stuck his hand straight out toward me. As I shook his hand I couldn’t help but notice he was wearing a worn in sweater vest, making him all the more cuter. He shook my hand and said, “how are you?” After his bold move, the other kids at the table warmed up and began to chime in and grab my hand.
At the school, we played with the children and handed out porridge to each kid as they snuggled up in their winter coats and sat in their plastic chairs. For Kenyans in May, the weather is cold. However, for Americans we couldn’t have asked for anything better. 65 and loving it.
One little girl, Hope, snuggled up in my lap, rested her head on my chest and fell asleep drooling on my arm. As she began to doze off she was taking her tiny little fingers and rubbing her hands against my mzungu arm.
Today we headed out to the deep slums of Kibera, and I’m going to take a stab at trying it describe it.
The paths are red with dirt, rocky, and have carved in and exposed ditches/canals used as their sewer lines. The street are full of people, trash, chickens, dogs, and lots and lots and lots of children. I mean a LOT of children.
Also, a few scary men. One Kenyan man walked towards me and said, “Hey mzungu, let me hug you!” As he grabbed my arm, I kept saying “No thank you, no thank you,” and quickly pulled away. (Eep!)
As we were walking towards Gifted Hands School I heard a group of little girls walk by saying, “How are you?” (This is a common phrase almost every child knows and will say to you whenever you walk by. I’m starting to think they do not know its meaning, because as I respond they give me a blank stare and repeat the question haha) as I responded and moved forward with the group I thought she had left me, then all of a sudden a hear giggling and a small hand grabs my left arm and a small hand grabs my other arm and soon I have a whole pile of 5 year olds walking with me.
Turns out that I walked them all home as they left me one by one to their huts.
Once we reached GHS the love of the children was overwhelming as we crammed into a room the size of a bedroom with kids in every nook and cranny and sang songs about Jesus (in Swahili of course ;))
I had a group of little boys ask me, “How are you?” And to their surprise I asked the question back in Swahili, “Habari yako?” They began to laugh at me, then I said, “mzungu speaking Swahili?” and made a silly face. They began to erupt with giggles.
There’s nothing sweeter than their laughter.
Today I finally got to take pictures. Oh how wonderful it was to capture the joy of these children. They are so happy with so little. I really hope these pictures move you the way they moved us.