My name is Nina Eklund and I am currently working at a Kenyan Non Governmental Organization called Wayo Wayo Africa. We are located in Kibera, one of the world’s largest slum areas – right outside central Nairobi.
Some estimates show that one million people live in Kibera. The houses consist of clay walls and iron sheet roofs. The residents of Kibera do not have running water and electricity is a challenge. They have to walk to purchase water and often the water is not very clean. Furthermore they have to pay a lot more for it than their wealthier counterparts outside the slum do. There is a lot of criminality and problems due to alcohol consumption and drug use. Despite all of these issues this is not what I take with me from the experience of living in Kibera. I met people here that are some of the most driven and imaginative people I have ever met. Nothing goes to waste here in Kibera and people living in high-income countries have a lot to learn. The habitants of Kibera have a lot of pride to come where they come from and for what they achieve.
Wayo Wayo Africa runs a youth center here in Kibera and we work to create a safe place for the youths to spend their spare time. They come here after school, on weekends and during holidays to dance, get help with schoolwork, get support from the adults who run the center but also from their peers. The center is a safe haven for a lot of the youths since they have to endure physical and psychological abuse, at home and in school. The youths do a lot of dancing at the center, through this they learn a great skill and also learn how to value themselves and their talents. Together they create a community and Wayo Wayo is like a second family. Wayo Wayo’s biggest project so far is paying the school fees for the youths who attend high school. The cost of education skyrockets as the kids enter high school and many can only attend intermittently due lack of funds. The chances of being able to create a decent life for themselves are substantially diminished if they don’t have a high school education. At Wayo Wayo we try to give the youths the tools they need to create their own future.
There has been a lot of interest over the years from organizations from western countries to “help” Kibera. According to the citizens in Kibera not much has changed. I believe a big part of this is the way development work is carried out. Many organizations don’t make the locals citizens a part of their work, they don’t use the expertise of the people living in the areas that they are trying to improve.
Also I believe that outsiders will not “save” Kibera, the people of Kibera have to be the change they want to see in the world. This is no easy task, especially considering how tough their lives can be, but they have the capability to do this, they just need the right opportunity.
Claire Khalenya, one of the youths of Wayo Wayo Africa:
Day come day go, life in slums is always the same, no one is trying to change it even if they try its hard for them too. The government is avoiding the people in the slums cause of a reason nobody knows, it is only them that knows, if you ask they are trying but if you look around you find that nothing is changing you start wondering what they are trying to do.
Us girls we are the people that are suffering a lot cause there is lots and lots of insecurity, lack of sanitary towels. Many girls are dropping out of school because of mothers and fathers who think that when their girls reach a certain age they should get married. Something they don’t know is that their girls will be the people who will move them out of the slums.
Education is a key to many things like the up coming future and the next generation.
I always look around and start asking myself an answerable question, when will Kibera slum and other slums in our society ever be like other towns. For sure if I ever get the answer to that question I will be calm cause many kids in the slums don’t have a home to live in, clothes to wear, food to eat, and that’s why the population in Kenya is decreasing from day to day. Parents don’t give their children easy time that’s why they involve themselves in drug abuse, steeling and also joining gang group around the slums and that’s why many youths die and it ruin’s our forward future.
In my lifetime I always have one wish and one hope that one day our homes will be a better place for both teenagers and the young ones who are up coming.
The following short film shows one day from the point of view of one of the youths of Wayo Wayo.