Thursday, January 18, 2007

Struggling Nairobi Slums

It's our second day in Kenya and everyone already seems to have lost track of what day/time it is since we are three time zones away from home. I'm proud to say that I have had no jetlag problems despite the many warnings I received before the 30-hour trip.

Today, I visited some of the largest slums of Nairobi--home to about 200,000 residents. Villages here have homes that are about 10 ft by 10 ft and house an average of seven people. Aside from lacking all the basic necessities like water, wastewater, etc., these residents also have to deal with living next to a dumpsite. All of Nairobi's trash is dumped next to the slums. Needless to say, their water is contaminated, cholera is a huge problem and illegal dump sites are sprouting throughout their community.

But the faces of the children who live there tell a different story. They look at you and their eyes widen. Toddlers immediately stick out their little hands to greet you and soon the kids saying "How are you?" sounded like a chorus throughout the Korogocho village.

Youth organizers in the slums are coordinating their own clean-up efforts and live off of the money they receive from collecting items that can be recycled. An organizer had a poster that read, "Waste is not waste until it is wasted." Community slum organizers have so much work to do and need so much, yet they are full of hope and optimism.

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