Oh Kibera

We’ve done this before and I’ve written about it before but it never ceases to amaze me – the heartbreak, the impossible conditions, the happy kids, the welcoming families, the stench. I hope I never get used to it.

We met Sally, Stuart and our security at the Angel Kindergarten, ready to walk into the Kibera slum.

We’ve been in a few times before. This time the purpose was two fold: to visit Edwin (a blind boy whom we’ve spent time with before) and to watch ‘Teacher Faith’ leading Jelly Wobbles and AMS songs at the Lunchbowl Saturday food program.

As we walked from the kindy across the bridge into Kibera itself, Stuart happily reported that there have been 17 shooting deaths across this strip since January. Oh goodie. Hello security guard

Because of all the recent rain, it was stinkier and more revolting than we’ve seen before! I was gagging once we crossed the bridge. Yucky festy sludge. Ugh!

We visited a home where 2 little girls from ‘Angel’ live with their Mama and Baba. It’s a one room, 3.5 x 3.5m mud hut with a couch a table and a bed. The walls adjoining the next abode are fabric or sheets of plastic. Clothes hang from the ceiling. There is no power, water or anything else. It’s just a dingy room.

They welcomed us warmly, thanked us for visiting their home. Baba has lived in Kibera his entire life – he was born there in 1951. He went to school up until the end of primary, then worked in local security to help support his family.

We sat and chatted, asked a few questions. Bill asked ‘are you happy here?’ (Which I always think is brave) and the emphatic reply was ‘Yes! We are happy!’ I asked what changes he has seen in all his years living here. He said it is much, much better now (!!!) because they have some water in the local area and there are clinics to visit for the sick. It’s honestly hard to take in. Im not a crier really but I was taking very big breaths…

On we went, dodging muck and jumping rivulets of sewerage.

The kids are happy and we’re always greeted with ‘how are you!?’ as we walk.

The shops crack us up. There are computer stores, verge stalls, revolting gizzards hanging up, tomatoes on tables. Our favourite are the hairdressers and beauty salons. We stopped for a photo of us girls in front of the ‘Glam Salon’. Very tempting….

On to Edwin’s house. His mum, Grace met us at the entrance to their laneway and saw us in. Grace has many children and has 2 rooms (girls sleep in one, boys in the the) and it is as neat as a pin! She has electricity and Edwin has an electric keyboard, which was pride of place on the table in the centre of the room.

We were thrilled to see him again! He’s home from boarding school (up in Thika) for the holidays. Edwin has grown and looks fantastic! He is a happy, healthy, musical boy. My beautiful friend in Sydney, Liz is his sponsor, sending funds each year for Edwin’s schooling. He is thriving!

He and his friend John, who is also blind, were very keen to present a few songs for our enjoyment. Edwin played and John sang. An absolute delight. Amazingly, their songs were all about praising God, exchanging sorrow for joy, being grateful for their lives…. again, hard to digest.

We walked into the compound where ‘Lunchbowl Kenya’ (Sally and Stuart’s incredible initiative!) feeds 3-400 kids each Saturday. The process to qualify for this program is too heartbreaking to explain but let’s just say that this is the only decent meal these kids will eat each week.

We got there just in time to enjoy teacher Faith leading more than 300 kids in some Jelly Wobbles songs – which they know SO WELL! As I’ve already said I’m not really a crier but this bit really sent me – It was a little overwhelming.

Then the assembly line as every child received their meal. I’ve described this before but it never gets old!! I was busy chatting to teachers and taking photos when Tilly came and said ‘Mum- help! They’re hungry!’ Yes, good point.

As Tilly was grabbing plates a young girl came up to her and asked ‘What is your brothers name?’ Tilly said ‘Jacob?’ She said ‘Yes, where is he!?’ It was Anna. The girl that had melted Jake’s heart a little over a year ago. She asked us to say hi Jake – you’d be thrilled – she’s well and happy, same big smile. (And wearing a beany in a boiling hot steamy stinky room full of people!!)

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