Our team visited the Kibera slum today in Kenya. This is the largest slum in Kenya. I Know I have been preparing for this trip for months with our team and Melanie, but nothing could have prepared me for today. I asked questions on the way there, and knew we could not take pictures or carry anything with us, but it was so much harder than I imagined. I feel like I can’t wrap my mind around what I saw. I have seen poverty before, but never poverty like that. When we entered the slum I was having to watch the ground because of all the rocks and the mud, muddy water, trash, etc you can step on. As we passed about five houses and made a turn to head to our destination I was looking up and down to watch the ground so i didn’t fall, and just had tears down my face because I was so overwhelmed by the environment, people, things everywhere that in most of America would be garbage but were homes to these people. No home was larger or taller than another, but was about the size our our American bathrooms.
This slum is over 700 acres there, and I was actually surprised to see that most of it actually had electricity. I was so sad to be walking through there, but then began to get to a point where I was just angry and sad at the same time like I couldn’t walk through there anymore, and I had to turn around and get out. I was sad and upset that those people were there, I was sad it had to be so dirty with people living like that. We got to our first destination of our walk to the middle area of the slum at an office. We had two guards come with us to a home of a family of 6 that goes to the City Harvest Church we visited and spoke at later today.
After the guards were with us we took a turn and had to jump over this small water and there were train tracks through a small walking area between homes. We walked into it, and had to stand against the side right when the train came by. It was frightening how close the train comes to people, and came to hitting us while just trying to get through the slum. I was terrified at the moment, but wouldn’t trade the experience. We kept on walking, and from that point on it was like my emotions of being so upset were calming down, and I was becoming more understanding of the stories trying to take in what I was seeing. When we arrived at the home I had to duck under a short wood beam to get into the shop/home. The man had a movie on his tv in the gathering room area. The wife was so sweet and thanked us for visiting her.I went in with some of our group to see the family’s house and they showed me the inside of their home. It was small, but they were so proud to show me everything they had, and I could tell how hard they worked for everything. The family was so sweet, and it just warmed my heart to see such hospitality when they could easily be upset or give up on such a situation.
It is the same God providing there next meal every day and a whole different level of worries compared to what we worry about in America. All I could think about was that any one of us could have been born there or be in the same type of situation, and we are so lucky.
There was women sitting on the “street area between houses” doing hair, holding their children, or walking. Bekah met this wonderful woman and her children across from the man and his wife that loved her playing and holding her kids. She said “see God does love us” before we left there to walk out of the slum. Her words were so sweet.
I described this experience as my own three stages of mourning or grief. Also compared it to climbing a mountain, walking at the top for a few minutes, and it’s all downhill from there. I had a better time with it after we left the office and headed to the family’s house. I was feeling more comfortable and taking it in.
After leaving the slum we headed to the baby elephants. I could now understand why Melanie schedules her trip the way she does because I have felt like I have seen so much, and it is emotional. It gives you a chance to see some different things, and a chance for us to spend more time to talk and reflect with each other while going on big projects. I had no idea I would have such a big impact from my slum experience.
After the elephants we went to see the Amani women, who make Fabrics from hand in a rolling system, and then much clothes, purses, and much much more. We gave our leadership speeches, and I adjusted mine to mean more to the women’s jobs in making these cloths. I wanted to teach them about business leadership, delegating leadership, working together in making their cloth for their job with participating leadership, and lastly authority leadership for decisions and differences between the leader and the follower. The women enjoyed listening to us and actually asked us to type all of our information and email them copies. It was an honor to know they enjoyed the information we have worked to present that much. I felt like a true leader and that I was making a difference in giving these women courage in their lives. They told us stories of how they made it to Amani, and traveled from different areas of Africa to a safer area to work.