The Kibera Slum
A couple of things came together today that made me think about the Kibera slum in Nairobi that I visited a couple of weeks ago. First, I watched The Constant Gardener last night and part of it was filmed in Kibera, which I can scarcely imagine given the crime and logistics. Second, I listened to an online radio clip "Slum Tours: Insight or Voyeurism?" There are now organized tours to slums in Mumbai, India, (where I have been) and favelas in Brazil (where I haven't). In most cases, a good portion of the income from the tours goes to social programs for people living in the slums (which it should).
Kibera is the largest slum in Nairobi. There are about 700,000 people living in crowded corrugated tin or mud houses. Some have small businesses selling fruit and vegetables, or charcoal, or repairing shoes, or showing videos at set times, so people can go see them like they would a movie in a theater. Others work in service positions--as cooks and gardeners and house cleaners. Even more are unemployed.
It's hard to imagine anyone living here. The streets are narrow and it's dirty. There's trash everywhere. Waste water runs in narrow troughs at the side of the road. The lack of sanitation and the lack of potable water makes for a conditions that are difficult to imagine.
Why do people have to live like this?