I still remember shortly after arriving in Kenya…We were heading to what was one of my first visits to the second largest slums in Africa: Kibera. We were in a hurry (of course) because we were late for one of the meetings we had with our team members. On the way between greetings and “karibus” someone wanted to start a conversation with us to which I replied that we were in a hurry, “in Africa you are never in a hurry”, he replied. I then thought that I had chosen to immerse myself in a culture, in this case Kenyan, that could be very different to mine, and that moved me.
I have had the luck in these last six months of sharing and learning with the Kibera community and being involved with the social entrepreneurship projects in which KUBUKA has been collaborating for some years. Projects and businesses that achieve a positive social impact in Kibera and its community, reducing unemployment and improving the living conditions of many people.
One of these projects is “Kleanbera Recycling”, a buying and selling business of recyclable material, which is growing thanks to the work and dedication of the people involved. With Wambugu and Patrick in charge, the business has made its first sale of material with the new acquisition: a truck, which allows them to transport and sell larger quantities and in a more accessible way. Since then, the business has not stopped needing more hands and the team has been expanding little by little. This is something that has made me especially happy because the youth unemployment rate in Kibera is very high.
Another project is “Kibera Cinemax” which, together with Patrick, offers the community films and football matches, aside from a space for women’s forums and other shows like those of the “Made in Kibera” team. We have also carried out handicraft workshops with children, set in a film that we had previously chosen with affection to enjoy together the magic of cartoons: a meeting point for the community where they can enjoy themselves in a healthy way and in good company.
In Kibera I have gone through hard moments involving reality clashes that in some way have also been the most enriching and beautiful moments of my experience in Africa. One of them was the first time I went to Kibera and the impact it generated in me days later. After returning from Kenya, everyone has not stopped asking me what Kibera is like and I feel that my answer falls short and I can not express in words what I really want to convey, maybe it’s because I’m still digesting my experience…It’s a territory full of waste of all kinds that accumulate in the streets, ditches and corners, of low houses with narrow spaces and little lighting, and of shared bathrooms in every housing area. The people who have their homes there, live in conditions of unimaginable health and hygiene where public institutions have turned their back to around a million people and where the search to meet the needs of food, hygiene, housing and employment is shortened because of the lack of opportunities and resources available to the majority. What has impressed me the most in this context, in the day to day life with people who have become important to me, has been their sense of deep and cooperative community that I have been able to see in gestures betwen them, and in the mutual support especially when things get difficult…And all of this being lived with a deep and characteristic dignity.
From the project coordinators I have to point out they way they have to respect and accompany the Kenyan workers at all times in the processes of the organization and in the day to day life, I have learned a lot from them. Regarding KUBUKA’s team in the field, I must point out the good working environment, the sincerity and closeness when it comes to contributing reflections and different opinions, as well as the good coexistence in the house where we have shared life, work and laughter.
“At the end of the road they will ask me, have you lived, have you loved?…and my heart will open full of names.”
Asante sana! Thank you!