Monday, January 14, 2013

Huruma: The World Next Door. Part II

As continued from Part I, following our tour of the Missionaries of Charity, we took a tour of the Huruma slum. We were told it is Nairobi's second largest slum, next to Kibera. George Hussein Onyango Obama, Barack Obama's half-brother actually resides in Huruma.

Much of Huruma consists of tin/rubbish houses that have no electricity, running water or sewer connections. One thing that sets this slum apart from others is the many high rise apartment buildings.

Notice all the antennas?

In 2010, an innovative slum upgrading project was completed, providing improved block wall houses to over 200 homes. All with running water, sewage, electricity and drainage. Including renovated toilet blocks. In the old part, there is one toilet per 1000 people! I was unable to actually get some statistics on the population... but it must be a fair amount. Not that a 'fair amount' is an actual quantitative amount... ;)

We started the tour with a visit to one of our driver's homes. They recently just had a baby, and he was happy for us to meet their new family member. The house was part wood, cardboard, tin and just plain scrap. The ceiling appeared to be made of burlap sacs sewn together. This was the only room we saw that appeared somewhat 'homey'.

The hallways were pitch black (no electricity) with a dirt floor and  chickens roaming in and out.

One hallway, I had to lighten the picture, as it was pretty dark with only the light from the outdoors streaming in.

The door to the home. Our driver's lovely wife and daughter. You can see the first part of the home inside is constructed of cardboard.
What you cannot see in this photo, is the trench running along in front of the houses... that acts as the sewage system for the old part of the slum. Yep... an assault to the sense of smell. You cross over the sewage ditch by way of small bridges constructed of scrap wood.

I think Coca Cola owns Africa... it's everywhere and cheaper than drinking water.
Children in the slums or rural areas don't see Mzungus (white people/foreigners) often. They are always very interested in us.
This is a typical shop that you would see in slums, markets etc.

Kenya is quite a 'filthy' country. Even in the nicer downtown core, people just litter everywhere. It is the 'norm'. When there is any type of garbage collection or dumping station - it is just all burned. Plastic, rubber, toxins - they don't care. The smell that will always remind me of Kenya is that of burning garbage. Not pleasant - but simply a fact.
Washing laundry. I would like to hope that they are not using the dirty stream for water, but why else would they be washing here? Unfortunately, it also means that the toxic laundry detergent they use is also going down the stream.
Children running after our car yelling in unison, 'How are you?'... in the cutest African accent.
One of the largest struggles in the slums, is lack of space for children to play. They have nowhere to go but the streets. In the upgraded part here, the streets are paved and a bit wider.
Girls playing with bottle caps. Incidentally, our children have been collecting and playing with bottle caps as well. ;)
A woman selling dried anchovies.
Poor doggy. :(
Songs to lone.
I'm pretty certain there is no refrigeration in the Mwenda Butcher Shop!
Happy kids playing in the upgraded part of the slum.
Chicken feet anyone? Once again, no refrigeration - but they all manage to survive. lol.
Bustling side street.
This woman is likely carrying material to build a house or shop.
We took the tour driving through the slum, but I wouldn't have hesitated to walk through it. People are quite friendly and happy to have you there, hoping you will support their businesses.

The average income for a person living in the slum is $1 a day, so it's quite easy to make someones day. Yesterday, I purchased 2 flowered headbands from a disabled woman on the street downtown. I asked her how much and I know I caught her off guard when she looked up and saw my white skin. She took a second to reply... I'm sure contemplating how much of an increase she should apply. 50 shillings she said. (.60 cents). Deal - I purchased 2, and walked away happy seeing the smile on her face.

One thing that has stayed with me after visiting some of the poorest areas, as we have seen in many other countries... is the observation that those with the least are the most content. Proud of the little that they do have and just simply grateful for life. There is certainly a lesson to be learned here. 


Jacquie said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to share this! This was one of the things I was really looking forward to in your blog, seeing what life is like for the people of Kenya.

Sharla said...

Wow! Such an eye opener. I agree with you wholeheartedly. The ones with the least tend to be the most content. Thank you for sharing this experience!

Candice said...

Incredible photos Jo. I am loving following your experiences and getting to see a bit of this incredible country through your eyes.