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kiberamirror november edition

kiberamirror november edition

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Published by: vincent achuka maisiba on Dec 02, 2011
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Courting danger
Shocking tales of life in the slums
t is 6 a.m. in one of the well
off residential areas in Nai-robi and a business man is getting ready for a day at his business premises in town. As he rushes to the bathroomhe switches the on the electric water heater since it isunthinkable to shower with cold water at this time of the dayas his maid prepares breakfast for him and his family. After  breakfast he drops his children at school and drives off to townhoping that the traffic would not be as bad as yesterdays andthat business would be good.At the same time on the other side of the town, precisely atKisumu Ndogo in the expansive Kibera slums, Evelyn Atienohurriedly prepares her children for school before trekking toher stall situated just 2 meters from railway line at Gat-wekwera where she sells shoes and also doubles up as a tailor.
At this close range one wonders what would happen in casea train derails but the mother of two children aged 4 and 9though admitting that she fears this eventuality she has beenforced to contend with this as there is nothing else she can do.
“I still have to make a living and since I have not encoun-tered any problems so far in the last 3 years I have been selling shoes from this point, I have no option but to come here on a daily basis and try to makethat extra shilling.”
“Furthermore a lot of people pass here on adaily basis as they go to work or come home in theevening so this is a good strategic point” she adds.
This is the Nairobi we do not like to see or talk about. But it is there, right in our backyards, wheth-er we like it or not. For people living in slums, or "urban villages", as we like to call them, daily lifeis like being on death row or committing a slowform of suicide. Here, one is exposed to hundredsof hazards daily. If one does not die from preventable diseasessuch as tuberculosis, aids or cholera, one dies from electrocu-tion, fire, mud slides or for the case of Kibera, train derailment.In September Kenya woke up to very horrific news about afire in Sinai slums caused by a leaking petroleum pipeline that in the middle of the slums claiming 177 lives and leavingseveral hundreds homeless in what manyhave claimed to be the worst fire disaster in post independence Kenya.
According to John Kiarie, a social work-er at Shining hope for communities whowas part of the staff of SHOFCO and thestudents of the Kibera school for girls whovisited the victims at the Tom Mboya socialhall where they were seeking refuge and gave them some
DANGEROUSLY CLOSE: A train engine speeds past shoes on display as the traders in the background seem unmoved as they sell sardines
at Gatekwera inKibera. On the right are staff from Shining hope for communities unloading donations they had brought for the Sinai fire accident victims at the Tom Mboya hall withthe help of red cross personnel.
Day to day, chil-dren are electrocut-ed while playing byunderground wires,but here we live oneday at a time.”
Ignorance of the law denying children some of their rights
Do you know as a parent you could bedenying your child some rights even withoutknowing? It is now emerging that a lot of  parents could be breaking the law in thecourse of upbringing their children either intentionally or due to ignorance.According to recent reports in the media a12 year old boy who had been secluded andconfined in a room for 2 weeks was rescued by the police in Meru County after a tip off from members of the public and in the previ-ous week 2 parents were arraigned in court for refusing to vaccinate their child amidst reportsthat 4 children in Machakos county had diedfrom measles as their parents had refused tovaccinate them as „their culture restrictedthem from doing so.‟
These were some of the issues that werediscussed in a recent workshop held at theshining hope for communities‟ communitycenter to sensitize Kibera residents on Chil-dren rights. The event organized in conjunc-tion with the Children‟s legal action network (CLAN) was attended by several residentsmost of whom were women. Though most of the participants were aware of some of thechildren rights enshrined in the constitutionand the children's act, they seemed unawareof some of the rights which when denied to achild are punishable in a court of law. For instance a simple case of not getting a birthcertificate for your child constitutes to deny-ing your child his right of citizenship and itcan get you a jail sentence of not more than fiveyears.
 Neglect and denying your child parental carewhether you have a source of income or not isalso a criminal offence under the new constitu-tion. This seemed to amuse most of the female participants who constituted a huge percentageof attendants and had them chatting amongstthemselves for some time. The participants werealso given a chance to air their issues
ISSUE 4: NOVEMBER 2011 www.hopetoshine.org
 Just register for 8 packages at a combined cost of only
800 ksh
  At SHOFCO CYBER, Gatwekwera (0725269069)
and turn to this
My name is Tessa Dibble; I am a15 year old high school student fromBoston Massachusetts in the U.S.A.Recently, I was lucky enough to visitthe Kibera School for girls and ShiningHope for Communities with my father.To me this was a good opportunity tovisit prior friends Kennedy Odede andJessica Posner and also to make newfriends apart from witnessing firsthandthe challenges and opportunities a place like Kibera has to offer.
As I stepped out of the car at Olym- pic primary school, my eyes crawledover the new things I was experiencing.Most People seemed to be rushing outof the slum to the city of Nairobi for work and others to search for jobs. Thishuge number of hard working peopleheading out of Kibera so early in themorning as we were heading in wasvery inspiring. Some were dressed innice suits while others had worn outclothing.Just a few meters past the schoolwe came to a railway line and as I
crossed over it as I entered into theslum itself, described to me as one of the largest slums in the world I felt as if leaving one part of Nairobi and enter-ing another. From this unofficial bor-der, the landscape suddenly changed.The roads became narrower, dirtier andmuddier. Sights of children running
Thoughts about my first Visit to Kibera
Tessa Dibble
Boston Massachusetts, U.S.A.
around the little space they had to playhit me. Every child had a smile for us, a handshake, “how are you?”, andan occasional call of a
Thesights, sounds and smells of Kibera became stronger and I
saw severalmuddy streets with rows of shopsowned by the locals that were alreadyopen. Most of these shops sold home-made food, meat, fish, electronics andmusic. Occasionally, I could see someopen air hair salons in some corners.As the locals know it, Kibera ishome to over one million people near-ly 60% of Nairobi‟s population alt-hough it only occupies 6% of the land.To be in Africa‟s second largestslum was like nothing I had ever seen before. The area is very densely pop-ulated and I couldn‟t help but imaginehow life is difficult for most of these people. People walk side by side withtrash as if it does not exist. Here basicsocial services are largely missing but people still manage every day despiteall the challenges and manage to dowonderful things with and for their families in the tight spaces that Kiberahas to offer.We continued to walk through theslum until I saw a sign directing all toShining Hope for Communities andThe Kibera School for Girls. The signwas blue but the school itself had a pink wall with handprints of all thegirls that attend the school with their names under it. I was so impressedwith girls‟ intellect and confidence.These beautiful girls with their shin-ing personalities clearly have a greatfuture.
Equally impressive were the wom-en who were making the bracelets for sale (Infact I am wearing one as Iwrite). Their hard work was obvious,I could notice they had learned a lot business skills. The women we metseemed so committed to raising thechildren of Kibera, their own and allof the children of the community
Despite the negative stories aboutslums, every moment of our time inKibera we felt safe, we felt welcome,we never felt like strangers. All of the children in the streets whoreached out to us at every turn put aconstant smile on our faces. Wewere never more welcome than at a parents meeting at the Kibera Schoolfor Girls where the parents sang anddanced to invite us to be part of their community. It was an honor to be part of the Kibera community and Icannot wait to come back.
If you have been in Kibera or you have any thoughts about it, its people or you have you have somethingyou want to tell the world, do it through this column by writing to us on kiberamiror@gmail.com.
Kibera is known for many things;
Poor sanitation, human suffering, poverty, crime, violence just toname a few. Something uniqueabout its people though, is theextremes to which they can go inorder to make ends meet. Some-times these extremes put their lives on the line but to them it is because there are simply no op-tions. This month we bring to youstories told by the people them-selves and why they are willing to put their lives on the line. We alsofeature one success story from theslum about a school that has risenfrom humble beginnings to greatsuccess.
Vincent Achuka
This edition’s Team
John Kiarie, Kizito Nadebu, FredWanjala, Jessica Steinke, TessaDibble, Anne Olwande, BenardMaticha, Susan Awino, Sylvia Nekesa
Students from theKibera school forgirls enjoyingthemselves duringbreak time. Behindthem is a wall withhandprints of eachgirl at the school.
The school is thefirst and onlyexclusively freeschool in the slum.Apart from freetuition, the girlsare also providedwith daily nourish-ment, uniformsand school sup-plies
Shocking tales of life in the slums
donations on behalf of the organi-zation and the Kibera residents,majority of the victims were re-morseful of the incident but a fewwere not as siphoning of petrolfrom the pipeline „is a normalaffair to them‟ and whatever hap- pened was an accident. Infactsome of the male victims claimedthat it was their wives were pres-suring them to take part in thesiphoning so as not to miss the rareopportunity of making some mon-ey for household expenses just before the disaster struck.
This fire disaster temporarily brought to the attention of thecountry the life of slum dwellers inthe country that have to face deathevery minute. A month on, thedust seems to have settled leavingthem on their own once again as ithas always been.
Back in Kibera, MillicentAchieng, a vegetable vendor at theKichinjio area one of the areaswhere the railway crosses has wit-nessed two railway accidents in therecent times including one as recentas last month just after the Sinaiincident when a train‟s enginecaught fire right in front of her stall but she has no intention of movingher stall from its present spot
adangerous hardly 2 meters from therailway.Although no causalities werereported, the last accident in whicha train derailed scores of peoplewere hurt and some lost their livesincluding a friend to one of her sonsas she tells us. Just as most of the people we talked to her story is thesame; she simply does not have anyoption but to run her business fromthat area despite 2 previous evictionattempts carried out by the govern-ment.
“I have been selling cowpeas
from this spot for 20 yearsand the proceeds have enabled meto educate all my children includingtwo who have since been employedin Dubai so the fear of a train acci-dent cannot scare me. You simplydo not plan for accidents”
She further claims that on twooccasions some people have ap- proached her to pay them 500 shil-lings in order to petition RVR tomove the railway line but nothinghas happened so far.
At spot check in Kibera alsoreveals the extent of illegal electrici-ty connections that are like a normalthing here. Copper wires
someuncoated connecting the residents toa cheap yet very dangerous sourceof electricity are easily noticeablecrisscrossing on rooftops, paths andsome even across the streets reveal-ing the extent to which the residentscan go in order to access basic so-cial services which are beyond reachto most of them.Worse still, some electric poles can be seen protruding right from insidesome houses through rusty rooftops.Though it is yet to happen, an elec-tric fire could be really disastrous ashouses are interconnected to each other as if waiting for disaster to happen andthere is a shortage of access roads toallow for help to reach affected areas.
The tales about the rate of electrocu-tions from short circuits or overloadingis equally heart wrenching
A resident who did not want to be iden-tified told us that an electrocution caseis not news here as everyone knows thatdanger looms and anything can happen, but they live on luck.
“Day to day, children are electrocut-ed while playing by underground wires, but here we live one day at a time.”
What is more disheartening is thefact that as we were preparing this story,a deafening noise was heard nearbyfollowed by a blackout only to learn thata middle aged man had been electrocut-ed and rushed to the Johanna JustinJinich clinic with severe burns for firstaid before being rushed to the Kenyatta National hospital.
Just like other informal settlements, basic infrastructure in Kibera is conspic-uously absent. For instance the lack of clean tap water together with the lack of toilets mean that in the case of a choleraoutbreak, the number of causalities canonly be imagined in a country wheredisaster preparedness is an utter embar-rassment.
Two questions arise here. Are Kiberaresidents wrong in trying to better their lives while endangering themselves?Where would the buck stop next timeanother disaster strikes?
The management and staff ofShining hope for communitiesand the students at the Kiberaschool for girls would like tocongratulate the students whohave sat for KCPE and KCSEexams this year for conqueringthis important milestone intheir lives.We recognize that educationis a key for a great future andwish them all the best in theirendeavors.
Since last year we have givenwomen and children in Kiberamore good news than anyone else.This is because at JJJ they are not just our patients, We focus all ourattention to them. That is why mostof our services to them are free.Trust our experience
Johanna Justin Jinich Clinic
Out patientservicesNow at only150 sh
Lack of seats could not deter these young spectators from enjoying the game during the Amani Kibera tournament, they broughtan old tyre.
It was inspiring to see these two women as part of the community that turned out to ferry sand to the constructionsite of the new KSG building as there is no road network for vehicles to pass.
Stock controller Antony Otieno busy at work.
Pic speak 
Ignorance of the law denyingchildren some of their rights
Concerning children rights apart from participating in a competition to knowhow much they knew about theserights. Another issue that raised debatewas whether beating up your child as aform of correction amounts to childabuse as in Kenya most people believein sparing the child spoils the child.One female particular participant inobjection of the idea was nearly intears as she narrated how her nephewwas being subjected with daily inhu-man beatings by her in laws but his behavior never changed until he wastaken up for counseling. He is now astudent at The university of Nairobi „sKabete campus.
The community programs manag-er at Shining hope for communities
 Bernard Maticha, while contributing toone of the discussions held that dayinformed the participants on the pro-cess of child development that parentsmust adhere to always.
“A child develops in 4 ways; phys-ically, intellectually, spiritually andsocially. Denying your child any of these is like denying him some aspectsof his life”
“Infact a child who is denied someof these rights or abused during child-hood is likely to become a child abuser as an adult”
However it is quite sad that for children raised in slums the difficultiesof life have ensured that most of thechildren do not get some of theserights. For instance most of the chil-dren lack basic needs, health care andeducation and while little is being donesome of the children have also beenforced into child labor, early marriagesand child prostitution in order to sur-vive and most of them are exposed tosex from a young age as one partici- pant said during the workshop.“Although exposing your child to pornographic content amounts to sexu-al abuse. Let us be realistic, in Kibera people live in small rooms of about 6 by 6 feet together with their children,so you can imagine”
Impressively, in Kibera most parents take their children regularly for immunization since it is offered for free in many health centers. However according to Addah Alati, a nurse atthe Johanna Justin Jinich clinic in theslum, some of the parents skip takingtheir children for regular weight meas-urement and observations opting toadhere only to immunization dates.
“This is a very dangerous trendas sometimes we notice cases of abnor-mal weight growth which could be anindicator of other underlying serioushealth problems when it is too late.Furthermore regular observation of achild‟s physical features is necessaryespecially for boys.”
She alludes this problem to lack of information, though she says thatsome of the parents are aware but takethings for granted. It now seems a lotof awareness campaigns have to becarried out to fully eradicate the prob-lem.
Our journey to success– St. Aloysius High school
The story of Kibera has beentold countless times throughout thewhole world, but that story is about poverty, crime, violence, humansuffering and about girls as youngas 15 trading their bodies for food.However in the midst of all these,some very inspiring stories emerge.Stories of hope. One is the story of St. Aloysius Gonzaga high schoolthat started in the slums, offeringfree education for orphans but it hasgrown over the years to what it istoday offering not only free butquality education to hundreds of needy students. From a rented struc-ture in the slum the school has out-grown itself and recently moved tomagnificent premises in Langata.Kibera mirror visited the schoolwith a view to finding out from the principal Beatrice Wairimu on their road to success.
(KM) When did the school start?
(BW) This is the 7
How did it start?
The idea was conceived by a mem- ber of the Christian life communitywhen he looked at the children of Kibera and how most of them suf-fered, especially if they are or- phaned. So he sold the idea to other members and they started sponsor-ing some of them by paying fees for them in the schools they were. Af-terwards they felt that the schoolsthat they were going to were notoffering quality education so theydecided to bring them together. Westarted on a rented building but withtime the numbers kept on increas-ing, so we looked for some space inKianda in Kibera and built somestructure. Then we felt that havingthe school in Kibera was not condu-cive for learning, we looked for donor funds to purchase a plot for another school. The construction of the premises we are in now in Lan-gata started in 2008. We moved inhere in May last year.
Can you remember the numberof students you started with?
20 in form 1, 20 in form 2. Rightnow we have 280 students fromform 1 to form 4.
How do you select them?
We receive so many applicationsfrom students who want free educa-tion, so when the KCPE results arereleased, we invite applicants, butwe have conditions. You must havescored above 300 marks for boysand 280 for girls. This is becausewe only need 70 students and wereceive around 350 applicants. Wealso ask them to tell us why theyshould be admitted. Then weshortlist and call them for inter-views and ask them to come withdeath certificates for those who areorphans. The interview includes awritten exam
Do you also receive applicationsfrom Langata or other areas?
Yes we do, but Langata is a middleclass estate, but as long as you areneedy and bright then you will beshortlisted.
What if someone wants to pay?
It is not enough; here we provide eve-rything for free. They only buy uni-form.
We understand these students comefrom the slum where there are a lotof social problems that might affectperformance. Do you follow up?
Infact we have a social department thatdoes that, but even before they join as Itold you, we evaluate them so weknow what kind of problems eachstudent might be facing. So it is not just a question of coming here, but wetry to keep abreast with their lives.
We have also noticed that yourschool is one of the few success sto-ries that we have from Kibera.
(looking surprised)
Is it?
Yes, any secrets?
 No, It is the grace of God and also thegood work of father Terry Charlton,the school chaplain. He has workedtirelessly looking for donor funds. Onewould have never thought that St Alo-ysius will be where it is today. It usedto be a dream, Infact most of us arestill in that dream. Our students used toask when we started construction of this new school whether we wouldmove them here or we have some other students somewhere who will occupyit. There are those who did not believewhen one day we told them, “pack your things we are moving to a newschool”
Any support from the government?
 Not yet, we are now trying to look for local donors.
By the way we have noticed thatyour top student last year had a B+
Yes, not one but three
And do you follow up these studentsafter school?
One unique thing about our school isthat we have the school programand then we have the graduate program. Here, educational assis-tance does not end with KCSEexams. After exams every studentin our school goes for a compul-sory 6 month period of communi-ty service where we attach themto places like orphanages, homesfor disabled people, churches andother organizations that serve thecommunity where they work for 4days a week. During this periodthe exams are released. Thosewho qualify to join public univer-sities, we sponsor them and thosewho do not we take them to ter-tiary institutions.
What of the parents, are theycooperative?
Most of them are, but there arethose who are least interested inissues to do with education.
We notice your office is full of trophies…..
It means we are doing well in co
curricular. We have been takingitems for nationals and winning.Especially in music.
Personally ,what motivates you?
I am a mother, when I stay withmy children I feel so much at-tached to them and I feel there isso much I have to do for them andthat makes me transfer the sameto my students. Most of them donot know what it is to have both parents, so as a teacher I feel thereis a gap I have to fill for thesechildren who are very needy.Every day I feel there is someonecalling me to fill the gap, so Idon‟t come here because I am paid but because I feel these stu-dents are not just students like inany other school who only needan education but also someone to bring them up.
A view of one of thetuitionblocks at St.AloysiusGonzagahighschool’s newpremises inLangata.The schoolthat startedon a rentedbuildingmoved to itspresent loca-tion fromKibera inMay lastyear
To laugh is to risk appearing a fool
To weep is to risk appearing senti-mental
To reach out to another is to risk involvement
To expose your feelings is to risk exposing your true self 
To place your ideas and dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss.
To love is to risk not being loved inreturn
To live is to risk dying
To hope is to risk despair To try is to risk failure
But risks must be taken because thegreatest hazard in life is to risk noth-ing.
A person who risks nothing, doesnothing and has nothing is nothing
He may avoid suffering and sorrow but simply cannot learn, feel,change, grow, love or live
Chained by his attitude he is a slavewho has forfeited his freedom.
Only a person who risks is free.
When asked what would bringhappiness to their lives, teenagersfrom around the world listed thefollowing values (from most toleast important) Love, successfulcareers, fulfilling family lives,freedom, money, helping others,having children, religion, power,good looks and fame?

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