Fiona and Max have been in Nairobi now for 5 days so time for an update!
This is my first ever trip to Nairobi. Ive been waiting a long time to make this trip and I have finally been able to meet up with Maqulate and will be visiing the salon. We have lots to discuss and we now have an opportunity to put our heads together and work on our plans for the project.
Nairobi has been a real culture shock. I always imagined the city to be a modern metropolis but the exact opposite is the case. Its the extreme poverty that is the most shocking to me. I expected parts of the city to be this way, but apart from a very small city centre with high rise buildings and an economic centre, the whole city is impoverished. For us living comfortable lives in the Western world, it”s difficult to imagine what life is like for the people living here. We’ve probably all seen images of this sort of poverty, but being here among the people and seeing the terrible conditions in which they have to live is heartbreaking.
Since I arrived I have visited some of the slum areas and been to see how some families live. In one house,( which is not a house but a corrugated metal shack), five women and two small babies live and sleep in a room which is about two and a half square meters. At the moment it’s the rainy season and the roof leaks. They have to pay rent for this house, but because there are no possibilities of regular work, they are forced to scrape around in the dirt for pieces of metal which they can sell. Every so often one of the ladies can do someones washing for a few shillings.
They have an electric light but water pouring through holes in the roof make it extremely dangerous. The power goes out on a regular basis and they are left in pitch blackness unless they can afford a candle.
But candles cost money. Everything costs money and everything comes at a
price. Water for cooking and washing is also expensive. So is a small butane gas burner for cooking.
At another house I visited three ladies lived with a small child in slightly better conditions. By better conditions I mean a house made of bricks. The same size space, but with a roof that is starting to fall in on the. There is a floor above. If the rains are heavy the mortar will crumble and the ceiling will collapse. Like most of the buildings in Nairobi, this one is also badly built and prone to collapse.
This week a six storey building collapsed killing an unknown amount of people. It is the rain, the flooding and a swollen river that caused the building to sink into its own foundations.
What really stood out for me after visiting these ladies is the dignity they all show, the strength to carry on each day and the warmth and generosity with which they greeted me. It’s been one of the most overwhelming experiences I’ve ever had.
It’s the women here fending for themselves, stuggling to survive and feed their families, unsupported by absent fathers or husbands showing so much strength and dignity.
It was a humbling experience.
More news to follow soon…