Kenya: Through the Lens of a Holga
The countryside surrounding Nairobi offers a rich, lush landscape—such a contrast to the poverty seen in every direction. These images are a sampling of those made while in Kibera, one of Africa’s largest slums located on the outskirts of Nairobi, and from the countryside heading west to Gem.
Kibera and Gem
Kibera is one of Africa’s largest slums located on the outskirts of Nairobi. It is a labyrinth of mud-walled structures capped with corrugated tin roofs, each divided by narrow alleys that serve as walkways, toilets, and garbage disposals. Depending on which study you read the population varies, but those in Kibera believe it is more than one million.
Basic human rights are denied. These people exist without clean water, sewerage systems, garbage collection, or security. The Kenyan government has refused them these services.
Entering Kibera, the road is wide and all those I see have purpose in their movements. Children dressed in tattered uniforms crowd into worn buses heading into the city for school. There are those walking into town for work with quick strides, sweat-browed men push wheel barrows laden with rocks, women carry barrels of water on their backs. Street vendors, crowded on either side, sell anything from second-hand shoes to charcoal to eggs. Even fish bones are sold to flavor a gravy that will be eaten with ugali, a cornmeal porridge — the only meal most people can afford.
The faces I look into tell me I am not the only one who recognizes the deplorable conditions. Yet, I see proud, determined, and even smiling faces. When I talk with these women, their grace and tenacity emerge. They express their gratitude for the micro-lending program and share ideas for growing their business. All are
business-savvy women only needing more tools to meet their goals.
Because someone believes in them and offers them a chance, these women no longer agonize over their poverty. Instead, they focus on providing their children with a better life and find there is no use in sorrow.