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The msafiri is home! (Part 2)

Posted by: | September 15, 2009 | 7 Comments |

After lunch, Wambua walked us through a part of Kibera Slum, the second biggest slum in Africa (the first is Soreto in South Africa). It covers an area of 170 sq km, contains over 1.2 million people, and is featured in the movie The Constant Gardener, if you are interested. Most of the residents are Kenyans that have moved to the city to find work, and looked for the cheapest living they could find. The word “slum” implies to us danger and crime, but actually, in Kibera it’s a strong community of families that help each other survive. Quick summary of the living conditions: open sewage running into the Nairobi river, kids running around in rags, 5’x5′ tin houses that house several families, and feral dogs.

Thank you all for following along on my adventures–I can’t tell you how much I appreciated your support. Kenya has been an amazing experience, and I’ve learned a lot about the goodness of people, the importance of patience, and the overwhelming necessity to not take things for granted. As Americans we have the most and expect the most, and it’s critical to take a step back to realize just how privileged we are. And hopefully that will lead us to share the wealth, because it’s just wrong to allow billions to live in poverty while we have more money than we know what to do with (ie, the $100 that one spends on a pair of shoes could feed a family for several months–so are those shoes really that important?). The problem is though, that you can’t donate people out of poverty; you have to find ways to increase their income sustainably and on their own terms. Otherwise, once the aid money runs out, the poor are back to square one. This explains how in the last 40 years, over 500 billion has been poured into Africa. And what is there to show for it? More people and more poverty. We have to think of innovative ways to help the farmer to make more money from his crops, and allow the urban Kenyan to start a small business. If we could as a country, ask more of ourselves than just donating money and hoping for a quick fix, we could go far in alleviating many of the world’s problems.

Once again, thanks for reading! I will be posting pictures ASAP.

Love you all!!

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  1. By: Maria Aronova on September 30, 2009 at 4:30 pm      

    Thank you! A much work has been done by you and I’m struck of how such a young girl as you are, could be so well-educated, well-read, polymathic and broad-minded person. I was really pleased to read your blog. I agree that Americans have vast possibilities to help people in Africa. And charity is not a good idea, innovative ways or business niches where investors could invest money could be a possible solution.

  2. By: packsh on October 23, 2009 at 1:17 pm      

    Thank you for reading! I am so happy to hear that you enjoyed it–I enjoyed writing it! It truly was an amazing experience, one that I wish everyone could have. Our world would be a much better place from it!

  3. By: Brad Hurvitz on January 5, 2010 at 3:08 pm      

    You have a great outlook on the world and how privileged we, as Americans, really are. I just returned from 6 months teaching at a small school in rural India and I have never felt so lucky before in my life. I believe that you too have that same appreciation for the country we live in and for life itself. I just arrived in Corvallis as a Grad student and thought I would look at the school’s website, glad I found your blog, hope I can meet you one day. How was your transition back to the states? It is overwhelming here eh?

    Brad Hurvitz

  4. By: Shalynn on March 1, 2010 at 10:28 pm      

    Wow, your experience in India must have been incredible. Quite jealous! I’m hoping to do something like that after I graduate in a few months. It’s got to be pretty difficult to return after 6 months! My transition back wasn’t too hard because I was expecting it to be bad, so I think I had prepared myself for the worst. What are you studying in grad school?

  5. By: Brad Hurvitz on April 25, 2011 at 10:19 am      

    I was notified of your response more than a year after your post.

    I started an organization recently that will send excited individuals to the Himalayas of Nepal to teach English and more.

    Take a look at the website and if it is still of interest to you, we can talk further about it 🙂



  6. By: Eric Frazier on May 11, 2011 at 9:59 pm      

    What an amazing adventure you embarked upon. You have done what many only wish they can remotely do. Nice post.

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