Kesheni is Swahili for “Stay Awake” and this is the hope for not only our team, but all who we now encounter. That is, to stay awake and aware of the plight of millions of our Kenyan brothers and sisters who live in abject poverty in the Kibera and Makuru slums, both located in Kenya’s capital Nairobi. The good news is, that there is a growing level of hope that strategies in place are making a difference. Our school makes an annual contribution to The Mary Rice Centre, located on the periphery of the Kibera slum. We were privileged to see and experience the great work being done by the locals. The school caters for the most marginalised of children, coming not only from the slum, but also with profound intellectual disabilities. Deep-set cultural views dictate that any family with such children is “cursed”, yet The Mary Rice Centre welcomes them warmly. Teachers, Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists cater for these students, mobilising them for employment in the best of cases. All of our hearts were deeply touched to see the love and commitment of the staff in this place. It was doubly heartening to note that construction undertaken in part by the Eddies team of 2018 had been added to, and the facilities, whilst modest by western standards, were serving their purpose in a great way.
Possibly the other most notable force for good that we partnered with on our stay, were the youth workers from the Kibera slum, led by Samuel Karanja who has an existing relationship with St Edward’s from previous immersions. For these youth workers, the mission is very personal. Almost all of them grew up in the slums and have used the power of education to break that cycle within their own lives. They were now role models for the children of Kibera. Our seven fantastic Year 11 students collaborated seamlessly with these youth workers to help and inspire the young ones.
Other places of social justice that we visited were:
- The Ruben Centre – an amazing outreach on the edge of the Makuru slum, catering for such needs as maternity, pre and primary school education, micro financing of small businesses, physiotherapy and OT services, workforce skill building and public awareness of corruption within the community. Our students also did some brilliant classroom teaching!
- The Women for Women centre – helping young women to have a voice in amongst the abuse and misogyny that has infected the community.
- St Stephen’s informal school – a school located inside the Kibera slum. It was a privilege for the students and I to also teach some classes here.
- The Advocacy Centre – which advocates for children’s rights chiefly through an amazing commitment to educating the community as a whole.
Other experiences on this memorable excursion included:
- Visiting the famed Rift Valley
- The students being invited to dance on stage in front of an audience at The Kenyan Cultural Centre
- Seeing baby elephants at an orphanage
- Dining at Carnivores restaurant – enjoying ostrich, crocodile and ox along the way!
- Touring the National Park and almost seeing an attack on a baby giraffe by a male lion
I think I speak for all involved in heartily recommending this trip to any prospective participants in the future. It is a perspective challenging, yet fun experience.
Mr David Ritchie