PEOPLES DAILY WEEKEND, SATURDAY 30, NOVEMBER-SUNDAY 1, DECEMBER, 2013
Kenyan slums from the lens of an American
By James Gordon *It’s probably hard to imagine what life must be like in the slums of Africa. *The Kibera slum in Nairobi is six hundred acres of mud and filth. It’s not on any map because it’s squatters camp - an illegal, forgotten city, yet at least one third of Nairobi lives here. *Over the years the illegal slum has grown amongst the filth. Little businesses thrive with the inhabitants building and renting wooden shacks. *The slum is can also be a dangerous and violent place. The Kenyan Government has done nothing for Kibera. No title deeds, no sewage pipes, no roads. There are no services of any kind. *One American photographer recently traveled to Kibera to document a development project (Power of Hope Kibera at POHK.org). *Maureen Ruddy Burkhart describes her experience in her blog as a ‘journey of discovery; a discovery of virtue.’ *‘With one eye I saw the ever-present poverty, lack of plumbing, and constant energy… and with the other eye I saw joy and love,’ she says.
Wire Jump Rope: Kelly found a wire and taught Evinta how to jump rope. She proceeded to practice the entire afternoon without resting. Burkhart said she gave Evinta a real jump rope at the end of her time there.
Balancing Act: Father Dan balances his 5-month-old son, Dylan, on his hand. This is the family compound where the Power of Hope Kibera office and storefront are located
Amenities: There’s a shop and even a water pipeline with half a mile of tubing connected up to the city mains. The tap in the courtyard is a lucrative business
Fitting in: Early in the process, Burkhart felt like a conspicuous foreigner, as many people honked their horns or stared at her,but once she was deep inside Kibera, many of the residents were accustomed to seeing outsiders
Not a drop to drink: Kibera’s water is piped in by private dealers, who lay their own hosepipes in the mud, and charge double what people pay for the same service outside the slum
Miss Helen: Helen is one of the POHK soap-sellers and was instrumental in getting the documentary photo project completed. Burkhart said she loves this picture of Helen because she appears to be the mistress of her environment
What’s in a name? Burkhart decided to call the project Neighborhood Watch: In Kibera, everyone watches out ‘Slice of Heaven’ because after the first day of shootfor everyone else, including children watching out for ing, all she could remember were the smiling, laughing faces of the people she had photographed other children