Nairobi, Kenya

Giraffe eating

8/21 Visiting a Slum In Nairobi

Today I visited the Kibera slum of Nairobi. I took a tour with an excellent guide named Eric, who started OAC Kenya – Tours & Crafts, a nonprofit organization. We started outside the Adams Arcade and continued into the open-air market, where people sold all sorts of things: fruit, vegetables, dried fish, clothes, shoes, and even raw sugarcane, which we bought. As it turns out, raw sugarcane is delicious: you chew some, get the sugar juices out, and then spit the fibers out. After indulging in this delightful treat, we gave the rest of the unfinished bag to some kids and walked on. as we continued, we eventually came to some more house-like structures. People who made metal, bone, and wood things worked there. We stopped by a couple of my siblings, bought some things, and continued our tour.

We soon came out of the market, onto a crowded street, and into the slums. This was where people lived. Some owned their own houses, but most rented theirs from landowners at $10-15+ a month. If they wanted to go to the bathroom, it costs them 10+ cents per use, shared between thousands of people, the same for showers. This may not sound like much, but most people earn less than $4 per day, and if you add it up, you have $120 per month if you get a job every single day, which is very unlikely, so it usually is only about $75 to $100 * 2 people = $175 ish. If you have a family of 6 people, which is about the typical family size, and each person goes to the bathroom once to twice a day, that’s $35 for bathrooms + $15 for rent + 1 shower per week per person; $2.4 = $52.4. and that is just utilities. Food is maybe $1-2 per meal per person; if they eat maybe two meals per day, it costs $270 to eat. This means half of the time; the people have to scrounge for less expensive food, things like sugarcane, an entire bag of which can cost from 10 to 20 shillings, about 8 to 17 cents USD. Fifteen days of eating stuff like sugarcane, while only around $15 in total, is not very substantial, so there is a lot of hunger, added to the lack of high-quality sanitation, which leads to disease, which is unfortunate. While in Kibera, we visited a woman’s house, much like most other houses: mud and stick walls, tin-roofed, one-roomed. She had electricity in her house so she could cook. She said she used to work as a cook, but her shop in the slum burned down. She had now been without a job for multiple months, and she and her family of 6 had been relying on her husband’s wages of $4 per day since her shop burned down. On top of her rent of $30, she was also keeping all four children in school, which cost her $300 per child per year. My mom gave her enough money to rebuild her shop, and we departed.

8/22 Feeding the Giraffes

today I went on a tour of three places. The first was an interactive giraffe feeding experience, where I fed the giraffes. To provide them, you have a little coconut shell filled with giraffe snacks, and you have to deliver them by pinching the snack kernel between your fingers and then placing it on the giraffe’s outstretched tongue. It was disgusting and awesome at the same time. I got some terrific pictures of them that you can find in my Photo gallery. The second place I went to was a baby elephant sanctuary. Here lived 25 Orphaned baby elephants, which I got to see. The youngest being four months old, the oldest being four years old, every one of these elephants was separated from its mother by any number of causes. Most were human-related; all around Kenya, where elephants and people live, different conflicts break out, and those elephants can get caught in the crossfire, or the mother gets caught in a snare, or the herd gets chased off by farmers whose crops they have been eating or trampling, or something else. Some were victims of drought and starvation, and one was left behind due to getting stuck in the mud. Once the elephant is 3 to 4 years old, this sanctuary tries to introduce it back into the wild. This process can tar around five years until the elephant is fully excepted into a new herd. We watched the elephants get fed, and then they walked away.

We last went to a ceramic bead-making place, where they hired disadvantaged women to make custom-made ceramic beads for necklaces, bracelets, and anything else you might want to make with ceramic beads. They also made other beaded things with plastic beads and leather, like belts and apple watch straps. It was fascinating to watch how they went through making beads, glazing them, firing them, decorating them, and finally stringing them. After taking a tour of how they made the products, we browsed the shop and bought stuff. After we finished, we had a delicious lunch and returned to the hotel.