I just came back from one of the greatest weekends ever! I really can’t say enough good things about IVHQ and the Fadhili Community. Everything has been so awesome so far.
And as always, there is a gallery at the end of the post!!
This weekend I took part in the Outreach Program – an initiative started by Fadhili and a couple of past volunteers. If you’re considering coming out here, I highly recommend it! On this program you visit three slums – the KCC slum, the Vumilla and the Garbage slums – as well as Hell’s Gate national park (not as scary as it sounds!).
The fee you pay ($100 CAN) goes to many things including a food program, where 2 bags of flour are given to each family. From what I understand the families are interviewed in advance to determine who is in the most need. And I got some video of the celebrations after we handed out the food! African dancing and singing is just too cool.
The KCC slum is smaller in comparison to Kibera, where I volunteer, but it is still very difficult to take in. Huge amounts of the people in this slum are displaced because of the 2008 Kenyan election violence. Actually, most people that are living in poverty, especially in the rural parts, are doing so because of the election riots.
I don’t even know where to start about this place! First of all, if you are considering volunteering in Kenya and you are a Mzungu (a white person) get ready for all the attention you’ll be getting! While most of the adults will just kind of sneak looks at you, the kids are VERY, VERY curious! Even if I try to explain it, nothing will prepare you for the real thing!! They’ll run up to you, jump all over you, climb on top of you, hug you, and kiss you, lick your arm (this happened to me TWICE! lol) …Everything!! So if you don’t like to be touched, don’t work with kids! They are sooooo fascinated by you, I cannot express it enough and they are INCREDIBLY affectionate!
I find that they’re really curious about my hair and often I’ll they’ll come up and ask if they can touch it. I actually had one of the kids put my hair in his mouth!! LOL!! And when I shared that with other volunteers I found out that it is very common. Haha! Like I said, they are very curious! There was actually one little girl that totally broke my heart. She was hugging me so tightly and clinging to my waist, and walked with me throughout my entire time there. There were so many kids and there were so much for us to do that I left without finding out anything about her. It’s actually really upsetting me right now to think about her.
In the midst of this slum is a school that was built by one of the Fadhili volunteers! It was built by the KCC Slum Project – co founded by Marcus Gregar-Rive (the former volunteer) and Catherine Mukami – which was established about 2 years ago AND just a couple days ago, the program was granted permission to become an NGO!! Fantastic news!! I’m really hoping to get in touch with him to see if he might know anything about that little girl. I hope so.
The Project is pretty amazing. They’ve got the school, medical camps, a women’s empowerment program. Lots of stuff. Yeah, I really need to do more with my life, man.
And once I get their contact info, PLEASE keep your fingers crossed for me that they can find her!!
Later on that day we headed to the Hell’s Gate National Park, which was also incredible. I know I must sound nuts – not everything can be amazing, fantastic and incredible, but it really is!! This park is the inspiration for THE LION KING!!! One of my favorite movies of all time!! PRIDE ROCK actually exists, as does the gorge where Mufasa was killed!! OMG!! Unfortunately my stupid camera crapped out on me because I totally lost my mind about 5 minutes in when I spotted a bunch of zebras!
Yes, it was totally amazing, but little did I know that I would see them everywhere and I would get waaaaaay closer to them! Instead I spent 20 minutes taping these douche bag zebras and totally killed my batteries. Arrghh!! So, in the park we went on to go see the actual Pride Rock, hike through the gorge and see MORE zebras, Wilde beasts (really scary), antelope, warthogs (Pumba!), impalas and giraffes. Honestly… Amazing. Oh and I was on a bike the whole time – did I mention that?? So we were really exposed. Kinda scary.
We spent the night in the middle of nowhere in a hotel that kinda looked like a prison – and we all had our own rooms. But after hearing funny noises and having a power outage that left everything sooo dark that I couldn’t see two inches in front of me, I chickened out and went to go sleep with my friend, Lul.
Vumilla and Garbage Slum
Anyways, the second slum we saw the following morning was the Vumilla slum and it was unreal. It’s a tent community and again, these people lost their homes in the 2008 election violence. I know there is a program right now that is working to get these people’s land back but I don’t know the details of it. I’m hoping to find out more. Here, we walked through the slum (with the kids jumping all over us, of course!) and then went to this open field to play soccer. I actually missed the food distribution part because I was too busy getting my ass kicked by 6 year olds in soccer, but I did catch the celebrations after wards!!
It was the first time I saw any singing or dancing like that! And they were so enthusiastic, they kept pulling us all in to dance with them! It was pretty hilarious! A friend translated the song for me and they’re saying something to the effect of “God is Great! Thank you for bringing these visitors.” Very cool.
Then we went on to the Garbage Slum which is just as awful as it sounds. Guys, I barely want to talk about it. The smell was so putrid I can still feel it in my nose. Trucks come by and drop garbage and people go through it trying to find materials they can sell. And also to find food. Honestly, it is so heartbreaking and totally disgusting and I just can’t believe anyone lives there.
There is a slum built right behind the dump site and in that slum drug use is very high as is prostitution and rape. Reverend Anthony Njaroge started a program there to get the kids out of there and into boarding schools, amongst other things. Usually, most programs will try to start to build some kind of local infrastructure so the kids don’t have to move, but with this program, the only option is boarding school because they want the kids OUT OF THERE, asap! As I said, rape is a very big problem there and Rev. Anthony works to find victims help as well as bringing the rapists to justice. He spoke of two cases where he worked with law enforcement to find and capture rapists. In both cases – one of which where a girl was abused by her uncle and cousin and the other where another girl was abducted and help captive for days – the rapists were caught and are in prison for life – with his help.
Honestly, if I ever thought there was a place that needed help, this is it. I took pictures but you have to see it. Actually, I don’t know. Personally, it disturbed me a lot. There are vultures there that are literally 3 or 4 feet tall that rummage through the garbage and also fight with the children for food. No one should live there. Ever.
It is the real Hell’s Gate.
I really praise Rev. Anthony for doing the work there that he does. A lot of Kenyans do not even know about that place. Here’s a link to the site if anyone wants to know more about his program. A bunch of volunteers here are also looking to get more involved with him.
We also brought food to the families there and they sang and danced in celebration. It was nice to see them happy and celebrating because to me, that place is really sad. But I hope we made them happy for a while. At one point, I gave the kids there my camera so they could take some pictures and they were really happy about it. I’ve labeled them in the gallery.
So, that was my weekend. Really emotional – lots of highs and lows. And lots of info, I know. But this really was one of the best weekends of my life.
And here’s the gallery of the whole trip! Enjoy!