An article in today’s Sydney Morning Herald talks about the growing phenomenon of “slum tourism,” with the Kibera section of Nairobi, Kenya being one of the most popular “destinations”. What do the residents of Kibera think? Not much, apparently.
“These see us like puppets, they want to come and take pictures, have a little walk, tell their friends they’ve been to the worst slum in Africa,” says car-wash worker David Kabala. “But nothing changes for us. If someone comes, let him do something for us. Or if they really want to know how we think and feel, come and spend a night, or walk round when it’s pouring with rain here and the paths are like rivers.”
Our volunteers know what it’s like. They’ve helped out at numerous medical clinics and social work organizations in Kibera since we started programs there almost two years ago. And they live right in Kibera, with locals like David as their neighbor, often forging friendships that last well after the volunteers return to their home countries.