10 Letters From Kibera

A series of letters written by one of our School of Hope students

Letter 1

Fire in the hood

There are many threats to our lives in the slums which can be traumatizing however one of the most feared, especially in the Summer months is that of fire. This is feared as it can take out whole communities within a hour or two and this is because of a lack of space and tiny houses made of corrugated iron, mud and timber all crammed together with only narrow alleyways separating them. Shacks are constantly liable to fire due to faulty electrical connections often illegal and also due to the problem of open charcoal stoves in the corner of the shack…read more

Letter 2

Teenage pregnancy in the slums

Laini Saba is a locality in the slum of Kibera. This is where I was brought up and is the basis for much of what I know of this world. It is a densely populated area which has no race or ethnical issues since the place has people from diverse background. Here I meet people that I grew up with becoming close friends to most of the girls and also some boys. We used to play around in our childhood totally carefree but most of these people especially the girls are now mothers to several kids…read more

Letter 3

Illness in the slums

The first advice I will give you when you visit me in the slum is – do not be sick while you are here. You must stay healthy, otherwise you will know trouble like you never have before. I know you will not listen to me and even if you did you will still get sick as you can’t help it and will likely to be sick with a variety of different ailments. First you will run a fever, next you will probably suffer nausea and feel dizzy and then maybe you will have problems with your bowelsread more

Letter 4

Housing in Kibera

Now that you have come to know me quite well (through my past letters) I will welcome you to our home. I informed you earlier that I live in Kibera which is Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya. I forgot to mention that I have lived here since birth. My father gives us tales of how he left the Northern part of Kenya to escape poverty and settled in the city. Hmm, he had so looked forward to finding a nice job, finding himself a nice house and settling his family. But unfortunately my father had not gone to school and it was impossible for him to find a good job…read more

Letter 5

Rape in the slums of Kibera

Recently a one-year-old child was raped to death by three men and that horrifically even included the baby’s father. The medical investigation done on the child shows that although the father denied the charge and refused to make a statement the medical evidence and the statements by witnesses indicate otherwise. The frustrated mother was sobbing bitterly when describing the occurrence. She explained that she had a quarrel with her husband after which the husband angrily chased her out of the house. When she came back in the morning she found her daughter’s body laying lifeless on the ground…read more

Letter 6

Water collection in Kibera

Kibera, being amongst one of the biggest slums in the world has the biggest number of slum dwellers who undergo many challenges. One of these challenges is water collection as most shacks do not have running water. The quality and quantity of water is a huge challenge to slum dwellers. Not long ago there was an outbreak of cholera due to the poor quality of water…read more

Letter 7

Christmas in Kibera

In Kibera, we start to prepare for Christmas early, the whole year we look forward to this time of year. Money is saved and hidden away for the Christmas celebrations. We start by cleaning our houses; most of them are made of mud (earth) and wattle and we do not want our house looking tired over Christmas, so we gather with our mothers and plaster wet red soil on the walls to give them a facelift. We draw flowers on the walls and write Christmas messages; we also write messages to welcome visitors to our houses…read more

Letter 8

Doing your business in Kibera

Living in Kibera has its lows and I can tell you for free that not having a household toilet tops them all. In the slum several houses share a toilet (call it a small cubicle squeezed in at the end of a row of houses) with five to ten households sharing this space. You are lucky if this is a “free to use” toilet but most of us have to pay Kshs 5 (3p) per use per person. Now if you are five people in your house and each of you uses the toilet three times in the day, then there will not be any money left for food or any other needs. When you consider that the average wage is less than £1 per day and that the unemployment rate is 50% you can see how hard it is…read more

Letter 9

Being a teenage girl in Kibera

Being a girl in the slums isn’t easy since we face lots of challenges. One of the many challenges comes from our homes where we are regarded as objects and where a parent or guardian is often quite willing to sell their daughter to men for a packet of milk and a loaf of bread. Some are forced to do odd jobs to keep the family going…read more

Letter 10

A letter from a Kibera – COVID-9

Today am going to talk to you about how life has been for the youth living in Kibera during this pandemic. By youth I mean the teenagers aged between 12- 18 years of both gender.

Since the government called for a lockdown in March this year, a lot has changed both economically and socially for our community. The opportunity to work and earn a living have been rare; some families are almost facing starvation. Families have relied on good Samaritans for their meals…read more