Text: Alma Onali
Photographs: Hannele Kauppinen
The biggest surprise in Africa’s biggest slum Kibera is not the littered streets, open sewers or the other usual bad stuff you hear about. Quite the contrary, it is the forward-pushing, strong vibration of the Kibera youth that is the biggest, and greatest, surprise of all. In the dirty and treacherous streets of Kibera a new generation is growing, a generation that believes in dreams. This generation doesn’t let poverty, gender or illnesses define their future.
Life in Kibera is challenging, and the children in the slum have seen and been through things that most of us can’t even imagine. Still, these very same kids refuse to let the world weigh them down. “I’m the only one who can kill my dreams”, 23-year-old volunteer teacher and musician Antony says with a confident smile. He is now following his calling at Magoso school, teaching drama and music to kids. Future is here, he says.
Africa’s biggest slum is changed by every child who gets to school and stays there. Staying in school prevents early pregnancies, crime and drug abuse. Staying in school is not a matter of course, since everyone can’t afford the fees. That is why educating girls is crucial. The chances of providing education to many children is virtually impossible to young, uneducated mothers. Even though girls’ education is very important to drive the course of Kibera to another direction, boys are as important in the process. Boys are taught to respect girls, and girls are taught to respect themselves. Building up self-confidence and igniting courage to stand against old habits is an important part of education. “Girls are just as good as boys, sometimes even better”, says the former streetboy Antony.
The new generation in Kibera is strong and sensible. Three young women at Kibera Girls Soccer Academy believe in themselves, because “who believes in us, if we don’t”, Fathima, 17, states. They see Kibera as a point of view. Challenges and advantages are both present. The opportunities are real to them. “Youth have come together, they are moving together and making life more presenting” Fathima says. “We are in school to overcome the challenges,” Salma, 19, says. “The generation that is in school is more aware of the society and it is ready to come out and speak out everything”. Self-confidence is beaming out far and wide from Kibera.