Kenya Day 6 – More from Gabriel’s School, Kaptembwa slums

Kaptembwa slums

Kaptembwa slums

It’s almost impossible to describe the Kaptembwa slums. The unpaved streets are rutted and worn. Dust clouds follow each vehicle that rattles along them. In some places, vehicles can only really pass through a narrow strip of the road due to the holes and wash outs. Most of the homes lack electricity and running water is non-existant. Every day we see people standing in line with big yellow jerry cans waiting for the water to be turned on. And these are the lucky ones because they can actually afford to buy this necessity for survival; some families can’t even do that. The water is turned on for about an hour and those who aren’t quick enough might line up all day and still miss out before it’s turned off. As you can imagine, life here is desperate and with that come some serious social problems: unemployment, malnutrition, prostitution, alcoholism, homelessness and disease.

Children playing an unknown game

Girls playing an unknown game at lunch (Gabriel’s School)

Right in the thick of all that most adults try not to see are the children who drew the short straw in the lottery of birth.  Children who were born into the slums. Children who have known real hunger – the kind that comes when you might only get a small morsel of food once a day. Children who live in shanty huts with dirt floors and roofs that leak through the whole wet season. Children who have only owned one set of clothes and never knew what it was to wear shoes. Children for whom childhood seemed impossible.

Children playing with wheelbarrow

Boys playing with wheelbarrow at lunch (Gabriel’s School)

But even here in the slums, with all this heartache and suffering, there is hope. And that hope is coming in the form of charitable organisations like the Nakuru Hope Project. These projects are providing education to a generation of children for whom the alternative was certainly a short lifetime of poverty.

The school's Scout troop

The school’s Scout troop practicing at lunch (Gabriel’s School)

The children at Gabriel’s School (Nakuru Hope Project) love to learn. You hear them all day long reciting letters and singing songs. The school currently has three pre-primary classes (baby, middle and top) and three primary classes (1-3). In future, there might be a full eight primary classes (1-8) in addition to the pre-primary but, for now, the project also pays for children to attend other schools so that they can receive a full education. The children learn a full Kenyan curriculum including English, mathematics, Swahili, geography, science, environment studies, agriculture and physical education. They receive breakfast and lunch every day, which is often the only food some children will eat all week.

Girl raking gravel for fun

Girl raking gravel for fun after school (Gabriel’s School)

It’s not only the children who benefit from the schools. As I walk through the slums after school is out, I watch mothers walking their little ones home and I can see their pride. I think all mothers just want the best for their children and that it must have hurt these women so much when they thought about what the future might hold. But with education, possibilities open up that were closed before. Perhaps that’s why the woman stand a little taller when they turn up at the school gate to collect their young ones. Maybe that’s why they smile so proudly when they hear their sons and daughters say “Hello mzungu. How are you?” in clear English words as we walk past. Hopefully, the education the children receives will not only help the children grow up with a chance to escape the slums but maybe it will also bring their mothers some comfort.

Kenya often seems like a far distant land with little relevance to my life in Australia. But just being here convinces me that it’s important to think globally because the children at Gabriel’s School in Kaptembwa are as much our future as are those in our schools at home. We are all interconnected as people, no matter where we had the good or bad fortune to be born.

For more information about how you can support Gabriel’s School and some of the children of Kaptembwa slums, go to the Nakuru Hope Project website.

7 comments on “Kenya Day 6 – More from Gabriel’s School, Kaptembwa slums

  1. Wow, thats a tough place to be. All power to you, I am living in Peru at the moment and the poverty here also bothers me, but it is nowhere near as bad as in Kenya. I also wrote something similar about here but dealing mostly with the tourists I keep encountering. Here it is if you wanna check it out http://mindonex.wordpress.com/2014/02/16/my-problem-with-third-world-travelling/

    • Poverty is everywhere, even in the west. You can’t let it bother you because that doesn’t make it go away. Rather, you have to be objective about it and look for constructive ways to help. And that doesn’t mean you have to spend money or volunteer. It might mean that you go on a tour or ride in a taxi instead of walking or eat at a restaurant, all of which given non-charitable income to the people employed in those businesses.

      I did check out your post and I do disagree with it. That’s not to say we can’t agree to disagree. Perhaps what bothers me most is that you read my posts about my volunteering and have something positive to say. But from Friday I will be spending 4 days on a safari tour to Masai Mara and I will be one of those people you say are flaunting their liberties. But I can assure you, that I am not.

      • Thank you for checking out my post and offering your thoughts. And yes, I do agree with you, being bothered by it may not necessarily make it go away, but it may wake people up to a reality they never considered before.
        Also, good point with helping support the local economy , I will be doing that. This post was more towards the mindless tourists I seem to meet way too often on my travels. If we met I am not sure if I would be that quick to judge you as one of these, when a quick conversation would reveal your experiences and what you do, and that you are yourself not a mindless traveler. Happy travels by the way!

  2. For me, education for these children is the key to Africa’s progress in the 21st Century. It is only by educating the kids, in any society, that we will give them a way forward. Great that you are there and, as somebody mentioned previously, simply being there is having a positive influence on the kids.

    • Education is critical isn’t it. As a child, I was always told that I should be grateful to be educated, rather than resenting school. As a result, I always had a positive attitude to education (even when I hated certain subjects, teachers or was bullied). Being here, I can see first hand just how lucky I was to have the opportunity to receive an education. There are many schools here – both public and charitable. It’s really great to see so many young Kenyan children in their school uniforms walking through the slums because it means there is hope for tomorrow.

  3. I appreciate your hard work towards helping this people. Are we really able to do away with the root cause of this poverty. Because it pains my heart that some poor that they even sleep hungry while others eat and can even throw away Food.

    • I don’t think that feeling guilty for having access to food or throwing it away is the cause of the problem. Some areas of the world will always be more arable than others. The real issue is that most in the West are blind to what is going on in places like Africa because we don’t realise that everyone on this planet is connected. So they say “why should our government send aid money to these countries?”. It’s just a sad reality of life. Unfortunately, ying and yang will always exist in the world. All each of us can do is try to contribute to reducing the gap and making the lives of those experiencing hardship a little easier, even if only for a moment.

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