Today was one of those times that you find yourself unable to truly express what you have seen and felt. We left early to travel to the Kibera Slum. Kibera is only 3 miles from the Nairobi city center. There is conflict as to the population, but a conservative estimation is over one million people living in an area of approx. one square mile crammed with tin and mud shacks. There is absolutely no way to describe the sense of loss and rejection as you attempt to walk through the alleys that full of garbage and sewage. The smells assault you, but it’s the sights of small children running through those walkways and watching them disappear into little shacks behind torn fabric for doors.
We had requested that Africa HEART allow us a visit to Kibera. Africa HEART’s ministry within the slum is called WEEP (Women’s Equal Education Project) Through this program women who have been diagnosed with HIV-Aids are taught to sew and make crafts to help sustain them and their children.
We were greeted by a group of 10 women singing and clapping to welcome us. We gathered in a small meeting room. Each of the women shared their stories of how they discovered they had AIDS and being faced with certain death. All were either widowed (husbands died of AIDS) or were left by the men who had given them AIDS. Now they faced trying to care for their children without any financial support. Each was told of the WEEP program and were able to become part of a group of 10 other women. There are 7 groups throughout Kibera. The project takes 18 months from helping women cope with AIDS along with spiritual support and training. Read more about this fantastic ministry at www.africaheart.com
We had brought 3 bags of food items to deliver to 3 homes of the WEEP women and their families. The first house took us 15 minutes to negotiate through the winding alleys of tin shacks and ruts filled with sewage. Finally we found our way to Linda’s home that was no more than 8×8 room that included their living, sleeping and cooking area for a family of 5 kids.
We were then taken to another area of Kibera to visit two other homes.
Millicent’s house was made of mud. It too, was no more than 8×8 with a very small window for light. You see the entire house in this one picture. This is where she and her family and sleep and eat. She told Kylie that she just prays that she will live long enough to have a granddaughter.
Just a short walk from Millicent’s house was where Carol lived. Her personality and joy radiated. Along with having HIV Aids she is now waiting to find out if she has cervical cancer. Her three daughters live with her father up country. When asked if she is fearful living alone she said; “with God there is no fear”. Her trust and love for God spilled out over all of us and we all could not help but embrace her as a sister. We prayed for each of these women and their families, yet I think, they could have taught us so much more about faith, trust and love for God.
“He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
He seats them with princes and has them
inherit a throne of honor” I Sam. 2:8