Considered to be the one of the largest urban townships in Africa housing more than 1 million people, Kibera provides an eclectic mix of tradition and culture as well as insight into the harsh realities that many young people face in their lives.
With many parents and young people ‘hustling’; selling tomatoes, charcoal and chapati along the myriad of narrow dirt lanes that crisscross through the vast expanse of small tin roof shops and houses, each are trying to make a few shillings to feed their families and cover costs of education.
Young people and their parents provide one of the greatest insights into the lives of others, the challenges that they face, their determination to do better and their resilience in the face of corruption, exploitation and adversity.
Our journey into Kibera takes us past a number of schools, crossing the railway line, taking a quick glance left and right and then along those dirt lanes. We step across a narrow ditch and into a small compound of half a dozen houses where chickens roam amongst the children who are playing whilst their mothers or elder siblings complete chores. Washing adorns the lines that seem to connect each house, maximising every inch available. Set in the corner of this compound is community school, where we host Amuka Twende mentorship activities. With regular attendance of 60 boys and girls aged between 12 and 18 years; a higher percentage of our mentees are girls.
When our guests visit families such as these they hear how mothers aspire for their daughters to have better opportunities than they did, and their sons to grow into responsible young men. The young people who participate in Amuka Twende share insights; leaving home at 5am to walk across Kibera to reach school, calling into the mentorship programme from 5pm to 7.30pm and then returning home to complete chores, look after younger siblings and complete their homework.
Amuka Twende in Kibera is critical, not only in developing the confidence and skills of young people, but protecting them from exploitation and abuse.