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About the Author

Jana Cavojska
photojournalist and writing reporter (Bratislava, Slovakia)

Lawyer by education, photojournalist and writing reporter now. Working for the best sold Slovak weekly magazine Plus7dni and occasionaly also for another weekly and monthly magazines in Slovakia (including streetpaper Nota bene distributed by homeless people). Member of board of trustees of Slovak non - profit organisation Človek v ohrození - People in Peril Association providing developing and humanitarian aid in 25 countries all over the world. Usually I report about people and their stories in different parts of the world. In my blog I would like to speak about the virtue of the "common" people in difficult life situations and about developing help which is really help and not just giving. You can see my photos on my website or in my facebook profile.


Two manners of life

Published 29th April 2010 - 4 comments - 3493 views -

Kibera. Second biggest slum in Africa. It´s area is just three square kilometres but one million people live there. They inhabit simple corrugated plate huts without windows. Estimated half of them is HIV positive. There is no running water or sewage, just some of huts have electricity. People here have no food, no work, no money. Land between huts is covered with garbage and excrements. Feet are delving into this stuff. Smell is unbearable. Stomach feels sick from that all. It´s hard to imagine worse place to live.

Kibera in Nairobi, capital of Kenya, doesn´t give many chances. For people born here is very hard to start different life. Maybe they are too hungry, weak or simply resignated...

Hardly any man has courage to go outside after dark. There are gangs outside with machetes, they loot, rape and kill. Rape adult women but little girls too.

Jared had been a hard drinker before. Now is married with two children, working as a waiter in nice hotel and has opened two barbershops in Kibera. And with group of unemployed friends want to change life in Kibera. Sometimes they clean the slum, organize football games or patrol in Kibera at night to ensure people from bandits. Young men meet once a week in rented hut and discuss about what they could do in the future for improving their lives and slum environment. “We have plenty ideas but no money,” they told. “We would need maybe 3 000 Euro for starting some small business. But our government doesn´t provide any help.”

Women of Kibera think by different way. Some of them ask social workers from Europe to find white men for them. Others make true miracles. Bess has had her first child at the age of 14. After rape. Now she has two children and no husband. Fortunately, she has got a job as a cook in the basic school. She cannot afford to pay for bus so she walks to and from work for several hours everyday. The only her food is a lunch and cup of tea at school. She eats nothing during the weekends when school is closed. But she is able to pay a secondary school for her children. She wants better life for them.

There are some women who take small loan, just several hundread of Kenya shillings, maybe 70 – 80 Euro, and run their own small business. They don´t think they need lot of money to change their situation. Often they have several children, are ill, HIV positive and under 18. But they are able to utilize every possibility and work hard. They are able to feed their children, send them to school, pay rent for a hut in slum – and pay off a loan. They don´t expect nothing big. No big money, no big deals. Just simply living.


Photos of little acrobats from Nairobi slums:


Category: Poverty | Tags:


  • Iris Cecilia Gonzales on 29th April 2010:


    A touching, heartbreaking account of life in Kibera. The slums in the Philippines came to mind while reading it. Thank you for this. Excellent writing as always—very vivid.

  • Clare Herbert on 29th April 2010:

    Loved this post. You really brought me TO Kibera. Memorable.

  • Aija Vanaga on 06th May 2010:

    Like this story too, sad about content, but creates feeling of change possible.

  • Sylwia Presley on 25th July 2010:

    Stories…really good to see the life through them!

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