Kibera is the perfect picture of what most Westerners believe Africa to be. Rows on rows of tiny tin houses line the streets. An array of garbage decorates the ground, and people with dusty clothes and tired eyes are around every corner. Everyone is very literally scraping by, and daily survival is the only item on their agendas.
Insert Swahiba (which means “close friend” in Swahili) Networks. There is a very noticeable shift in the atmosphere as soon as one walks through the door. Sure, there are clean floors and bright smiles, but it is more than that. There is a Light that beams from this place – a Light that is desperately needed to combat the various forms of darkness hanging heavy over Kibera.
It has been a privilege to join the Swahiba team for a handful of activities. The one that resonated with me most, however, was a home visit. We accompanied a girl from a local school to her house. In stepping over the threshold, we truly had a foot in her world. She introduced us to her family (though they were not even blood relatives), and shared bits of her recent life.
My heart fell through my toes as I compared my personal bedroom to this home of three. I’ve always treasured my individual space and the escape it offers. But they were just thankful for the thin walls and roof shielding them from the cruel environment outside.
I was having a hard time stomaching this experience, but my friend Rachel pointed out that we cannot help where we are born. God allowed me to be born in the U.S. for a reason, the same way He allowed these people to be born in Kibera. She encouraged me by saying that we can do something, though. We can share these stories. We can tell of the struggles faced by our fellow humans here in Kibera. We can encourage others to support organizations like Swahiba Networks and attest to the positive impacts it’s
making in this place.
So this is me telling you – I’ve been given the opportunity to see the severity and poverty that engulfs this slum in Nairobi. It’s shocking and unsettling. On the other hand, I have also seen the real Hope that Swahiba offers. Whether it be a bag of staple foods given during a home visit, knowledge imparted during Jitambue purity program, or a pair of shoes presented during Tabasamu, Swahiba’s right there, being the close friend so many need. They are speaking truth and offering healing to beaten and bruised hearts. The question is – what will you do?