While traveling in Kenya last week for work, I had the rare fortune to visit with Carolina for Kibera, a youth-driven urban poverty nonprofit and home to Taka ni Pato aka the Trash is Cash project (featured in a recent post). Here are some photos from my walk through Kibera, East Africa’s largest slum. The population is a topic of much dispute and debate. To average the estimates, let’s say half a million people crammed into an area the size of Manhattan’s Central Park.
These kids aren’t part of the Trash is Cash project, they’re just some little ones I passed on the main road cutting through the slum. A colleague who works in Kibera advised against taking photos of people, especially kids because there is some resentment on the part of locals who think too many photographers come in, photograph their children and profit off the images. If I wasn’t careful with my camera, he said, people might hurl stones at us. I don’t know how true this is, but for the most part heeded the warning.
Layers of trash
As you can see, trash is such a part of the landscape it is indistinguishable from the ground. At times it was impossible to tell if we were walking on mud or plastic. Trash is Cash teaches youth from Kibera how to sort reusable material, collect it form their neighbors and wash and shred plastic to sell to Kenyan recycling companies. They started out just collecting plastic but soon discovered they could quadruple profits by cleaning and shredding. I didn’t have a chance to see any of this in action on this trip, but hope to get a trash-specific tour on my next visit to Nairobi. Here’s a blog post with a bit more info on the project.
And for anyone who missed it, here again is the Trash is Cash music video featuring Kenyan artists. I am truly humbled and inspired by these kids.
Apologies for the light posting of late, I’ve been traveling with shitty internet access.
P.S. This is everydaytrash.com’s 1000th post. Thank you all for sticking with me, especially those of you who send me tips and most especially my partner in trash, Victor. Here’s a link to the very first post published on August 27th, 2006.