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.


Side street


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’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.

8 Responses to “Kibera”

  1. Jenn Soliman Says:

    Have you seen this movie? It’s about the Zabbaleen of Egypt.

  2. Leila Darabi Says:

    I have a copy. Have not watched it yet but will one day soon and will review!

  3. Ruby Re-Usable Says:

    woo-hoo! Happy 1,000th Post! we ❤ Everyday Trash!! Here's to 1,000 more!!

  4. Leila Darabi Says:

    Thanks, Ruby! You were a favorite early discovery!

  5. Bernard Paquette Says:

    Love success stories, and actions for improvement. Am preparing an upcoming story for my litter eradication column. Maybe the headline will be “Psychics Predict World Will Clean Up Its’ Act if we don’t trash it first.”
    If you are interested in litter eradication stories ck out my blog, , and or my interactive wiki,
    Pick up a piece every day. If everyone picks up one piece of litter every day- Just imagine the headlines when we eradicate litter!

  6. Leila Darabi Says:

    Thanks for the links.

  7. love success Says:

    love success…

    […]Kibera « everydaytrash[…]…

  8. globoprensa Says:

    Hi Leila Darabi
    I am Spanish journalist and want to contact you.
    a greeting

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: