This is My Normal

Nairobi, Kenya is one of the largest cities in the eastern half of Africa and has over four million people. I have not been there, but my younger son has five times. I also know other people who have visited it or have connections there.

Everything I have heard about Nairobi suggests that it is a city of great contrasts. Those who are more fortunate live in gated communities with armed guards. They can make purchases at shopping centers as good as any in the U.S. or Canada. The city’s airport is the hub for several major airlines. Major corporations have offices there, and many non-profits do as well. Being the capital of Kenya adds greatly to its importance.

On the other hand, Nairobi includes Kibera — the largest slum in eastern Africa. It has a population of over 2.5 million people crowded into an area of about two square miles — roughly the size of New York City’s Central Park. Most houses are made of rusty metal with little or no space between them. It’s not unusual for ten people to live in a 10 foot by 10 foot space. Only about 20% have electricity, and far less have running water and sanitation. The term “flying toilets” refers to using plastic bags for human waste and throwing them wherever. As you might expect, that leads to a lot of illness and disease. There are no governmental hospitals or clinics. Education is very limited. Only about 50% of the people are employed, and crime is rampant. Many women are raped.

The good news is that at least some things are improving in Kibera. BBC reported major progress on February 23, 2015 (which you can find with a Google search). One example is the “PeePoo.” It is a special treated bag in which people can relieve themselves for one-time use and then allows urea to decompose the waste into fertilizer for agriculture. See

Life In Abundance International (described in the “General Humanitarian Organizations” category of this website) produced the “This Is My Normal” DVD. You can order it from them and learn more about challenges in Kibera. Let us look forward to the day when “this is my normal” will become much better than it is now.

This entry was posted in Zipping Thru Bruce's Blogs. Bookmark the permalink.