Just watched the second part of the series Famous, Rich and in the Slums.
It was a heart-rending episode but I also felt really uncomfortable with parts of it.
First of all I must say I thought the person who came out best of it was Angela Ripon. She lived the experience with the family. She tried to do something within the rules of engagement. She tried to help through advertising and things that others in Kibera could do. She expressed her anger at the conditions that people lived in. She did an interview for the telegraph which is well worth reading and stresses how she is going back out to be involved. I thought she was great.
But most of the others tried to use their money or their influence to sort out the individual problem. There is nothing wrong in wanting to help an individual but this project was aimed at looking at the whole reason why these slums exist,surely, and how the root problem might be tackled. I was left feeling that they were acting out of guilt and not engaging with some of the root problems. To take out your western cheque book after a few hours or introducing the person you are living with to a recording artist (who is your mate) does not help other than a very few people. If you are a well known person then I think that you have a duty to look at some of the structural issues and help others to be involved in tackling them.
So for the sex worker I would want to ask how she could be helped out of that situation. What programmes might work to get her off the street – or is she in some way attracted to the fantasy of getting out of Kibera for the night? Or the music artist. What ways might be taken to encourage and develop musicians and artists in Kibera? Or for the orphans – how about the thousands of others there – how about better schooling and support. How about lobbying for more of our overseas aid to go towards the schooling of the Kibera children?
As I said in my first post on this Andrew and Lucy from RUSH who lived in Kibera for three years see that the problems with the slums will not be solved by the government of Kenya. When new apartments are built the poor cannot afford them and they are taken by the well off. Also the Kibera slums provide a plentiful supply of cheap labour for the middle and upper classes. They see that the only hope is more structural – moving people back to their homelands where they can feed themselves and live.
What I was left with was a very emotional and powerful sense of the appalling and overwhelming problems facing Kibera but I didn’t see anything that would help me engage with it to help it – other than to chuck £5 by a text message.