Sponsored family from Kibera slum
Feb 3 2014

Waking up in Kibera slum

Elizabeth (left) and Monica (right) model their school uniforms with their mother Rosalia outside their home in Kibera.

Elizabeth (left) and Monica (right) model their school uniforms with their mother Rosalia outside their home in Kibera.

Getting up early for school has been the bane of many mornings. The task seems especially annoying within the throes of teen-dom, with each additional minute clinging to the pillow a victory in the name of sleep.

Then follows the requisite preparations of bathing, brushing teeth, fixing hair, etc. … The lucky ones get to do this without having to share while others must vie for space with siblings and family members.

But how would it feel to not only have to share with family, but with the entire neighborhood?

Elizabeth and Monica are sisters living in Kenya’s Kibera slum, just a few kilometers from downtown Nairobi.

Though Elizabeth is an Unbound sponsored student and her family situation has greatly improved, they still live in a home without electricity or running water.

So the sisters make use of the community bathroom in their area, one of several scattered throughout Kibera.

“To avoid the long queue at the community bathroom, I wake up at 4:45,” Monica said. “I take a quick bath, dress, eat breakfast, brush my teeth and rush to school.”

Elizabeth avoids the community bath in the mornings by taking hers in the evenings. Because it is a public bathroom, it is only open during certain hours and it costs 5 Kenyan shillings (6 cents) per use.

“Living in the Kibera slums has not been easy,” Elizabeth shared. “However, I keep on encouraging myself that if I study hard and obtain good grades, I will get a good job and bring my family out of the slums.”

Monica takes her turn cooking on their makeshift stove.

Monica takes her turn cooking on their makeshift stove.

“I leave earlier than my sister because my classes start early,” Monica said. “It is usually very early in the morning, and it is sometimes scary walking alone.”

“[Kibera] is sometimes very scary,” she continued, “because some of the people who are our neighbors are thugs who carry guns around. It is also not a clean environment. There is raw sewage everywhere, and there are not enough toilets for the people.”

Despite the challenges, both girls keep their focus on school.

“When I get home from school, I wash my uniform and socks,” Elizabeth said. “I have two pairs of uniforms, but I like alternating them so that every day I go to school with a clean set.”

Her sister follows a similar routine and they divide the household chores evenly before settling down to work on homework.

“I am happy that I have made it this far,” Elizabeth said. “Many girls my age have dropped out of school due to lack of school fees and now they engage in risky behavior such as prostitution.”

“I am proud that I am in school and I have hope in my life.”

Regina Mburu, Unbound communication center liaison in Africa, contributed information to this report.
By Jordan Kimbrell, Unbound writer/editor

Related links:

Sponsor a child in Kenya today

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5 thoughts on “Waking up in Kibera slum”

  1. My heart overflows with joy to feel the extraordinary hope of these two beautiful young women.

    As Elizabeth’s sponsor, my husband and I feel privileged to know her. We’re proud of Elizabeth’s determination to lead a good life with her family. We are grateful to Unbound for helping to make this possible.

    May God continue to bless Monica, Elizabeth, and all of their family now and forever.

  2. I enjoy staying in touch with unbound. I have sponsored an elderly lady in Honduras. I sponsored a young girl from the Philippines for about 20 years until she graduated from college. Now she has a job and is helping her siblings with their education. I think Unbound is terrific . My condolences on the death of Bob. Our prayers are with his family.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Isidoro. We certainly enjoy when our sponsors stay in touch. It’s great to hear about your sponsored friend’s success with school, and we hope your relationship with your sponsored elder is just as rewarding.

      -Jordan Kimbrell, Unbound writer/editor

  3. The girl should be ambitious and love God.In presence of God gun is nothing .Vote of thanks to UNBOUND for making live of Monica, her sister Elizabeth and her mother Rosalia to have hope.Life in Kibera is not all that soft but since schools are there let me take this chance to give motivate them for I hopefully predict bright future for them.Better still I am among UNBOUND beneficiary and made it to university.

    1. Thanks so much for your encouraging words, Mucee. We’re so glad that you were able to attend university. We know how valuable a good education is. – Jordan Kimbrell, Unbound writer/editor

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