Imagine living in the largest urban slum in Africa where electricity, and running water are non-existent. Where this year, some families cannot afford to send their children to school. Despite these challenges, young people like Musila John Muisyo are overcoming adversity to change the course of their lives.
“I am a 22 year old young man born, raised and still living in the largest informal settlement known as Kibera, which is inhabited by approximately a million people today,” says Musila, “people from other places see Kibera as a slum but I will always see it as home.”
“I have managed to attend university living here, and so can everyone. I study Electrical Engineering in a local university. I have it in my mind that I will be successful in time to come.”
Kibera is the largest slum in Nairobi, Kenya, and it is the largest urban slum in the entire continent of Africa. Most of Kibera residents live in extreme poverty earning less than $1 a day. The unemployment rate is high, and due to the scarcity of water communicable diseases related to poor hygiene are rampant. The Kenyan Government has initiated a programme to replace the slum with residential district of apartment buildings with some being built in stages, and residents being relocated there. However, construction and relocation does take time.
“I joined the Edmund Rice Karibu Camps three years ago, and it has really had a positive impact on me. I have seen its impact on me, others in town and on hundreds of children in Kibera,” says Musila, “I have developed my leadership traits by giving myself in service to others.”
“Through camps, community outreach and visits to centres I am in a unique position to appreciate diversity in life. I see many people live positively, and this inspires change.”
The Karibu Camps are well-established with a successful programme. The camps provide recreational, educational and personal development opportunities to children and young adults who otherwise would not have any. Several times a year, the camps bring together children and young adults from Kibera to explore good and meaningful relationships, and to empower them to live positive lives by focusing on their vocations whatever they may be.
Transformation through the camps is achieved by establishing Big Brother – Big Sister relationships so that children and young adults can be mentored. The relationship is built with recreational activity camps, artistic activities and seminars. Big Brothers and Big Sisters help empower children and young adults to enhance their life skills through discussions, and communication activities on topics that impact them in their environment like saying no to alcohol and drugs, and family relationships.