Day 3 in Kibera : teens faced their first challenges

After two days to get adjusted and meet everyone, today was the start of our work with the children at Red Rose School. Everyone went in a classroom to teach the kids a subject of their choice.

Raphaele had the opportunity to teach some French songs to the youngest 3-6 years old in the courtyard. All in a circle they repeated after her: “Bonjour. Bonjour. Comment ca va? Je suis contente d’être ici avec tous mes petits amis…”. With repetition, they were able to learn the lyrics. Very cute introduction to Red Rose…

During this time, Dimitri was teaching French, Pierrick Geography, Malo Maths, Paul Mechanics and Alice Music. Many of them faced different challenges which could be very similar to the one any teachers from all over the world would encounter: focus of the students, disparity between them, the chatter boxes, the unruly,etc…they can now understand how difficult it is to teach! But one of the main challenge was that they were too ambitious in their preparation and had to readjust their lesson by improvising and adjusting to the kids. We all realized that we were talking to them sometimes about some stuff they have never heard about before and had difficulty to correlate. I encouraged them to follow the current news to be able to understand what’s going on outside the slum daily life.

We had an amazing time reading Charlotte’s web to the 9-10 years old in the library. This great classic contained so many topics which are familiar to the children. Fears, loneliness, tolerance and friendship issue…those are universal feelings. We can’t wait to see the drawing of the barn we asked them to create over the weekend. I asked the kids of my class to draw a utopia city after teaching them world geography and Paul a futuriste car in his physics class.

We then took the bus to have lunch in a local restaurant. Reggae Music was blasted and everyone is pushing you but it was so much fun. But nothing compares the motocycle ride that the boys took after lunch to go to soccer!

This afternoon while Alice was starting her ballet class which was a bit tricky as the leopards we brought had no skirts or legging and some of the girls were very shy to show their legs (cultural difference), Raphaele went to encounter the young mothers at Uweza Community Center and Marie met the students and teachers of the Photography Class I launched last year at Uweza.

Raphaele taught them how to make washable sanitary pads and diapers that they will be able to sell on the market. They made the patterns and tomorrow they will be taugh how to sew them with the sewing machine.

Nice discovery of the day on our way back : Chapati…which are a mix between Crêpes and Nâam. Miam! Just missing a bit of Nutella

Day 2 in Kibera…and we were welcomed by the French Anthem! Yes we did!

Yes…unbelievable! This morning at our arrival at the Red Rose School, all 400 kids were waiting for us, big smile on their face, so excited to see us. At our big surprise, they started singing the French Anthem, the Marseillaise that we taugh them last year. They still remembered it! And they still remembered our names! So happy to see us that we almost had tears in our eyes. All emotions were coming back. We felt the same way a big brother and a big sister feels when they are coming back from college and see their siblings. “We felt that we belong to this place”, said all the teens tonight.

They invited us to dance and everyone felt at ease and not shy. Lots of fun. We then distributed the breakfast and went in the classrooms with them.

Then we went to visit the safe house Red Rose is opening next week to host the 8th grader girls who have trouble to focus on their study at home because of the chores they have to accomplish when they come back home at night with their family. This facility will welcome them in boarding for the entire year but also welcome the younger girls who have issue at home, most of the time with step parents or foster parents. This Safe house really feels like home when we visited it eventhough it was still empty.

We walked back to the school and distributed lunch. Today we bough sodas, rice, ugali and meat to make this lunch a real feast for them. We were happy to welcome Raphaele, Malo’s mom who just landed from NY in the morning.

In the afternoon, after a visit at the market, direction to the soccer field where Malo, Dimitri, Paul and I animated a soccer clinic. Not easy…130 kids between 8 and 15 to keep busy for two hours. A bit challenging but we succeeded with brio !

The sentence of the day that can become our motto is:

“It has nothing to do with the place, it has nothing to do with the country…it has to do with the People”. And here in Kenya, and specifically in Kibera, everyone welcome you as if you have been in their inner circle for ever, whether they are adults or kids. It is almost like a trust relationship from start. You feel like you are one of them immediately! This was Raphaele’s reaction after her first day here in Kibera.

Day 1…first impression: we all felt like we were in Kibera yesterday!

After an early arrival at 6am and a long wait for a luggage which somehow decided to stay at CDG airport, we took the road towards Kibera and droved through Nairobi rush hour (worth than Los Angeles!). We immediately recognized everything. It was as if we left Kibera a month ago! Nice feeling!

After a couple of hours of rest, we started our several meetings in a row. First one at Uweza Art Gallery to organize the logistics of Kibera Art Fest, a competition where apainters and photographers from Kibera will be able to present three of their artwork to a professional jury next Thursday. Project Kenya will distribute $3,000 worth of prices to the first three winners in each category.

Second meeting was with Vincent from the Centre for Community Development and Human Rights to talk about the pitch competition we are organizing next week for young entrepreneurs of Kibera. With the help of CCDHR, Uweza and I choose life -Africa organization, we are going to select 10 business projects which will receive some seeds after two months of business training. More to come on this Shark Talk next Tuesday and Wednesday.

Third meeting was with the soccer coaches to set up the organization of a soccer clinic with the 132 kids from Uweza Soccer Academy. Camp starts tomorrow with Paul, Pierrick, Dimitri and Malo as the super organizors. They need to eat lot of bananas tonight to get their energy back.

The rest of team had arrived from Paris in the afternoon really exhausted but ready to start.

Bon pied, bon oeil…

We are back…

One year have passed…June 2019, new chapter! Five teenagers from last year have decided to come back to Kibera: Alice, the ballet dancer who twirls around Red Rose school accompanied with her guitar ; Paul, the discreet but efficient soccer goal keeper also specialized in physics experiment; Dimitri, the French songs specialist who is always there when you need him; Malo, the Maths specialist who loves entertaining the group when time is stressful; and I, the leader of the group, soccer player at heart, who likes to share this unique experience with my friends.

From NY and Los Angeles, in a couple of days, they will be plunging into Kibera’s community for the second time for most of them and for the third time for me. 2019 was also a year of successful fundraising which allows us to arrive with many ideas of actions to put into place.

More to come…

Day 14 : bye bye… Kibera

Sunday morning, streets of Kibera are filling up with mummies and daughters dressed with their most beautiful dresses to go to church. Today, the vibe in the streets is a bit different. Less movement, less screaming, less activity. You can hear the chanting and prayers through the alleys. Kids are playing together along the tracks, pushing wood wheels, making fire with sticks, running along the open sewage watching the parents selling veggies or washing clothes. Everybody is more relax.

(Pictures to come)

We walked aroung Kibera with our VR camera trying to capture the atmosphere of the streets. Some people could be very aggressive with the camera. You have to be discret if you can. We met Chrispin from Red Rose on the way and visited his mom at his house. This lady is alone to take care of 9 children. She washes the clothes of neighbors to earn some money to provide food to the whole family. Her daughter in 12th grade had another baby last year and she has to take care of this baby when her daughter is at school. She delivered the baby herself from her daughter on the sofa where we sat. Jeff told us that so many babies are born like this at home. The mom used scissors to cut the ombilical cord and sew the wound with string. 50% of babies who are delivered at home don’t make it. We stepped out and walk along the sewage and pile of garbage where few kids are trying to fing something to eat.

We walked to the Toy Market to try to find spices for Malo’s mom. Toy market is like a souk with piles of clothes everywhere and few booths of veggies. We bought turmeric, curry, pili pili, cumin…

We stopped by David Avido’s house to check on the new clothes he has been creating. Avido is a fashion designer in Kibera. He participates to fashion show and designes clothes for music bands. Malo and I decided to buy a bomber jacket.

We finished our day to Uweza Center where we could admire the mural and painting renovation we did with the help of Uweza artists. We attended to empowerment session of the Golden Girls, which is a program for young girls from the age of 8 to 16. After a lesson of Tae Kwan Do where they learn how to defend themselves, Agripina and Betty asked them to draw “their own river of life”, with the river representing their goal in life, the lower part of the river the things which could become a barrier to reach their goals, and on the top of the river the people or organizations who can help them reach their goal like trees along the river.

Day 13 : Departure day for some of the students

This morning we had our last meeting. Everyone wrote about the main things they will remember for ever. For most of them, the good bye at Red Rose was the most emotional memory and this moment will stick in them for ever. The visit into the kibera families’ home was very intense as well as it showed them the darkest side of the children’s daily life. “I will never forget about this experience!”

We also asked them to share with us the things they liked or not in the trip. Here are some of the comments: “pretty amazing two weeks, super fun to meet all those friends and joke together ” “i loved everything about the kids, their smile, the bonding, the greetings, the notes they gave us. I won’t be able to forget it.” “Very successful trip where we learnt to really help. We did not have much time to relax and we kept focus on our mission”. “i have seen and learnt so many things. The kids were genuinely kind and never take anything for granted like the one in the US. I got so attached to them””i was really touch by one of the girl in my class who was the most outgoing and when I learnt that her mom had sent her to do housecleaning job instead of sending her to school for a while, I could not believe she could still keep her smile the way she does all the time.” “I had a great time teaching” “incredible trip for me with super meaningful moments.”

Everyone concluded that it might be difficult now to describe this trip to their family and friends as they might not be able to put all the emotion they felt into words.

We then went to the soccer field where all the kids from Uweza Soccer Academy from age 7 to 25 were waiting for us to distribute the donations items. They thanked us so much as all the items are going to be so useful to them. Many kids were missing cleats, jerseys, gloves, etc…and now they will be able to play matches with the proper equipment which might give them pride and confidence.

1 pm…time to say good bye and go to the airport for Alice, Dimitri, Jeanne and Paul. Lots of emotion as there was such an amazing chemistry between each member of Project Kenya.

Day 12 : Huge party at Red Rose for their 20th anniversary

Today was all about Red Rose and partying with the kids to celebrate the creation of the school 20 years ago. It started then as an orphanage with few kids and now welcome more than 400 children. As all the speeches were pointing out, the school had many challenges but still resisted and became a school famous for the quality of education and nurturing care for the children.

Many personalities talked between the dances, songs and poems of the kids until they brought a huge cake I had the chance to cut in small pieces, so every kids and adults could have a piece. In my speech to the audience, I pointed the few things we observe as we were in the classrooms: the level of discipline, the curiosity and eagerness to learn, the smartness and sense of community. I also promised then that we will continue to be ambassadors of the school and try to find more sponsors for the children whose parents cannot pay the school fees

For us then, it was time to say thank you to the classes and good bye as tomorrow 4 of the 7 teens are flying back to France. All the kids jumped in our arms crying or gave us lots of very sweet messages of good bye. We got attached to them but THEY got attached to us too, and somehow we feel sad to have to leave them in their difficult environment.

We finished the evening at Carnivore, a restaurant where they serve you every type of imaginable meat on traditional masai swords.

Tonight it is time to pack the luggages…