A Voice For the Voiceless


The Advocacy Project (AP) recruits students to help marginalized communities tell their story and claim their rights.

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Posts in category Africa

Tutaonana badaye, Kenya

Kristen Maryn | Posted September 6th, 2011 | Africa

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I have been enamored with African culture for a while, and Kenya just added to it.  I found the country and the people to be beautiful and vibrant (albeit challenging at times).  So here are a couple videos of two of my favorite things: music and animals.

I know they are both a bit long; I had such a hard time paring down!  But definitely stick with it through the end of the music video to see the gorgeous Maasai women and my personal favorite, island-style Jambo, Bwana.

A fond kwaheri to Kenya, as I am now back in DC for my second year of law school.  Asante sana, Kenya.  Tutaonana badaye.

Song and dance:


Trains and Things

Kristen Maryn | Posted August 30th, 2011 | Africa

After a few of my trips to Kibera, I had a meeting with the Executive Director of Pamoja Trust.  The venue was at the Pamoja office, a large, nice house - a stark contrast to the realities of the community set to be disrupted by the Relocation Action Plan.

The meeting was what I expected.  I walked away with some greater understanding of some aspects of the plan, while some of my questions set the Director in a defensive posture.  In general, it was nice to get a varied point of view, as the elusive Pamoja Trust is so entrenched in this process.

I do think that the RAP is workable; though I know involuntary resettlement is not ideal for the community.  The problem is, this development project is going to happen regardless.  The Government is set on their Kenya Vision 2030, and improved railroad infrastructure is a large component of that…they want increased freight, they want faster transit times, they want a light commuter rail.  And although after seven years of waiting, it may seem like the community is calling KRC’s bluff, my impression is that it is inevitable.  So why not try to get the most out of the resettlement as possible?

It seems like the Kibera option is not too shabby.  The people will be resettled in a three-story structure built along a wall, 20 meters out from the track.  While they will have less space in terms of meters, they will have more dependable shelter, facilities, and a better walkway.  Granted, there are still some glaring holes in the plan, such as funding, specifications, and in particular, what will happen to the schools and children.  If the communities can focus on the aspects that were glossed over, I think they can really leverage the Government and KRC to get a favorable situation.

When my host in Kenya came back from leave, he told me he had heard an interview with a Project Affected Person on the BBC.  So after some research, I found the BBC has run a few articles about the railroad expansion, here and here.  I must thank my host for catching my slack.  :)

Additionally, one of my last times in Kibera before the violence, I was able to capture a really really short (we’re talking two cars and an engine) train rumbling through.  I wish I could have gathered more footage from the area, mainly of the people and of the interactions between the community and the trains, but that will be a job for the next fellow…my advice: Start forging the relationships early!

But here is the 5-second video of a train in Kibera-Kisumu Ndogo.

Beatrice Atieno Oginga

Kristen Maryn | Posted August 24th, 2011 | Africa

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During my time with Hakijamii, I was lucky to meet Beatrice.  She quickly became a friend to me, as well as a surprising source of information and support.

Beatrice taught me about life in the slums, made the best cup of tea in Kenya, introduced me to the women at Kibera Paper, and routinely confused me by switching between Kiswahili and Luo.  She has not led the easiest life, but not once did she seem to resent her lot.

I was able to talk to Beatrice a lot throughout my time at Hakijamii, and once she allowed me to interview her.  With the help of Marcy, the Community Outreach Officer, I was able to talk to Beatrice about living in Kibera, what stable work has meant to her, raising a disabled child, and the post-election violence.


Beatrice cleans the offices at Hakijamii two days a week.  Before Hakijamii, she worked at Kibera Paper making cards.  And before that she did odd jobs around Kibera, selling chapati and porridge.  This income is the solitary income for her family.  She says that most women in Kibera are single mothers not by choice, but by circumstance.  Either the fathers die or leave the women to start other families.  It is common for the same man to start many families, and leave the women the work of supporting them.  At 49, Beatrice has been a widow for many years.

Beatrice’s youngest son, Eric, has a disability.  Beatrice spoke to Hakijamii about the difficulties raising a disabled son and the lack of education support in Kenya for these children (hyperlink: ).  Beatrice plays the roles of mother, father, and caregiver for Eric, when she can.  She could not afford the cost of transport to take Eric to and from school, so she had to send him to a boarding school called Nakuru Hill.  His medication costs are Ksh 200 a day, and the balance she owes the school nears Ksh 13,000.  These costs are well beyond her daily intake.

When Eric is home, he shares her living space, a one-room 10x10 in Kibera.  It is difficult living in the slums with a disability.  There are people who walk on their hands through the sewage, but there are no special amenities, like toilets.  Disabled children regularly get sick from what they touch and eat.  The children will wander off in the slums because they don’t know any better; Beatrice said she just had to hope someone would recognize Eric and bring him back when it happened to her.  It takes a lot of work to raise a disabled child, and she has seen some parents let the children starve, rather than deal with them.

But Beatrice feels that God had a reason for bringing her Eric.  And that is how she dealt with her life, acceptance without anger or resentment.  Beatrice just raises her head high and works.

I put together a video of Beatrice talking about these topics, with Marcy’s help translating.  [So the disclaimer is that if you speak Kiswahili, you will probably notice inaccuracies, so please be patient with the rough translation!  And if you do not speak Kiswahili, just know that you are getting a solid summary of what Beatrice said, even though it might not line up perfectly with her words.]

Beatrice did say a lot of valuable and insightful things, and unfortunately I had to limit what I put in the video.  But here is some more of what she had to say:

Sweet Soweto

Kristen Maryn | Posted August 20th, 2011 | Africa

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I had the pleasure of meeting Soweto Forum in Kibera during one of its typical Friday meetings.  John Mwihia Karanja, the Chairperson, had come by Hakijamii the day before so he could prep the group on what I was interested in learning about.  The goal was easy: Tell me what you do.  They meet in a small cement room in Soweto East, in the middle of the Government’s first phase of the Kenya Slum Upgrading Program (KENSUP).

Soweto Forum: Meetings
Soweto Forum: Meetings

KENSUP was started in 2004 as the Government’s major plan for improving the settlements, one by one.  The Government targets a settlement, divides it into zones, then zone by zone, hands out eviction notices and demolishes the buildings left behind.  The former occupants are moved into what are called decanting sites; these are essentially large apartment complexes.  The former settlements are now available for other development, like high-demand luxury apartments.

The decanting sites are where a lot of the trouble sets in.  Until the Eviction and Resettlement Guidelines are passed, the Government has no obligations to the victims at all.  The Constitution guarantees basic rights, like a right to adequate housing, but until there are guidelines, the Government can decide the limits arbitrarily.

In theory, the decanting sites do not seem all too terrible.  They are nice facilities, at least; adequate housing by any standard.  But they are set many kilometers from the original location.  The resettled people are not given opportunity to reorganize businesses and schools.  There is no measurement of compensation at all.  In actuality, the rent and cost of utilities in the decanting sites are higher than most people can afford, so many get evicted for defaulting on rent payments.

Zone A of Soweto East was relocated to decanting sites in August 2009.  The leftover land lays abandoned, structures intact, as the structure owners have taken the issue to court (HCCC No. 498 of 2009 Joseph Mwaura vs. Hon. Attorney General, the Minister for Lands and the Commissioner for Lands).  They want compensation.  The community just wants to move home.

Much like the railroad expansion, this is a development-based forced eviction.  And it is having real effects on the community members.  One man at the meeting only said, “If I talk about slum upgrading, I will only have bitter words, because I am a victim.  I lost everything.”

KENSUP is in collaboration with UN-HABITAT, which is mandated to be the UN’s resettlement agency, ensuring adequate shelter for all.  Additionally, there is the Kenya Informal Settlements Improvement Project (KISIP), which is funded by the World Bank.  KISIP is also geared toward slum upgrading, but the intersect between KISIP and KENSUP is complicated and beyond my cursory knowledge.  But I do know that both UN-HABITAT and the World Bank require equitable resettlement, so Shelter Forum has a good chance of making their contentions heard.

Soweto Forum
Soweto Forum

Besides fighting to right the slum upgrading, Soweto Forum is actively involved in the community.  They provide adult education courses, advocate for better access to care for HIV/AIDS patients, and created Youth Building Bridges for Peace in Kibera to build entrepreneurship in the children of Kibera.

Soweto women have also created Gender Defenders, which works to improve women’s empowerment and security in the settlements.  In particular, they work with young girls to end gender-based violence.  They do fun empowerment exercises, like cat walking and are working to create a security station.  They are also teaching the women to improve their socio-economic status by teaching them skills to become financially stable.  They raise chickens and sell various beaded goods, like necklaces and purses.  They also work on urban gardening, one of many projects Christy highlighted last year.

Soweto Forum + Advocacy Project
Soweto Forum + Advocacy Project

Soweto Forum has a lot of activity in the works.  They are primarily focused on an eviction moratorium.  They also want to see the Eviction and Resettlement Guidelines adopted.  But despite their busy schedules, they took time to spend their entire meeting welcoming me and making sure I had all my questions answered.  I was not able to visit Soweto Forum again, mainly due to the increased violence in Kibera, due to the Ngazi elections, but I am hoping to work with Hakijamii Community Outreach Officer Marcy to find some resources and funding for this group.

Tanzania, Ndovu, and Marketing

Kristen Maryn | Posted July 31st, 2011 | Africa

Just got back from a whirlwind trip to Tanzania.  I couldn’t come all this way and not see Kilimanjaro.  Went for one night to Moshi, which is a charming little town, and then came back to Nairobi today.  Next time, I’m climbing it (and definitely spending more time in Moshi).

I am still working on my write-up for Hakijamii, more in-depth blogs about Soweto Forum and Pamoja Trust, and as always, never-ending law school tasks.  In very exciting news, I was introduced to an amazing and lovely group called Empowered Women International, which is interested in perhaps partnering with Kibera Paper and Soweto Forum to help with marketing their crafts and goods.  Everything is still in the formulation stage, but hopefully good things will come from this, and I am very grateful to EWI for taking an interest in these wonderful women.  Their faces at hearing about the opportunity was worth everything.  The hugs I received were pretty nice thanks, too.

On a completely unrelated note, here is a brief video of the elephants at the Sheldrick Orphanage.  Many of you have probably already seen this on my Facebook page, but I am a glutton for cute babies.  So in its unedited glory, some of the baby elephants playing around:


Looking forward to AP Director Iain Guest’s visit on Tuesday!  See you soon, Cleia and Charlotte!

The Railway Dwellers: Jared and St. Juliet Educational Center

Kristen Maryn | Posted July 28th, 2011 | Africa

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The children can be heard as soon as you step out of the car.  The pure joy of kids on a playground sounds the same in any country.  It’s the appearance of the playground that changes.  The kids at St. Juliet Educational Center play on an uneven plot of dirt, about 100 square feet, encircled by buildings.

Kibera: St. Juliet Educational Center
Kibera: St. Juliet Educational Center

The school was established in 2000, and it serves 875 children.  310 of these students are orphans, and a great many more have only a single parent.  The school offers baby class, which is like kindergarten, and first grade to eighth grade.  With only about a quarter of an acre for land, the children manage to find space, either hanging over the railings of the buildings or on the dirt in the middle.

Eric, my community guide, finds the head teacher, Jared, but he is wrapping up a meeting with some parents.  We wait in the back of the classroom, which looks more like a tiny church.  The classroom is rectangular, longer than it is wide, and there is a podium and short stage in the front.  The desks are rows of benches with narrow counters attached, and the children file into them, with a complicated method as to who sits where.  A man wearing a black blazer with a gold lapel breezes in, and shakes each of our hands before heading up to the front of the class.  He has one of the most sincere smiles I have seen, even though he is missing teeth, and the kids stop paying so much attention to me once he reaches the front.

Kibera: Jared
Kibera: Jared

At this moment, Jared has finished his meeting and welcomes us into his office.  It is tiny, about 6 feet by 6 feet, packed to the brim with things, and completely built of corrugated metal.  He obviously never gets a quiet moment, as the walls rattle like thunder, and every word from the classroom and the playground can be heard.  He has stacks and stacks of bundled papers on his desk, but he, too, has a method to his (seeming) disorder.

He briefly introduces me to the issues of his school.  In short, he has no idea what will happen to it.  He has not been informed if the school will be relocated or if his students will be moved to formal schools.  His is a non-formal school, which means that the government does not support it, financially, at least.  The students pay about 200 shillings a year in school fees, and most live in the immediate area.

The issues of institutions, the schools, churches, clinics, seems the most distressing.  The Relocation Action Plan calls to have the students “infill” the other schools existing outside of the reserve.  The RAP has decided that these schools have empty classrooms, which can accommodate the students.  If there aren’t empty classrooms, then the schools have land in which to build additional classrooms.

Kibera: St. Juliet Educational Center
Kibera: St. Juliet Educational Center

The first issue: There are disputes about whether this is actually true.  Any passerby of the schools in Kibera can see the walls are teeming with students.  No space goes unused, and the administration strives to keep the student to teacher ratio at 50:1.  These suggested infill schools are formal schools, that is, they are supported by the government.  They are saying they are filled to capacity, and in addition, the creation of the non-formal schools can be traced directly back to a lack of space in the formal sector.  When the government announced that primary education would be free (or nearly free), students flocked to schools like Olympic Primary.  Only the schools did not have room for the students, and so they returned to their nearby neighborhoods, filling up the non-formal schools along the way.  So this situation begs the question: How does the government, in its ivory tower, find the space that the children, on the doorstep, couldn’t?

The second issue: The RAP states that right around 5,000 students can be accommodated by infill.  But over 7,000 project-affected students (in Kibera alone) have been counted.  There is no solution for the other 2,000.

The third issue: Timing, timing, timing.  To the best of my knowledge, construction hasn’t started yet.  But just like the questions about the interim period for residences and businesses, how long will these kids be displaced?  How long will they be without a classroom?  And how much moving around will they have to do?  Will it disrupt their studies?  Their behavior?  How far will they have to travel to get to school after this?

The fourth issue: Teachers.  St. Juliet employs 20 teachers.  Some of them are retired teachers who went back to work.  Some are not accredited or licensed.  Some are social workers.  Nothing has been said about their futures.  They don’t know if they will be jobless, if they will get to fill the teaching positions that will be needed at the other schools.

Jared has no idea if he has any job security anymore.  He cannot tell his teaching staff anything absolute, either.  Or the parents or the kids.  He would love to see his institution relocated, rather than destroyed.  But no one has been by to talk to him or consult with him.  In talking to the ED of Pamoja, this option of relocation hasn’t really been considered seriously yet, and definitely no additional land has been secured.  **Kibera is being treated very differently from Mukuru.

These issues that plague the schools also follow the churches and clinics in the area.  What will happen to them?  What if there is no room at other congregations or other clinics?  There is no room in the 10 meters of the reserve left for the community to build anything to accommodate 7,000 students (43 schools).  There is not enough room to accommodate the 260 institutions that will be demolished.  The population density of an area like Kibera is astounding already.  The process of squeezing 30 meters of tightly packed structures into 10 meters is not likely to succeed.  And the people are not willing to sign onto this project without the guarantee that they won’t be tossed aside.

Sad Day in Kibera

Kristen Maryn | Posted July 28th, 2011 | Africa

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I have been busy trying to write a comprehensive and critical analysis of the opportunities within the Relocation Action Plan and within the community response to it.  I had almost forgotten about the Ngazi ya Chini election that was held yesterday in Kibera.  Until my director came in and asked if I had heard about it yet.  Rival groups started arguing, things escalated, police were called in.  One man was killed by police fire, and others were treated for various injuries.  Hakijamii’s Program Director suffered minor injuries.

I’m glad I didn’t ask to go.

A survey of the main news sources in Nairobi didn’t report much.  Scratch that…they didn’t report anything.  I found this one article on it, but the article is vague as to the issues leading up to this election.  What about why they had called an election?  What about the seven years of anxiety leading up to this November’s evictions?  What about the serious strain and life-changing decisions Kenya Railways and the Government are forcing on 10,000 people?

More attention needs to be given to this.  More thought should be given to the obvious social and psychological strains this is causing.  With reporting like this, no wonder the Government isn’t be held accountable to the Constitution.

Partners: AP and Hakijamii

Kristen Maryn | Posted July 26th, 2011 | Africa

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Hakijamii now has a presence on The Advocacy Project’s website!  A comprehensive partner page has been created for both Hakijamii and Ngazi ya Chini.  Be sure to go check it out to get a full picture of what these organizations are doing in Kenya!

The Railway Dwellers: Stephen, Consolata, and Brian

Kristen Maryn | Posted July 26th, 2011 | Africa

I met Stephen enjoying the mild afternoon, sitting with his friend on a bench outside his shop.  The day seemed slow for Kibera standards, and luckily I didn’t get in the way of any transactions.

Kibera: Stephen
Kibera: Stephen

Stephen was the first community member I spoke to, and he was reasonably suspicious of me.  Eric, my community guide, introduced me, but it took a few gentle questions to ease Stephen’s skepticism.  Once he had grown a bit more comfortable, he spoke with the conviction and intellect I have come to associate with many Kenyans.  Educated on his rights and the Relocation Action Plan, Stephen is staunch is his view that he should not be relocated, though he is fine with the idea of a structure built along the retaining wall.  But that still does not assuage his concerns about lost time, lost customers.  What happens while he is displaced and not able to make money?

He has a maize and grain business about 15 meters from the tracks.  The tracks are visible from his station, and they bring him good business.  Although the tracks act as a path, years of community use and habit have cut well-worn passageways and crossing points across them.  Stephen’s shop is right on the receiving end of one of these crossing points.  From his spot on his bench, he can see every person that passes, every train that rumbles by.

Kibera: View of the Rail
Kibera: View of the Rail

Stephen has been in this location for 15 years, and at the age of 43, he is happy with it.  He makes a very livable wage by Kibera standards; he said he makes about 1000 shillings a day (just over $11).  Maize is the staple crop of Kenya, and it forms the basis of many meals.

He doesn’t mind being so close to the railway; derailments are a normal danger of any railroad, he says.  This attitude of indifference to the dangers of living on a railroad were reoccurring.  Perhaps it is because they have been here so long; perhaps it is because accidents don’t happen in their neighborhood.  “The derailments happen in Mashimoni, not Kisumu Ndogo.”  No one can tell me how many people are lost a year to the trains.  But the resounding message is the same: The dangers are worth the benefits the tracks bring.

You can’t blame them for not seeing issue with the way they live.  Just as malaria and lack of potable water is typical, so are trains, in these neighborhoods, and the people make the best of them.  Consolata Odiahambo reacted quite the same way as Stephen, when asked about the dangers of the tracks.  The customers are worth the risks.  The tracks bring her income.

We approached a short, rectangular mud structure, with a corrugated metal roof and a tattered cloth marking the door.  An older man just outside, pushing a bicycle, which had seen many repairs, greeted us, before we slipped under the cloth.  It took awhile to adjust to the darkness; the room was spacious considering, and filled with low tables and benches.  A thin woman wearing oversized Western clothing greeted me.  Her face looked young, but her hands aged her; hers were working hands.  Four or five men shuffled in through the door after us, including the man with the bicycle.  They perched on a bench in the corner, creating a gallery, curious as to the mzungu speaking to the matriarch.

Kibera: Consolata
Kibera: Consolata

Consolata has called this building her home and work for 40 years.  She runs a “local brew,” a sort of restaurant and bar.  She is one of the few people who it seems has been consulted by the project coordinators; given the amount of time she has been in the area, it seems appropriate.  She is not comfortable with either option of resettlement or compensation; either way, it will affect her family.  The wall will be an obstacle; the tracks provide a route for pedestrians.

Her family…she is the matriarch.  I asked how many people she provides for.  Without hesitation, she tells me 35.  The 500 shillings ($5.50) she makes a day provides for 35 people: Children grandchildren, sisters, brothers.  She doesn’t leave anyone out, simply because it makes her work harder.

I asked if I could snap her photo, and she asked me for money.  I don’t understand much Kiswahili, but I understand pesa.  The men on the bench chuckled in appreciation.  “Sina pesa,” I told her, a bit guiltily.  I don’t blame her; the woman just told me she makes 14 shillings per day, per person, and here I am, invading her privacy.  But I know better than to carry money on me, especially on visits, so I apologized and thanked her anyway.  As I stood to go, Eric explained that she would take the photo anyway.  Surprised, I led her outside and took one simple photo of the woman who provides so much strength for her family.  As I showed her the photo, she grabbed my hand and leaned into me, laughing.

Before leaving, Eric suggested I speak to a mobile vendor.  There has been a lot of talk in the community groups about mobile vendors and how they fit into the Relocation Action Plan.  From speaking with Pamoja Trust, it sounds like they will be given space to continue their business on the proposed footpath that will be constructed on both sides of the tracks.  But from speaking with the vendors, they don’t seem to know what will happen to them.

Kibera: Kisumu Ndogo
Kibera: Kisumu Ndogo

Eric leads me up to a man, standing around the track with three or four other men.  His name is Brian, and he looks to be in his mid-20s.  His friends snicker in the background and tell him to ask me for money so they can buy cigarettes, but Brian ignores them, quietly and politely answering my questions.  He has been working in Kisumu Ndogo on the tracks for two years.  He tends to stay to this area, an embankment of the track, which looks more like a garbage dump than a train passageway.  Particularly here, where the banks are steep, the tracks prove to be a main thoroughfare, and Brian has no intention of moving his business.

His costs are low; he sells electronics and odds and ends, like shoes, by laying them out on a piece of cloth or a stool.  In this way, he can move easily, respond to traffic and demand.  These are the main advantages of his position as a mobile vendor and why he is fearful of the expansion.  The retaining walls will separate him from his customers.  The path that conveniently passes right by his stand will be split in two, and the Kisumu Ndogo community will be split in two with it.

Kibera: Mobile Vendors
Kibera: Mobile Vendors

Even though these businessmen are called mobile vendors, they still belong to a community.  They are not door-to-door salesmen.  This is their territory, and this is where their customers look for them.  This is how they get their food.

He, too, doesn’t see the close proximity to the railroad being an issue…and he would know.  His business is set up with two feet of the tracks.  The trains balance on tiny, easily uprooted rails, right before his eyes, and he does not mind it.  Minor inconvenience to face for all the customers it brings.  Brian makes around 300-350 shillings a day, which is under $4.  He can’t afford the rent a structure would bring.  And he cannot fathom any loss of customers, either.

The Relocation Action Plan promises a “financially equivalent” situation for all of these businesses.  But what remains to be seen is how.


The Railway Dwellers: Mary

Kristen Maryn | Posted July 25th, 2011 | Africa

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On Thursday, July 21st, I went to Kisumu Ndogo for a second time to meet with Ngazi ya Chini.  Kisumu Ndogo is an area in Kibera that functions on its proximity to the railroad.

Kibera: Kisumu Ndogo
Kibera: Kisumu Ndogo

People work off the line; they live off the line. It is a mainstay of their livelihoods.  Yet, this thriving community is set to be fractured.  Everyone on 100 feet of either side of the railroad will be displaced.  Large metal poles mark the 100-foot (or 30 meter) point.  These poles are signs of certain doom for people living on one side, and they are handy fixtures for drying clothing for people lucky enough to be living on the other side.

Kibera: Boundary
Kibera: Boundary

I was taken around to speak to some of the affected people.  I asked them each for permission to film the interview, but many were skeptical of me and insisted I didn’t.  I tried a different tactic of asking my questions first, and then requesting again that I could at least take a photo.  They all obliged to the photo after the fact.

Many times I have tried to imagine what this would mean to me.  If the US government came by one evening, with a piece of paper, which dictated that, my home/business/school/church was in the way of a new highway system.  The thought of moving makes my head hurt already.

Then I try adding in factors.  I have lived in the same home for 20 years.  I have built it with my bare hands, and it is the source of my income.  I am a widow with two children, and I also support my sister’s three children.  My income feeds us, clothes us, pays the rent, and pays the school fees.  I live in a community built on habits and conveniences.  I have no reliable means of travel, and a matter of kilometers is a barrier to movement and business.  One customer is the difference between eating that night and not.  I can’t afford to live anywhere else in the city, which has left me behind.  A city that has a cost of living greater than that of my entire neighborhood’s monthly income.  I am receiving promises from a government that is not concerned with living up to them.

But even then I can’t imagine the feelings of insecurity or apprehension that these people know.

Their stories are very similar, but each left a lasting impression; each put a human face on this abstract group of railway dwellers.  Each is being told that they cannot sustain the lives they have built up.  And each unknowingly emphasized the lack of consistent information shared between those planning this expansion and those who will be affected by it.


Hard at work, Mary quietly stepped out from behind the glass of her butcher shop to speak to me.  She had been chopping up cubes of steak for a convenient sell, and they were displayed prominently behind her window, enticing the passer-bys with the promise of dinner.  Her hands were stained with blood, and she shyly smiled when she realized she was still clutching the large knife in her hand while she softly spoke.

Kibera: Mary
Kibera: Mary

Kibera: Butcher Shop
Kibera: Butcher Shop

The butcher shop is about 10 meters from the tracks, and her family has run the business since 1991.  600 shillings ($6.64) a day is enough to provide some basics for herself and her 21-month-old child, as well as other family members.  The family depends on this business, and without it, they will suffer.  Mary spoke of her fear of resettlement; the fear that even though she will be taken away from her neighborhood, her home, the customers will stay behind.  She doesn’t just fear it; she knows it will happen.

She seems tired, but not completely without hope.  Since 2005, they have been threatened with eviction, and six years of anxiety is a lot for a 26-year-old breadwinner to handle.  She has seen movement and growth in Kisumu Ndogo since May 2010, the second time the railroad people came by to assign them a number.  But besides that brief contact, no one has been by to speak to her.  No one has made an effort to help her understand.

Mary didn’t speak much English, but as I thanked her and began to walk away, she quietly said, “Please help us.”  That message I understood perfectly.

Fellow: Kristen Maryn



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Cleia Noia
Dina Buck
Jamyel Jenifer
Kristen Maryn
Rebecca Scherpelz
Scarlett Chidgey
Walter James


Amanda Lasik
Chantal Uwizera
Chelsea Ament
Clara Kollm
Corey Black
Lauren Katz
Maelanny Purwaningrum
Maria Skouras
Meredith Williams
Ryan McGovern
Samantha Syverson


Beth Wofford
Julia Dowling
Quinn Van Valer-Campbell
Samantha Hammer
Susan Craig-Greene

Latin America

Amy Bracken
Catherine Binet

Middle East

Nikki Hodgson

North America

Sarah Wang

2010 Fellows


Abisola Adekoya
Annika Allman
Brooke Blanchard
Christine Carlson
Christy Gillmore
Dara Lipton
Dina Buck
Josanna Lewin
Joya Taft-Dick
Louis Rezac
Ned Meerdink
Sylvie Bisangwa


Adrienne Henck
Karie Cross
Kerry McBroom
Kate Bollinger
Lauren Katz
Simon Kläntschi
Zarin Hamid


Laila Zulkaphil
Susan Craig-Greene
Tereza Bottman

Latin America

Karin Orr

North America

Adepeju Solarin
Oscar Alvarado

2009 Fellows


Adam Welti
Alixa Sharkey
Barbara Dziedzic
Bryan Lupton

Courtney Chance
Elisa Garcia
Helah Robinson
Johanna Paillet
Johanna Wilkie
Kate Cummings
Laura Gordon
Lisa Rogoff
Luna Liu
Ned Meerdink
Walter James


Abhilash Medhi
Gretchen Murphy
Isha Mehmood
Jacqui Kotyk
Jessica Tirado
Kan Yan
Morgan St. Clair
Ted Mathys


Alison Sluiter
Christina Hooson
Donna Harati
Fanny Grandchamp
Kelsey Bristow
Simran Sachdev
Susan Craig-Greene
Tiffany Ommundsen

Latin America

Althea Middleton-Detzner
Carolyn Ramsdell
Jessica Varat
Lindsey Crifasi
Rebecca Gerome
Zachary Parker

Middle East

Corrine Schneider
Rachel Brown
Rangineh Azimzadeh

North America

Elizabeth Mandelman
Farzin Farzad

2008 Fellows

Adam Nord
Annelieke van de Wiel
Juliet Hutchings
Kristina Rosinsky
Lucas Wolf
Chi Vu
Danita Topcagic
Heather Gilberds
Jes Therkelsen
Libby Abbott
Mackenzie Berg
Nicole Farkouh
Ola Duru
Paul Colombini
Raka Banerjee
Shubha Bala
Antigona Kukaj
Colby Pacheco
James Dasinger
Janet Rabin
Nicole Slezak
Shweta Dewan
Amy Offner
Ash Kosiewicz
Hannah McKeeth
Heidi McKinnon
Larissa Hotra
Hannah Wright
Krystal Sirman
Rianne Van Doeveren
Willow Heske

2007 Fellows

Johnathan Homer
Adam Nord
Audrey Roberts
Caitlin Burnett
Devin Greenleaf
Jeff Yarborough
Julia Zoo
Madeline England
Maha Khan
Mariko Scavone
Mark Koenig
Nicole Farkouh
Saba Haq
Tassos Coulaloglou
Ted Samuel
Alison Morse
Gail Morgado
Jennifer Hollinger
Katie Wroblewski
Leslie Ibeanusi
Michelle Lanspa
Stephanie Gilbert
Zach Scott
Abby Weil
Jessica Boccardo
Sara Zampierin
Eliza Bates
Erin Wroblewski
Tatsiana Hulko

2006 Interns

Laura Cardinal
Jessical Sewall
Alison Long
Autumn Graham
Donna Laverdiere
Erica Issac
Greg Holyfield
Lori Tomoe Mizuno
Melissa Muscio
Nicole Cordeau
Stacey Spivey
Anya Gorovets
Barbara Bearden
Lynne Engleman
Yvette Barnes
Charles Wright
Sarah Sachs

2005 Interns

Eun Ha Kim
Malia Mason
Anne Finnan
Carrie Hasselback
Karen Adler
Sarosh Syed
Shirin Sahani
Chiara Zerunian
Ewa Sobczynska
MacKenzie Frady
Margaret Swink
Sabri Ben-Achour
Nitzan Goldberger

2004 Interns

Ginny Barahona
Michael Keller
Sarah Schores
Melinda Willis
Pia Schneider
Stacy Kosko
Carmen Morcos
Christina Fetterhoff
Stacy Kosko
Bushra Mukbil

2003 Interns

Erica Williams
Kate Kuo
Claudia Zambra
Julie Lee
Kimberly Birdsall
Marta Schaaf
Caitlin Williams
Courtney Radsch