A Teacher from Kibera : The Bryant Park Project A look inside Kiberafrom a teacher here who grew up there.

A Teacher from Kibera

On Thursday's BPP, we'll hear from Ken Okoth. These days, he's a history teacher at the Potomac School outside D.C., but he grew up in the giant Nairobi slum of Kibera. He spent much of Wednesday trying to get his family out of the country to escape the violence there.

He runs a school in Kibera, the Red Rose Nursery and Children's Centre. I asked him if he wanted to tell us a little bit about it, and he sends this along:

It is not always easy to get a full picture of the communities being covered in media reports about the violence in Kenya. In the Kibera slums of Nairobi for instance, tribal rivalries do not define everyday living. Kibera's urban poor classes, many of them unemployed and economically marginalized, suffering from the greatest incidences of HIV and AIDS, identify more with each others' struggles and share a common identity as the downtrodden class of Kenya's successful economy and many years of political stability.

A sense of coexistence, dignified struggle, and community is more apt to describe the life of people in Kibera. The HIV/AIDS epidemic has left an estimated 20000 school age orphans in Kibera's population of more than 800,000 people. There is no established network of orphanages or schools to provide shelter, feed and educate these children. The government public schools are overcrowded, and turn away orphans who lack adult advocates. However, the majority of the orphans in Kibera are being raised by other equally deprived families in the slums, sometimes relatives, oftentimes just friendly neighbors, who take the Good Samaritan approach and adopt the children.

The Red Rose School is an example of the small community initiatives that these families have put up in Kibera, to provide regular meals and quality education for orphans and vulnerable children left out of the government's free public schools.