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Witness
Slum Survivors
A look at the struggle to survive against desperate odds in Africa's largest slum.
Last Modified: 02 Sep 2010 15:22 GMT

Filmmaker: David Gough

More than one billion people live in slums worldwide, with as many as one million in Kibera, Africa's largest such settlement in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

Slum Survivors tells some of their stories: Carol, a single mother of three, walks miles each day in search of work washing other people’s clothes.

It is a hand-to-mouth existence. Sometimes she gets work and buys food, but most of the time she and her children go to bed hungry.

Dennis Onyango fell into poverty when his father left his mother for another woman. Forced out of school because of unpaid fees, he ended up in Mombasa where he found work as a DJ.

Life was good until inter-ethnic fighting forced Dennis back to the safety of Nairobi. But poverty and desperation pushed him into a life of crime.

These days, Dennis is trying to change. He wants to turn his back on crime and start afresh.

Patrick Mburu says he has lost many friends to crime and believes hard work is the only way out of poverty for him and his young family.

Patrick is determined his kids will get an education and empties latrines to make it happen. Most slum dwellers never finish school and end up trapped in poverty. Patrick will do anything but steal to keep his son in school.

Abdul Kassim also believes in the importance of education. He works as a telecom engineer, but puts most of his income into a free secondary school for girls, which he started in January 2006.

He saw the gender inequality in Kiberia and initially started a girl's soccer team.

"Then all the challenges, all the bad things that happen within Kibera saw some of them getting into early marriages, some of them got pregnant - there was a time when I lost the entire striking force of my team and it brought into question the starting of another alternative, which was nothing but education", Abdul Kassim says. 

Christina, 17, is just one of 48 pupils at Abdul's school but her story is typical.

She lives with her mother, father and five siblings in a one-room shack. Her parents' relationship is fraught and Christina is often left alone in charge of the house.

When she finished primary school, her father refused to send her to secondary school, claiming that educating girls was a waste of money.

Christina has a hole in her heart - a serious condition for which she should take daily medication but the cost, $10 per day, is far beyond her family's means. School, a job and then a salary might just save her life.

Slum Survivors can be seen from Thursday, September 2, 2010.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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