Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Soweto Slum

Soweto Slum in Nairobi Kenya.

Some noted differences: American poverty involves more stuff, albeit perhaps, broken, useless, cheap trappings. Litter of old sofas, hulks of defunct cars, not so much garbage, no open sewers. Soweto is not cluttered with the discarded. Garbage and sewage excepting.




Three closets the size of home. We poke our paleness inside--an acceptable variety of voyeurism to Kenyans, even the poorest Kenyans value relationship. We are asked to sit in a windowless room the size of a closet. I hope that is what I am doing, the relationship thing. How is this different from staring?

The boys below haven't noticed us. Sliding down the steep incline on their butts employs certain survival instincts that they will abandon to chase after us calling , HOW ARE YOU HOW ARE YOU HOW ARE YOU HOW ARE YOU?, tortuous choruses like bird-chatter. The question follows us like shadow.
A little market.



Round and red and familiar as the flies that cover everything: hunger. Our gifts were bread and Bibles...


...for the ubiquitous thirst.




Wash the laundry, cleanse the soul. Very clean clothes...




dry in the stench. Certain people collect buckets of raw sewage from each family as a kind of employment. Dump it in this river. Clean redefined.



Faith sits down for the day. Thumb and first finger press on the tear ducts.

Universally prayed by the women (AIDs widows): job, work, employment. The children that have followed us stand at the doorway watching, waiting for us to stand before the throng again begins the chant, the unanswerable pester, HOWAREYOUHOWAREYOUHOWAREYOU?



Play happens anyway.




See that sign--MERCY OF GOD COMPANY--stuck in a brook of raw sewage?
Mercy me.



Please come in...




...to where giving everything will only be a drop in the sea.
Never enough to do anything but hope on this day bread and a Bible are a good thing.

.

1 comment:

Craig and Bethany said...

My heart is in my throat, swollen and sad.

Bread and a Bible...