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This was the response of one 18 year old student when he visited Mathare North library, and walked in the Mathare valley slum, September 2005


Dear Anne, dear Stephen,

Wow. I've had the chance to once being guided out of my comfortable life and into what is reality for so many, forgotten by so many! I must say, this was an experience that I would not have wanted to miss! Not only has it made me more conscious about the privileged life I lead, but it has also given me hope, energy, dynamism, the will to use this privilege, and to one day be able to say that I have not only lived for myself, but also for others! As soon as I got home yesterday, I wrote in my diary, eight pages of pure impressions and emotions. I also wrote that, coming out of the slum, my heart was beating faster, in a positive way, impatient, turned on by the prospect that help works, that you can make a difference! On the other hand, I also had a headache. Because the misery is there. The smell, the litter, the dirt. But then I think about the children, calling "Mzungu, mzungu" and "How are you", and their big eyes, and their cute smile...and it is this, the smiling that I noticed so often when walking through the slum, that showed me that hope survives a lot, if not always!
I admit, I might not be the one to say anything, having spent barely two hours. Still, I have the impressions that I learned a lot more, that my horizon was widened in these two hours, more than in the last year, more than tv or newspaper could ever teach me...and for that I am grateful to you two.
I will not make any big promises, for I want to avoid disappointments. However, I can certainly say, that whatever I'll do, whatever will become of me, I will think about those who have nothing, and I will want to share my knowledge, perhaps some day my power or influence with them. I will go through the world with open eyes, always remembering those little two hours which seemed like an eternity, and I dare say that, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not in a year, but that some day, I will come back.
For now, I shall try to send you things, to convince others that their old stuff is of great value!
Thank you,
Till Lembke

 

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