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
For now, I shall try to send you things, to convince others that their
old stuff is of great value!