Kibera, located around 5km form the city centre of Nairobi and dubbed the largest slum in Africa. It is estimated by local sources that around 750,000 people live in the area, mostly in overcrowded, unsanitary conditions. Homes are generally tightly packed, made of mud and straw or corrugated iron. Families often share one room furnished with only a couple of seats and perhaps a bed.
It's Wednesday afternoon and our first day in Kenya. The traffic in the city centre is gridlocked so we are running late for our first class. Eventually there is movement in the traffic and we travel through Nairobi out towards Kibera. To be situated so close to the city there's a marked difference in the quality of the road and the buildings here.
Driving through Kibera we pass rows of street vendors selling everything from second hand clothing to food, drink and beauty products from their colourful corrugated iron shacks. We pass children in bare feet playing in a burnt out bus wreck. We pass countless young boys pulling carts of water. There are no pavements, and the streets are dry and dusty with an abundance of litter due to there being no waste collection service. We turn down a small lane towards two large blue gates which are opened for us by the guard- KAG Olympic Education Centre. Here the Anoos Africa Project Manager, Krysteen introduces us to the headteacher of the school as well as Consolata, the dance teacher running clubs on behalf of Anno's Africa and One Fine Day. The children are already in their school hall, ready to dance.
During the first session we covered hip hop basics, a few combos and started a routine. The group soaked in the choreography, their musicality and energy second to none. It's evident that these kids just love to dance. Coming to the club after school gives them a release for creativity and a space to just be kids. It's an escape from their harsh living conditions and the responsibilities that these kids have on a daily basis. At the end of the session for the evening the kids are told when their next class is and they all leave the school, making their own way home. Their parents will meet them at home after their work and jobs for the day completed.
Saturday, class today is due to start at 10am and we leave the hotel a little earlier this time anticipating the traffic. Roads are quieter though and so we arrive at the school by 9.40. A few of the kids are already in the hall and they are running through the routine we started on Wednesday. The practice they've put in is phenomenal in such a short timescale and they were full of questions on how to perfect the bits they were unsure of. So heartwarming and again evidence of how important these sessions are to the kids lives.