By Angela Rizner
Kibera is a tough place to grow up.
“Sometimes you think you’re on your path, but you’re wrong” explains ten-year old Shaun, a student at Global One Foundation school. “You are lost. But sometimes you have to discover you aren’t going in the right direction to know where your path is.”
Shaun is a “philosopher king”- and one of the many, many bright children looking to improve their situation. Kids like Shaun embody the hope of a better future. Without education, however, they are at risk of becoming enveloped within a vortex of hopelessness.
To succeed, you need light to do your homework; but in Kibera, people are under debilitating financial poverty and energy poverty. If you can’t afford food, you are likely unable to afford light.
Shaun and others fully recognize the difficulty of their lives; most find that their fate is not necessarily mapped out by the night sky, but by their own determination and hard work. Nonetheless, the challenges can be overwhelming. “I love the stars. Sometimes I look at the sky at night and pretend I am jumping from planet to planet, and I feel free…”
The amount of uncertainty is staggering; around each turn is the possibility of hunger and brutality. Even when tucked into their homes, Kiberan children are often at the mercy of domestic violence. School offers respite, nourishment, and psychological support- as well as a way to create a different life for yourself.
In a place that often feels suffocating, education provides much needed expansion. It is a profoundly necessary tool to break the vicious cycles of poverty. Education leads to transformation of the individual and the community. It instills a daily recognition of future possibility. Education shifts a closed mind to an open mind. Education leads to the realization that there are many ways to exist. Education is empowerment.
In Kenya, primary school is free, but after that, you have to be able to afford a seemingly nominal tuition. Often, it seems more practical for students to join the workforce than to go to school. To continue into secondary school is a herculean task, to get good marks is even more difficult. To succeed, you need light to do your homework; but in Kibera, people are under debilitating financial poverty and energy poverty. If you can’t afford food, you are likely unable to afford light.
Imagine trying to do your homework at night, and there is no light. Opportunity becomes lost in the darkness.
Shaun loves school. He knows that his future relies on studying hard. And since he loves the solar system, he dreams that, “one day I will be a pilot and buy a nice home for mommy.” He is determined to free himself of his current situation and reach his goals.
“One night I had a dream that we were on a plane, and the plane began to crash, and I rushed into the cockpit. I grabbed the pilot, threw him to the other seat, and I started controlling the plane… That dream means I control my own destiny.”
Sometimes all we need is a little help. We need someone to believe in us, and we need a few practical tools to get us to the next step. A little Luci light goes a long way. When Shaun turned on the light, he knew instantly that his future was brighter. He knew that his destiny was, in fact, his own. Join us for the next installment of “Shining Light on Kibera." #ShiningLightOnKibera #lightuplife