Thursday, 23 April 2009

The other side of working over here

As the construction in Makadara moves along well there have been some unfortunate incidents in the past week.

We have learned that three youth that were supposed to be a part of our program in Mathare died last week. Initially we were told that they had been in a car accident during a weekend trip out of town, later we received news that they were actually killed by police after a case of mistaken identity. This is disgusting but all too common. The police here are a pretty pathetic bunch of people, they make the VPD look like a group of angels.

Corruption in Nairobi is insane, personally I've been seeing a lot more of it this time around than last year. It's everywhere, there's nothing you can't pay your way through. The politicians are the worst, the majority of the time they are fat men in suits that walk around with an arrogant smile on their faces.

In the case of the youth that were murdered, they were apparently mistaken for gang members and killed. The criminal justice system is a joke here, which shouldn't really come as a surprise but when you see it first hand it is sobering. This information is second hand, so we don't know the full story yet, but it doesn't sound like a stretch.

On top of this story, we are now getting people who have been popping out of nowhere to start bugging the makadara youth groups for bribes. I won't name names, but people who should be happy that something is even being in their neighbourhoods are now taking the opportunity to attempt to fill their pockets. Officials, elders, and others are telling the youth group members that they want a piece of the pie. These folk see white people in their neighbourhoods working with the youth groups and now think that they have millions of dollars. There's been threats that if they don't get something they will incite the neighbourhoods against the groups, luckily we are working with groups that have lived their whole lives in these areas and are respected by their peers. Farouk and Michael, who are the leaders of the Kamaliza group have done an amazing job of dealing with all of the chaos surrounding this project.

I don't mean to sound too negative here, but this is the reality of Kenya. I should also say that there are good politicians and police that are trying to make this place better, but unfortunately they seem to be the minority. This wouldn't be a real project if there weren't any bumps in the road.

In the mean time we move forward and try to create a positive change, don't have any other options.

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