Thursday, 21 May 2009

Dem Hafe Geta Beatin

 For the past two and a half weeks, we have been working close to twelve-hour days in Mathare, trying to finish the construction. It is an hour and a half commute from our house to the site and the same going home. Traffic in Nairobi is disgusting. The city is over populated and during rush hour you can count on spending two hours on the bus to get anywhere. It’s so hot you have to open a window, but with every other car idling on the road waiting to move forward, you can literally see the exhaust fumes filling up the bus. That mixed with the garbage fires that are constantly burning all over the city, make for a supreme headache. I can often loose my temper on the bus as well. I hate it when the drivers are wheeling around like a bat out of hell during the hours when school kids are walking to or from school in their nice uniforms often having to jump out of the way of these gas guzzling beasts.

 There is never a dull moment in Mathare. The community is vibrant and together. I could write a dozen stories of the things we’ve seen over the past few weeks but that would get tedious. One thing that really stands out in Mathare is the community justice that I have witnessed a few times now. On Tuesday there was an accused thief who was placed on a step and surrounded by angered residents. The accused pleaded and cried, denying any responsibility in the crime. A few men started beating him with there fists until a few other men came with a gigantic wooden club that looked like it was made for what it was about to be used for. The men took turns smashing the living daylight out of the screaming man. The noise of each smack against the skin rung out and I could see the eyes of the criminal which looked terrified and tortured. After more interrogation and a few more slaps to the face the man limped away. Some of the workers on the site told me that usually these people are killed if they don’t admit to the crime. But they can also be banished from the area. I was told that if someone is a victim of a robbery, instead of going to the police, they go to a local youth group and request justice. It’s not hat hard to get a group of idle youth to go beat on a scummy criminal. The police just take the criminals money and send him on his way. My favourite part of the whole thing was when the police walked up to the situation and inquired why they were beating the man. The locals answered indignantly that he was a thief. The police shrugged and kept walking at a slow pace.

The centre and youth hall that we are building is awesome. It’s been my favourite project yet. I think the reason for that is that Sean and I have been way more hands on with the building. Him and I did the entire two cement floors of the hall and centre and they look so good. Honestly we are proud of ourselves. I wish I could post photos of it right now but I need the photos from Sean’s camera and he is at work.

 I took the day off work today because last night after work I had a malaria scare. I took a nap and could barely move out of bed. I’m feeling better today but I didn’t have enough energy to get to Mathare. I am very doubtful that I have anything worse than a small stomach bug. I’m not surprised considering the things I eat and ingest.


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