Daring To Dream Beyond The Ghetto
I bet this will be the next big thing in the world of dreams after the famous “your dreams are valid” and “I have a dream.” My friend, Catharine Nyambura, who is an active feminist and I have a lot in common. We are grateful to Shaggy and Nas for being timely with their Lyrical vibes. Shaggy’s song ‘ghetto child’ and ‘I can’ by Nas are songs that we would listen to in the morning and before going to bed. We would listen to the lyrics and master every line. Looking back, I would say the songs were instrumental in shaping our lives, for good.
Enough with the songs, this article sheds some light on the plight of a girl child growing in the slums. Ghetto children can be described as tough, and emotionless. Who can blame them? The systems have curved their ways of life to be able to adapt. From my little knowledge of ecology, living organisms tend to develop various survival mechanisms to adapt to their surroundings. The surrounding presented here is a volatile one. This is a slum set up with lots of daily social problems. I remember well, during the El-Nino all our properties were washed away, and the ones that remained was socked and later on invaded by bed bugs which like damp environments. My mother suffered from typhoid as my sister, on the other hand, from diarrhea endlessly. This did not only take place in my home but the entire neighborhood.
The makeshifts we called home were next to Nairobi River which would get flooded from time to time. My friends who were not awake to flee lost one or two family members and this became the order of the day hence the emotionless personality
For the entire stay, I would hear girls in the middle of the night get gang raped with no one to come to their rescue with fear of having their daughters go through the same in their presence. Mornings were traumatizing as one would either come across a dead fetus next to a pile of stool (polite) or one of the two on their doorsteps. We would watch many girls get married not willingly but with the hope that the young boy would steal and change her life. This never ended well as the boy would either get killed in the attempts or get the girl pregnant then evict her.
Rich tycoons would come to the slums in the name of empowering the girls who wanted to better their future only to take advantage of them then disappear. These girls had no one to report to as they would be called all sorts of demeaning names or asked to procure abortion which led to their early deaths. For the young ladies who were not interested, they faced daily harassment from any man who noticed their breasts were starting to grow.
Getting meals was difficult, and we would run to the nearest estates for help only for them to pour water on us and send their dogs after us. The only shoes we wore were flip flops, which were repeatedly repaired to the point of no repair not to mention the clothes we wore. Lighting in the slums was not seen as a right but a privilege so no one bothered to ask for fear of being charged incredible amounts.
The issues mentioned above are only a tip of the ice bag, I have not mentioned challenges that came with acquiring basic education. Liquor business, which went hand in hand with prostitution, thrived. Mothers also recruited her young girls. Families got affected by HIV. Young girls with triggered maternal instincts would take up the roles of their parents who were succumbing to the scourge or were married to alcohol and drugs.
Today our president has introduced a slum upgrading programme. Does this programme guarantee better lives free of all the torture to young girls in slums? It is up to young girls to fight for themselves against the odds present in their environment but with an aggressive support from all the stakeholders. Girls living in slums raise themselves and for that matter they learn to deal with problems the best way they know how or by bottling them up. It would be nice for a change for someone to be there to ease the pressure by allowing the girls to be children.
Catharine and I got a little help; now she is a great woman aggressively urging the society to put marginalized groups on par with the rest of the society. She is also encouraging young girls to dream. It all starts with a dream