Life is Difficult in Dagoretti's Impoverished Villages
Everyday life is a challenge in Nairobi's impoverished areas. In Dagoretti, a series of "villages" have sprung up. Living conditions are crowded. Most families live in row houses constructed of corrugated steel packed closely together. Each family shares one, or if they are slightly less destitute, two small rooms. Clothing is hung on nails pounded into the walls. There is no running water and almost no one has electricity. Bathrooms are pit latrines shared by multiple families. Food is cooked outdoors with charcoal or wood. The streets are usually dirt and become rutted and muddy during the rainy season.
A Walk is an Adventure
Walking the streets in the Dagoretti "villages" is a fascinating adventure. People of all ages are on the street or in front of their small one-room shops. Many of the people around you are friendly and will smile at you as you walk by. They greet each other with big smiles and handshakes. Children run everywhere. Goats, chickens and the occasional cow all mingle with the people even in these urban areas.
There are shops selling a few vegetables, beauty salons, charcoal dealers and places to get a car battery charged to power a T.V. or radio. The occasional car bumps slowly by passing the hand-drawn two-wheeled carts full of wood, or water or something else to sell. There is always something interesting to see.
AIDS Make Life Much Harder
For the typical person in the Dagoretti "villages" life is difficult, but not desperate. Life gets much tougher for children whose parents suffer from or have died of AIDS. A meal is an uncertain event. Some days the parent or guardian can work and there is money for food. Other days they may be too ill to work and the children go hungry. There is little money for school. Public schools are very crowded and of low quality. Absenteeism is frequent for children whose lives are affected by AIDS, as they often have to miss school to take care of a sibling when their parent or guardian is ill. Children living in these circumstances are often more quiet, less hopeful and smile far less often than the norm. They are simply surviving with little optimism about the future.