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Life in Kibera, with James Maebo [PODCAST] | The blog of Jack Butler | Evolution Global | Home for Evolutionary Leaders, Global Citizens & Conscious Change Agents

Life in Kibera, with James Maebo [PODCAST]

Listen to Jack Butler talk with James Maebo here:


Talking with James Maebo was both inspiring and disheartening. James is director of Global One Foundation, who are building schools in Kibera, probably Africa’s 2nd largest urban slum. Seeing people be resourceful when they don’t have many resources is inspiring. Seeing poeple devote their lives to bettering themselves and their communities is inspiring. Hearing some of the realities their community faces borders on the unfathomable.

James grew up in Kibera and has stayed to raise the education prospects of his community.

This was shot on location at the Global One Foundation Computer Center, the first of its kind in Kibera. So forgive the background noise of kids using the center, and some local building work. I have done more extensive notes as this conversation was so information-rich.

Thanks for listening in.


0.00 Introduction, Kibera is over 1m people in a square mile
1.00 50% of Kibera are under 15, low % of girls in school
1.40 Only 3 schools run by government, and they are not actually in Kibera
3.30 Only 12% of Kibera children go up to high schools
4.30 Global One is constructing the first ‘modern’ high school – with library, qualified teachers, computers – most other schools are shacks
6.00 Primary school – one teacher to one hundred kids
6.50 Government schools are full, no more kids are being admitted
7.50 Education is free, but inaccessible because of other costs (books, uniform, shoes, food)
8.20 Kids go to school without any food
8.45 80% of Kibera families surviving on < $1 a day = just one meal/day in evening

9.30 What kids do to make small amounts of money

10.00 What food people can afford
10.45 Parents punish children for doing scrap work, even thought it allows them to eat
11.10 Alcoholic parents and forgetting about your misery

11.50 Poverty is the biggest problem

12.10 Walking 20km to pick firewood
12.30 Travelling 30km to do construction work with no way to pay for transport
13.30 Earning 200 Kenyan shillings a day
14.00 A family living on $2 day or less with average family size of 8 – how you eat
17.00 Cooking on a paraffin stove – 1/4 of your daily earnings for just one meal
17.50 The importance of skills in lifting people out of poverty
19:10 The first and only internet computer learning center in the entire slum
20:00 People don’t know that skills will change their life, having never left Kibera
22:00 The reality of living in shack. What happens when it rains?
23:00 Everyone struggles to live a better life in whatever small ways
23:30 Living without heating; heating is a waste of fuel
24:00 3 out of 5 children die before the age of 5 from poor sanitation and preventable disease
24:40 One toilet is shared between 80 families
25:25 Would it be justifiable to pay for toilet when your kids are starving?
26:00 Improvised toilets and open sewers
26:45 The teen sewer clearers who work fulltime every night
27.50 No one knows where they dispose of the sewage
28:30 No standardized way of supplying drinking water
29:00 The pipes used are for electric cabling, not water pipes
29:50 The ‘clean’ water pipes run through sewage pipes and leaching occurs
30:30 Drinking the unclean water until you get sick
31:10 People get ill from ‘bad luck’ (aka preventable disease)
31:35 Medical facilities are biggest challenge in Kibera
32:30 People die in their own homes (no way to hospital other than by wheelbarrow)
33:00 Women deliver their babies on the street (a car can’t access most streets)
33:25 Infrastructure is overwhelming problem
34:00 Kibera today has internet & computers (two years ago, 30 mins walk to use skype)
34:40 Most young people in Kibera are thieves – they steal mobile phones from elsewhere & then sell them
35:35 Rate of HIV infection at least 12%
36:00 Most young girls, 12+, work as prostitutes in rich areas of Nairobi
37:00 50% of Global One schoolchildren are orphans
37:25 As long as young girl provides, no one asks questions (‘I’m a nightshift waitress in a hotel’)
38:20 Young guys get told: I don’t have sex without payment
39:35 A young mother leaves kids locked in at home, goes prostitutes herself
40:45 Fire outbreaks are common, kids usually die (locked in)
42:30 Shacks on fire are like infernos
43:20 Main way to tackle fire is demolishing surrounding buildings
44:00 How many people grow up in Kibera and leave?
45:25 50% of over 18s are unemployed and have no skills
46:00 89% of people are U35
47:20 James’ personal story – dropped out as no one could pay his tuition
48:45 James is rare – grew up in Kibera, both parents valued education
49:30 Teaching kids Maths as after school tuition, without even affording chalk
50:30 Rented an old church to teach from; after a month, 106 kids attending!
51:50 Justin Vero changed his life
52:40 When you do something with all your heart, things start to happen
54:20 Global One Foundation starts with humble beginnings
55:00 Global One Kibera School – lower primary and upper primary
56:00 How can YOU help?
56:50 Long term change comes from education
57:40 Be a volunteer through Global One Foundation
58:20 The school feeds 400 kids, twice daily (breakfast & lunch)
59:30 Even $1 makes a difference
1:00:25 Computer center (40 computers) is being used by all schools around Kibera
1:02:00 When kids can’t pay, we still have them study (up to 50%)
1:02:45 Close

About Jack Butler

Jack Butler is a social entrepreneur, coach, workshop leader and speaker. His latest venture provides full spectrum human development through coaching, programmes and other development resources for leaders and entrepreneurs. He founded Future Foundations (www.future-foundations.co.uk), a leading youth personal development training organization. He is a professional member of the International Enneagram Association and a former fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Jack was the IAB 2007 Young Entrepreneur of the Year runner-up and took a double first class degree in Social and Political Sciences from the University of Cambridge. Jack spends his time between London and Brighton in the UK and Boulder, CO and the Bay Area in the US. In his spare time, he enjoys physical challenges (3 Peaks Challenge 2010, Tresco Marathon 2006) and supporting The Simultaneous Policy Organisation (www.simpol.org.uk). He is a Partner in Passion and Purpose of the Grubb Guild, a voracious reader of personal, cultural and spiritual development, and likes to inquire, journal, travel and write.
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