I returned joining a team that's working on a water filtration system. There are currently 20,000 people living in the slum and last year the team was able to get 2 water filter systems donated by Rain Catcher and put in place--they help about 100 people each. We went back and re-evaluated how they're doing, if they're been kept up, how effective they've been, etc. We were pleasantly surprised. The groups of people that have a water filter in their area are using it, cleaning it, the people haven't been sick in these areas and completely dodged the cholera outbreak...which is obviously wonderful!
So today we toured around talking to little groups of people throughout the slum to identify hypothetically how many more we'd need, which adults would be responsible for the filters and would take care of the upkeep, etc. They could easily use 50 more water filters. The problem is that they cost 30 pounds to buy...so 55 U.S. dollars.
We visited many areas within the slum asking lots of questions. All of them are bathing in the nearby river--that is really dirty. The drinking water is purchased for 200 shillings from one of two men selling it within the slum. The water they're selling is not even clean...just cleaner than the river. So the people have been really sick in these areas, lots of diarrhea, etc. So to give you an idea, each of these "neighborhoods" (they're not separate in any way...just groups within the slum) have about 10 houses/huts and have 50-100 people living in the neighborhood. They share ONE toilet--which is literally a hole in the ground and when it fills up they dig a new one. They also share ONE "shower"...which is pictured below. It's essentially an area that has tarps more or less covering up to your shoulders. You scoop up a bucket of water from the river and that's your shower.
I love taking pictures...especially in the slum for some reason. The people are so real. There's nothing fake about them. I saw this little boy crouching next to one of the huts watching us during our visit and just found him so beautiful. The eyes of these people just pull me in.
Here's another little guy that I just came upon. He was just watching our group but didn't notice me pull out my camera. It's just so easy for me to photograph within the slum. And I almost filmed the boda ride out of there for you. I might do it next time. There's so much I want you to see that I can't describe with words, nor can they be fit within a snapshot.
While her story breaks my heart, what might have been equally hard to swallow was her demeanor. When the translator would ask her questions, she didn't look at his face once. She would be looking to the side, but wouldn't look at you in the eyes. Her arms were crossed across her chest, her fingers playing with her collar bone. I asked the man if I could give her a hug (feeling completely helpless and not knowing what to do), she seemed nervous about it. I couldn't help but get the feeling that the only form of physical touch she's familiar with isn't to express love. We spent the rest of the tour just aching for this girl--Deborah is her name. I don't know what to do with her, but the feeling she left in our hearts has us wanting some way to fix the horrible things that this little 11 year-old is having to live with.
On a lighter note...I hope my posts are never depressing. Little things that fascinate me are the things the children do for fun. A girl in the slum had some long pieces of grass or hay...or something braided together to be a jump rope. While we were in her part of the slum she's jump through her homemade rope blissfully happy. Other kids draw in the dirt with a rock and play hopscotch. Then I ran across these two boys having a handstand contest. It needed to be photographed.