Today I had a 2 hours meeting with President Kibaki of Kenya. I understand that the country was in much confusion 4 years ago when the former President was ruling the country, but now situations are getting better. President Kibaki is a reformist since then. He started our conversation by saying “Don’t hesitate to address any issue” and recognizing the importance of this WHO Commission, he ordered to organize a committee in Kenya. There are only 2 countries in the world, Brazil and Kenya, whose head of the state have directly organized such committee domestically, to deal with WHO CSDH（Commission for Social Determinants of Health）. Since Kenya’s political situation is relatively stable in Africa, Kenya may become a model case for Africa’s policy, and he said that it is also for Kenya’s benefit to do so.
To the slum
In the afternoon, I went to a slum called Kibera in the suburbs of Nairobi with Ms.Ngilu, Minister of Health. I heard that half a million people live here, but this place is totally unbelievable. They say many people live in this small “house” made by mud and corrugated roof with no window. There is no toilet or kitchen in this “house”. Electricity and water supply is available to the slum itself, but it doesn’t reach the “houses”. They say 70% of the people who live here buy water out of their precious money.
The clinic was also a disaster and there were many AIDS patients. Nationwide, AIDS patients decreased from 14% to 6% out of total population, but in the slum area itself, it reaches more than 30% of the population.
At Payao village in Thailand, when I was involved via JICA in 1997-2002, they didn’t have any medicine. But here, medicine was distributed so I thought it was a little better.
Here in Kibera, I visited 2 elementary schools. One is located in the slums and operated by a church. It was in a poor environment, but the children welcomed me by singing a song. Another is a public school (grade 1 to 8) located in the outskirt of the slum. They say that this school is a model of the country and one of country’s top class students gather here to study. In the classroom, 3-4 students sit around one small desk and it was full of children.
The children were all cheerful, and I saw future in them. The school made them “wash their hands after going to the toilet”. It is a pity that at the “houses” they can’t afford to do it. Even in such an environment, the children were happy and they lived with shining eyes. I was deeply touched from the bottom of my heart.
The teachers were also marvelous. They are all filled with pride. Since there is no electricity at “home”, they stay at school until 5:00 and take the children’s hands to their long way home.
I wrote in the school book “The most moving experience in my life, I see the future of the nation”. Maybe some of my blog readers might see this message one day.
When I returned to the hotel, the lady who was the hotel manager turned out to be from the slum. I was surprised to hear that she graduated the school that I just visited in the outskirt. There are yet a lot of poor countries in Africa. Why not take a little bit of your time to participate in such activity?
Photo At the Kenya’s Presidential Palace. With the President (center) and Commssioner, Dr. Ndioro Ndiaye