The Rain in Kibera April 2, 2015 by Leann Bankoski
By: Leann Bankoski, CFK Executive Director
This week marked my second month of a three-month stay in Kenya. It feels as if I learn something new about the challenges and potential of the Kibera community every day. Sometimes the lessons come in unexpected ways.
This week, the rainy season started in Kenya, or as they say locally, “The rains have arrived.”
As I lay in bed Sunday night listening to the rain falling heavily, I couldn’t help but think of Kibera. In my well-built apartment, the rains were loud and cold. I imagined the noise and dampness that the rain would bring for all our friends living in makeshift shacks in Kibera.
Living in Kibera during the dry and hot season is a challenge. With the rain, it seems almost impossible. Ditches filled with sewage overflow into the streets, more people fall ill, children have nowhere to play, every path turns from dirt to deep, sticky mud, and laundry is perpetually wet.
On Monday morning as I arrived at the office, I was feeling overwhelmed by the idea of what rain does to Kibera. I made an offhand comment to Salim, “Isn’t it just terrible? The rain makes everything harder, everything is worse.” He paused a moment and thoughtfully replied, “Yes, there is more mud. But look at the houses, look how it has washed them clean. Kibera is beautiful after the rain.”
I was speechless.
But he’s right. Poverty is hard. Kibera is hard. Perhaps the rain makes it a little harder, but we can’t live without it. We need rain. Though I can’t imagine living in Kibera during the rainy season, Kiberans have found, as they always do, a way to survive…even thrive. They are eternally resilient.
And now I’m trying to remember the lesson Salim offered. Each day, we are offered a fresh start. And much like after a rain, we can choose to see brokenness or see beauty. I am grateful and inspired by our staff and volunteers (which together number almost 300 people!) who see the beauty and potential of this community and show up every day, rains or no, to make it a better place. No one can stop the rains from coming to Kibera…but everyone can do something to help. We can see the beauty after the rain.