Organising my thoughts is the hardest thing. Writing them almost impossible. Procrastination seems a good way to survive my mental struggles. I get at the end of the day that I have no energy to deal with thoughts. I hate my thoughts. Sometimes they are too challenging. When you are exhausted is the least thing you need. An hyperactive brain. Days here are flowing fast and sometimes they just not going as you wished. My hands are scraping cement, braking brunches and drawing under the hotter sun on the earth: Africa. The kids are a pure joy, their smile seems not to look to what life put them into already: poverty and resignation. For some it won’t be like that, I can see it.I know some of them will do very well in life. For others, even if I want to be positive, it won’t be like this. This is why I am more needed here then anywhere else.
We are trying to make the skatepark of Shangilia, (the only one in Kenya and the second one in East Africa) a better place for the kids. However this requires so much work and so many people that sometimes I question myself, Why? Why did I put myself in such situation. I could be in London, be a painter and stand by the people I love. Well, the answer is that is not in my nature a life of comforts. I repeat to myself that an easy life is not for me. Overall I want to help kids and people who certainly didn’t have the same privileges as me.
Shangilia is in the Kibagare slum and It’s a paradise inside the hell. Literally. In the other side there is ‘the jungle’, just abandoned buildings inside vast lands of trees, bushes and nature. I love nature. I was told to don’t go though the slum alone for my own security. So far I haven’t gone through the slum alone. However I know that I will, when I will feel more confident to hung around. After all it is my neighborhood. Here poverty is wrecking but it is also an eye opener. It really teaches a lot about the world we live in and how lucky we are to be born ‘in the privileged side of the world’.
Some women are sitting on the shore of their shacks selling any kind of goods, eggs, vegetables, clothes, some other just wondering around. Kids are smiling like a Cheshire cat. They always say hello and look at the white foreign with surprise and curiosity. Everywhere smells urine and faeces, rubbish spreads over every corner of the slum like if it was part of the house decorations. Men are building new shacks, or playing stupid games or shouting at each other for some things that went wrong. Fuck knows what went wrong. Some of them shouts to us ‘mzungo’ (white) ‘karibu hata’, some others ‘if I want to marry them’ and so on. Finally I glimpse the end of this colorful and vibrant hell. A matatu is waiting for us to jump in and leave. Some of the people in the are literally hanging outside of the door holding to the bus handle. I find it one of the most dangerous thing you could ever think to do, but apparently here is normal. I saw many people doing this with no problem.
We finally got to Nairobi city centre or in other words, the hell. Matatus were going fast and furious around the city. They drive so crazy that I have to think that there is a guardian angel to protect me. Street vendors are waltzing across the streets trying to sell whatever you can imagine: socks, electronics, TVs, clothes, food, shoes etc etc… some people stop us saying again ‘Welcome to Kenya’. The smell is unbearable, there is smell of gasoline everywhere and black smoke coming from the car mechanics. A black smoke under colorful and sunny vibes. An interesting contrast to say the least. Kenneth is one of the teacher who is walking us around the city. He has a very heartbreaking family story, however he didn’t give up on life and become what I call an ‘achiever’ . A great teacher, a great personality and a very smiling person! Love him. We shared our stories this morning. He was very curious about mine and so I was. Around the crazy city vibes we are on a mission: finding a tripod for the camera. By the way I am not just improvising myself as a yoga teacher, art teacher, painter, fixer and football coach but also as video maker and video editor. I need this tripod in order to film all the changes of the skatepark and also to leave to the children memories. Something that they can look in the future and remember it. After doing many negotiations I ended up not finding a cheap tripod. Nairobi is an expensive surreal city, were there are the rich and the poor, nothing else in the middle. Finally we are on our way back towards the market, which is 20 mins walking from Shangilia. The market, what a vibrant place. Nonetheless just an extension of the slum, just with bigger vegetable stoles and more friendly people.
When we were back in Shangilia there were some guys teaching children to skate. I didn’t know that every Thursday the only skatepark of Kenya had these kind of lessons. The guys who were running it were super friendly and offered help and time to paint the skatepark. I said that for sure we will need help to repair the pitch and then to paint it but we had already enough people for now. One of this guy wanted to do a selfie with me. A few of them actually. He didn’t even know me but yet wanted a picture with me. And as my friend MADDO would say #itsamadmadworld. (Make sure to check him out!)
Shangilia, The paradise & Children’s home.
Kibagare slum, the hell.
Lea, the best cheeky monkey ever. A strong and determined kid. I love her.