It's a well-known fact that the government of Kenya (and many African countries) is "corrupt." I feel like we throw that term around quite often without really understanding what the corruption actually means. Here is an example of the sickening corruption that takes place in the Kenyan government via the garbage dumpsite in Korogocho.
Don't get me wrong-- any slum you go to is bad. Whether it be Kibera (one of the largest in the world), Mukuru (a small slum outside of Nairobi), or any other, they are terrible living conditions. Something about Korogocho is different though. The burning fumes and the random wafts of awful rotting garbage make for an environment that is not only extremely unhealthy, but also inhumane for everyone.
The government profits from the garbage dump. "Dump gangs" control what goes into the dump site. In order for trash companies to dump there they have to pay the dump gangs. If you try to dump without paying, you will essentially be found and either tortured or killed. Everyone pays to dump. The dump gangs then give that money to the government, and the government flaunts it's riches while the people of Korogocho and nearby slum, Dandora suffer.
At one point, a company from China had offered to come and remove the trash and clean up the dump site. The citizens of Kenya were so happy, but the government voted to not take on the project-- because it would lose all of the money from the site if it no longer existed. Meanwhile, the United Nations Environmental Program headquarters is literally less than 8 km away.
Seeing this first hand has been so upsetting for so many different reasons. There are so many children and families living there, in the stench and fumes of the dump site, and yet they are stuck living in these deplorable conditions. It really makes you wonder how something so awful could happen like this.
I am honored to have been selected as a 2018 Fund for Teachers Fellowship Recipient. Through this grant I will travel to Nairobi, Kenya to work the the El Sistema based music program, Ghetto Classics. This blog will share information and stories about my first journey to Africa.