Mr. Teka is the man I have probably laughed the hardest with in Kibera. He loves the CIA and the FBI due to obsessively watching every American show that deals with investigations like CSI or 24. In fact, after my first interview with him he was so happy that I “helped him remember to remember things he didn’t remember that he remembered” he thought I may be a CIA interrogator. He is afraid of cats. He loves his students at KGSA. The students respect him so much, in part because he too comes from poverty.
Teka grew up in upcountry, Kenya. His mother struggled to put food on the table. He would tie a rope around his skinny stomach before school to help alleviate hunger pains. He loved school so much, he would put his feet in a bucket of cold water so he could stay up later reading his school books every evening. He got high enough marks to go to a big high school. There, he would rush down to lunch to be first in line. He would eat quickly, wash his plate, and run to try to get back in line so he could eat twice.
After high school, Teka slept on a bench for two years. His friend owned a movie house, consisting of a television on one end and benches that people paid for to sit and watch movies. In turn for collecting the money and pressing play, Teka was able to sleep on the bench after people left. Getting paid next to nothing, Teka met Abdul and started teaching at KGSA back in 2006. He was named principal by the age of 22. He is currently the Head of Programs, and works tirelessly for the girls. When I asked why he has stayed so long at KGSA he said, “I am not here for the money. I am here for the girls. They are focused, and going places. Their commitment and courage in the face of poverty gets me out of bed every morning.”
After an evening meeting with Teka, Ryan and Abdul over Fanta and Tusker (the local lager), I sighed watching Teka and Abdul turn to head back to the slum. “What amazing men,” I told Ryan. “How could I care for them any more?”
“Just wait,” Ryan answered. “You have a few weeks left.”