Better than Dogs

Every night around the time I am dozing off to sleep, the dogs start fighting outside my window. Dogs here are not pets. They think it is totally weird that we domesticate our dogs. People here prefer them around, outside, for protection. So the meaner the better. They are often treated cruelly and not fed well, making them unpredictable by day and lethal by night. The neighborhood dogs fight viciously throughout the evening, waking me up with their vigorous barking.


When I was interviewing Christine, the principal of KGSA, she brought up the dogs in then United States. When I asked her why she does not vote, she said, “Who would I vote for? The man running to be President is the third highest paid politician in the world. Do you think he cares about us here in Kibera? What will he do for me? Your dogs in the U.S., they have nice beds in nice houses no? They have plenty of food to eat and water to drink? See? We are treated worse than dogs by our politicians. Worse than dogs.”


Ryan got a similar reaction when he told a farmer here that we feed our cows corn in the U.S. Joel said, “Corn? Really? We are starving here, and we eat corn to fill our bellies. You feed cows what we eat?” Kibera has become a tourist attraction of sorts. You can get Kibera tours. Foreigners stare at the poverty and wonder how anyone lives in such a way. After an interview the other day, I walked into the library at KGSA to see a news crew taking footage of the girls. Asha looked upset and said to me, “They come with their cameras but they do not care about us. We are good ratings for them. We are so poor that we are news.” On my walk out from the school, I saw four older white people walking. The man translating for them held a huge gun as they passed out hats to kids.


I have heard from many who live in Kibera about what the living conditions do to their dignity and self- esteem. The girls coming into 9th grade at KGSA are timid. They don’t know if they deserve an education. By the time they graduate, they know they are worthy. They know they deserve better, and they have the knowledge and the degree to use in their plight.