By Joyce Hu, Creative Director
Although our core work is building rural communities, we can’t avert our eyes and hearts from the struggling urban communities in major cities around the world. Nairobi is home to some of Africa’s largest urban slums, where millions of people live without basic needs like running water, electricity or daily meals.
On my most recent trip to Kenya, I was introduced to two bright, young adults from Deep Sea, a slum in Nairobi named for its sloping landscape that makes walking out of it a steep hike through the maze of metal corrugation and open wastewater ditches.
George, an aspiring photo journalist, and Rose, an aspiring journalist, (both 21) had already been on a few reporting assignments thanks to their dedicated education sponsor, Afrika Si, an Italian NGO that built a middle school in Deep Sea. Because of Afrika Si, George and Rose are university prepped. We were considering them for the dual position of field content documenters. My first meeting with them was in Nairobi, where they invited me to their home.
From the moment I met them and we began to talk, Rose and George’s intelligence, sincerity and graciousness made an instant impression on me. Having come from such desperate means, these two young adults are driven, articulate and clear-headed about the vision of their future. I nearly hired them on the spot!
Still not sure how urban dwellers would fare in the bush, I invited them to shadow us on our fashion collection’s photoshoot in our project area at Rukinga. George assisted the photographer and Rose assisted on all the production details.
After spending four days with them and seeing their integrity and dedicated work ethic, we were more than happy to make them an official offer. Starting in June, they will be working full-time and paid a fair wage with Wildlife Works in Rukinga – George with a camera and Rose with pen and paper in hand, following every story that comes out of our project area.
Rose wrote in an essay, “Life in a slum is not easy especially when you are raised by a single parent. When I started school in 1998 in class one, life was not easy. Most of the time I used to be sent back home to buy learning materials I did not have and to bring school fees back. When I reached home I could not even tell my mother why I had been sent home because the situation at home was worse, sometimes we used to go without eating food for same days, to us it was not a big deal since we had adapted to that condition.”
We feel blessed to be able to provide George and Rose with an opportunity to develop their talents and keep them on the path to a brighter future.
Please welcome them to the Wildlife Works team. They will be integral in collecting our stories from the field so we can share them with you!