Erin Castillo, MSW student - The Dignity of Each Person
Elise Haykin, BSW student, and Marissa Moschetta, BSW student - Short-term Missions
Living in Dallas suburbia, I think I am obsessed with the size of people's homes. I live in a smallish two-bedroom apartment, and I get jealous of friends who have 5-bedroom, two-story homes. I think, though, that when I get home, I will see my apartment with new eyes. I will be grateful for the space I have after entering homes in Africa that are much smaller and yet serve their purpose. The Kenyans who shared their homes with us were very proud to so, and they were very pleased with what they have. I should take a lesson from them and stop so greedy and envious of what I do not have.
I have tried to shift my focus from the materialistic to more important issues. So they are happy in their small houses, and I should be, too. What else is there? Do these people have access to clean water? good nutrition? education? Do they know about good hygiene--that it's not a good idea to eliminate bodily waste right on the street or live on a heap of trash? Even if they know, do they have a choice? Are there water lines providing clean water, or sewer lines taking out waste? I see many market stalls full of wares in Kibera, but is anyone buying anything? Are there legitimate opportunities for income that allow the people to pay their rent? Is their rent reasonable for what they live in, and will they be able to afford rent after they receive their "housing upgrade" from the government? These are questions I cannot answer by walking through the Kibera slum or visiting a rural home in the village of Cherangani. The truth is, in two weeks I can only begin to understand the complex issues at work here, and it really will take someone who is native to the culture to understand it fully. I am only beginning to learn about the root causes of poverty and how to effectively address them, and I look forward to continuing that discussion and learning in my own native context.