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Thought of the Moment

August 10, 2010

To be fair, many foreigners come to the slums wanting to understand poverty, and they leave with what they believe is a better grasp of our desperately poor conditions. The expectation, among the visitors and the tour organizers, is that the experience may lead the tourists to action once they get home.

But it’s just as likely that a tour will come to nothing. After all, looking at conditions like those in Kibera is overwhelming, and I imagine many visitors think that merely bearing witness to such poverty is enough.

Nor do the visitors really interact with us. Aside from the occasional comment, there is no dialogue established, no conversation begun. Slum tourism is a one-way street: They get photos; we lose a piece of our dignity.

Read the whole thing.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Jen permalink
    August 10, 2010 11:05 pm

    I JUST finished reading that article and immediately thought of you… then looked and saw you had this new blog post! Really interesting to hear that argument from the perspective of someone who is actually from a Kenyan slum, as opposed to someone else assuming what the experience must feel like.

    • August 10, 2010 11:09 pm

      Yeah, it’s a great piece. I like that he emphasizes the lack of human connection and/or relationship. We’ll have foreign visitors coming through here forever, but I think one thing we try to do, and hopefully do well, is help them make real connections with the people they meet. For many people in our community, those relationships mean so much.

  2. Chamnan Pich permalink
    August 20, 2010 1:34 am


    I love that you have this piece on here!

    • August 20, 2010 2:20 am

      Chamnan! I love that you’re reading my blog!
      Hope you had a safe trip back – see you Seattle?

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